...it was my mother's more emotional, verbal form of abuse that scarred me most deeply. She indulged in a particular kind of soul murder...
Those of us raised by a malignant narcissist mother certainly can understand what Erin is describing.
I won't be entertaining heated defenses of feminism in the comments section. Keep the comments confined to the point of this article...that women are just as capable of being abusers as men are. And women may very well be more damaging in their form of abuse because they understand the nuances of emotional and verbal slaughter and have more access to their children to carry out their abuses.
Read it and weep:
What is narcissism? Is it a simple case of being kinda self-involved? Is it just the human condition? This post will focus on the big picture of what this blog is about. Consider it orientation for people who are new to the subject and new to this blog.
This blog is about malignant narcissism which is another name for NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder as its called in the bible of psychiatry, the DSM-IV.) This isn't a blog about people who have a few narcissistic traits because that would mean talking about everyone on the planet. I'm not interested in throwing the whole planet into one box because it would render it a useless classification.
It is understandable that people who are unfamiliar with the terms "malignant narcissism" or "NPD" to not really know how completely different of an animal is being discussed here than the average human being. This blog isn't about assholes or debutantes. It is very possible to be a jerk or to be a self-focused princess and not have the disorder of NPD. If you label anyone who irritates or annoys you as a narcissist then you don't have a grasp of what this character disorder really is.
Every human being is bent to one degree or other toward selfishness. So to define NPD as "being selfish" is not a definition that makes any sense because it would just be statement about the whole human race that wouldn't help anyone identify the problem of human evil. Some people say that all humans struggle against being selfish and so are quick to state that we are all narcissists. Not so fast. The label is important because we are trying to identify a certain sub-set. There is a specific definition here that is important to grasp if you're going to be able to deal with the problems that proceed from calculated and predatory human evil which is at the root of the definition of malignant narcissism.
Let's look at the statement above, "...all humans struggle against being selfish." No, they don't. THAT is what this blog is about. The ones who don't struggle against their selfish urges. It is about those human beings who long ago gave up any struggle against their lusts, their selfish entitlement attitude, their demands, their need to control others. Some, I believe, have never put up a real fight against their own selfish demands. Malignant narcissism usually manifests at a very young age even though it never becomes an official diagnosis until adulthood because this is how the grand poo-bahs of psychology play the game of labeling.
There is a creature that exists in human form that has become distinctly different than those of us who do struggle against selfishness. In a very deliberate and conscious way these people have made a decision to not fight against their selfish impulses. They have embraced them. They have found ways to completely justify them. They are quite proud of their freedom to do anything they want to anyone they want. They may be quietly smug about it or openly boastful; nevertheless, they're proud of their ability to get their way.
They see themselves as set apart from mere humanity. They distance themselves from the human race by setting themselves apart from and above them. They do this by word and by action. They even usurp the very throne of God Himself as they position themselves as god over all they survey. They reserve to themselves the right to define reality to all in their domain. All this results in the train of woe that follows from the human embodiment of evil.
I make no apologies for referring to malignant narcissists as a "creature" or any other dehumanizing term I may use from time to time. I didn't dehumanize them. They do it to themselves. I'm just agreeing with them that they aren't like the rest of us...only, when I say it, I mean it in the most disparaging way unlike the narcissist who pretends himself apart from all the rest of humanity as proof of his superiority.
The outgrowth of the mental state of malignant narcissists as described above are very predictable and legion but it can be boiled down to some consistent traits seen among all who've dedicated themselves to human evil. I have covered these traits at length on this blog. I'll try to revisit some of these predictable behaviors and attitudes of the malignant narcissist in brief.
All malignant narcissists are cases of arrested development.
They are perpetually living in a mindset of a young child. The age when a child is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong but very willing to do wrong if they think they won't get caught. Like a child, they feel entitled to whatever they want. Like a child, they recreate reality to suit their fantasy about themselves and the world around them. Like a child, they want all attention focused on them. But, unlike a child, the narcissist is not subject to being molded and shaped by authority figures or reality. The narcissist is determined (read here, conscious choice) to remain a child whereas most children are driven by a desire to grow up. Children are childish and there is no crime in that. I'm not pathologizing childhood. I'm highlighting that malignant narcissists are pathological children.
This state of being leads to the other realities about malignant narcissists which are all characterized by being pathological excess of whatever we're talking about:
The narcissist has a pathological need for all attention in every context he finds himself in.
It is so pathological that if you get any attention he is obsessed by the need to take it away from you because he imagines that if you get any that it is an unsurvivable diminution of this precious commodity for him.
This is attached to his transcendent sense of entitlement.
If he wants something then, in his mind, it belongs by native right to him. And because he wants every shred of human attention, warmth, regard, consideration, that means you can't have any. This is at the very bedrock of the narcissist's motivations. The need to have it all means he must take what you have. It makes you a target of his malevolent intent. It is the fountainhead of his ill will toward all others.
The malignant narcissist's pathological need to have it all leads to his existence of being pathologically envious.
In other words, the most pernicious, pervasive and all-consuming state of being covetous. This translates to him envying anything you have or are. So, picture a human being utterly possessed of a pathological need for all the attention and all good things which flow from human relationships and you have the framework for understanding the next identifying feature of the Malignant Narcissist Creature...
The malignant narcissist is a predatory animal.
He stalks his prey. He must do so because his malevolent intent is absolute and would frighten away any source of his supply if the target could easily discern his implacable nature and insatiable lusts and his intent to feed. So the narcissist transforms himself. He is an adept at making and wearing masks. He thrives on appearances. He is short on substance. People who are easily taken in by appearances and short on wisdom to discern substance are easy targets.
The malignant narcissist is a chameleon.
This is why so many people have a problem identifying what a narcissist is. To the superficial view malignant narcissists can appear to widely differ from each other. This narcissist here is a sophisticate with excellent worldly tastes, vast charm and a following of admirers. That narcissist over there is an unemployed alcoholic who lives off his wife or parents, abuses animals and his children, and hasn't amounted to more than a pile of shit his whole life. But both of these widely disparate appearances are adaptations to environment, I.Q., accident of birth such as physical beauty, advantages such as education, sex, etc. It is important to understand the chameleon-like adaptations all narcissists are capable of and not be fooled by these adaptations to miss the substance of what they are: a pathological mess of predatory urges that feeds off of the people around them.
How an individual narcissist presents himself or herself can cause huge variations in how a malignant narcissist appears to others, but make no mistake, these basic characteristics will be found in any of them. Both the charming sophisticate narcissist and the alcoholic loser are pursuing their favored forms of "narcissistic supply.", another term for the attention "drug" that every malignant narcissist junkie is pursuing his every waking moment. How they go about it looks very different, but in principle they are after the same thing.
All malignant narcissists are parasitical.
They need people around them from whom they can steal what they need. Their need for people is desperate, yet their desperate need presents a conundrum for them. Their need for people runs counter to their even more desperate need to not appear like they need anything from anyone, especially you! Never forget, they are gods in their own estimation which means that even while they steal, demand or extort what they need from you they will trash you for giving it. The more they need you the more you will be subjected to their loathing. It is paradoxical unless you understand what the hell is really going on. Which is what I'm describing for you now.
Stay focused on the narcissist as parasite. Because the malignant narcissist is a complete failure in the moral realm they must attach to sources of virtue. This is because no lie can exist without the truth. Evil can't exist without some appearance of good. How does the narcissist wear an appearance of virtue? Most commonly he surrounds himself with those who possess real virtue. The close proximity makes it easy for the malignant narcissist to steal virtue for his own image. Does the narcissist need to feel powerful? He may prop himself up or feed on those who have real power if he is lucky enough to sidle up to them, or he will surround himself with people who are weak so he can feel powerful by controlling them.
OR the narcissist can steal virtue and substance from her profession or from belonging to certain clubs or organizations or charities. Service professions are very attractive to malignant narcissists. So is religion. As is Motherhood. An example: the narcissist can get herself close to her prey of choice by her choice of profession. Does she like to seduce young boys? She may decide to become a teacher. She attaches herself parasitically to the profession's high claim of being concerned about the education of young people. Who would suspect she is not a teacher because of the usual reasons? By association everyone assumes a certain amount of goodwill and character due to her choice of job. This is her cover to then commence her predation of her favorite flavor of attention. She has parasitically attached herself to the good name of teacher. She is stealing virtue she doesn't possess so as to better reach her prey.
In every situation the parasitical narcissist is preening himself.
He needs a mirror to accomplish his acts of preening. That mirror is you. He plays to his mirrors. He poses in front of his mirrors to get the desired reflection back. When you show looks of interest, admiration, fear, concern, he is basking in his reflected self. His insubstantial self. A construct of reality he has created out of thin air. But see? He needs YOU to accomplish this. He needs you to hold up the mirror for him. But he isn't looking at you. He is only interested in his own reflection in your face. You don't exist as a person to him. You're a means to his end. The parasite takes what he needs with no thought or benefit going to the host. If you cease giving him what he wants he will move on to a better host. He is completely heedless of his tremendous and all-consuming need of people to accomplish this act of reflection. His preening is an extension of his parasitical lifestyle, yet he is unable to comprehend this.
We are only objects to the narcissist.
He can't comprehend it because he has transmogrified all the rest of us into objects. We have no needs that he must enter into his consideration. He is first and only in everything. He refuses (again, conscious choice) to see your humanity and the basic rights that come along with that humanity. You are nothing more than a tool in his hand, a pawn in his game, an object for his use. When done, he casts you aside as so much used toilet paper. People who believe the narcissist loves them are tragically naive and deceived. The narcissist has vast reservoirs of love, compassion and concern, but not one tiny bit of those things can be diverted from himself. He loves himself so utterly and completely there is no room for anyone else in his affections. The malignant narcissist is absolutely incapable of the true emotion of love for any other human being. Period. If you doubt me you will continue to suffer under the heartless tyranny of these blood-suckers. You can never successfully deal with a narcissist if you believe he loves you in any real way. He NEEDS you. But need is not love. His need is the need that will take and take and take with no concern as to whether his taking is killing you.
Even if you've not been in close contact with a malignant narcissist, with a little imagination you can follow these descriptions to some of their outcomes. All of those outcomes are attended with ill will. Not one motivation of the narcissist is concerned with anyone else's well-being. This is what makes them dangerous and evil. They are unsafe for human interaction. Do they see themselves as dangerous and evil? Very unlikely. Some do. Most don't. Remember that they have justified themselves on every point. The evil they perpetrate is most times seen by them as their righteous cause. They have turned evil into good and black into white. This is easy enough to accomplish for someone who has for a lifetime tinkered with reality as much as those around them have allowed.
As you can hopefully see by now, malignant narcissism isn't about everyday variety selfishness. I'll use the word again here, it is pathological selfishness. It is a selfishness that will destroy anything that gets in its way.
When I decided to start a blog and needed to pick a name for it I chose Narcissists Suck for a reason. It wasn't a flippancy. My nom de plume is that of a vampire slayer. Again, not a flippant choice. The primary meaning of this blog's title is a succinct statement of truth about all narcissists -- they suck the life out of their victims. Plus, I did really like the dual meaning of the title. The other meaning being the more casual statement of, "damn, these people SUCK."
Human evil is not of recent advent. It has been a part of human existence for as long as humans have existed. Some of the evidence of this fact is found in the many legends of evil of which the Vampire bears some startling correlations to what we know about malignant narcissism. Of course, there is no one definition or legend of vampires but there are some persistent themes. I'll list a few for your perusal.
The ability to hypnotize and/or charm their potential victims.
Light destroys them. (Light is analogous to truth.)
They are shape-shifters.
They are predatory. Especially of family and neighbors where they lived before they became "undead."
They can only exist by draining the blood, life-force, of their prey.
Despite their human appearance they aren't really human.
They can infect others with their vampirism.
Great powers of persuasion.
Hard to kill. Even starvation won't kill it though it will render them somewhat insane. (Think here of the narcissist deprived of sources of supply. It won't end up in a converted narcissist; crazy, yes, converted, no. They will survive until they find a fresh victim.)
This isn't an exhaustive list, but it is enough to supply the point that legends of vampirism find their close counterpart in the malignant narcissist. This blog is intended to be the sunlight that destroys these vampiric blood-suckers. Shine the light of truth on who they are and what they do and find them scattering to the dark corners of their lairs. At the very least, the sunlight dispels the hypnotic hold of the vampire on his victims and helps them get free.
Thus concludes my attempt at an overview of malignant narcissism which is the focus of this blog. There are plenty of annoying and petty people out there. That isn't what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about those humans who've embraced evil that stalks its own kind as prey. The most scary aspect of this kind of evil is that is will suck the life blood out of its own young. The children of narcissists are the ones who've seen what evil really is. The narcissist disguises himself when in public view. It is behind closed doors that the fangs come out. Pity the children. Save them if you can.
Invaluable things I've learned here:
I found your blog when I was searching for info on dealing with trouble I was having with some people in my life. At the time, I thought I knew pretty much about N's (I had a 'classic' NM [narcissist mother], and N-ex [narcissist ex-spouse], I had already read many books on the topic). The only problem, I thought N's were pretty rare. That was the impression I had gotten.
The big picture really eluded me until I came here. For instance, it NEVER occurred to me that there might be more N's in my FOO [family of origin], despite my difficulty with them, or amongst the people I had thought of as "difficult" friends, past and present. Or, why, as an acon [adult child of a narcissist], I might have had so many "difficult" friends in the first place! Nothing I read in other places gave me quite the understanding about how N's are attracted to "primed" victims, and how they carefully avoid people raised with healthy boundaries. They do not randomly strike. And I had no idea that they often occur in multiples in families, over generations, centered around each generation's designated supply/human sacrifices.
I began to understand how I had been thoroughly and unwittingly trained to act in a way that made me basically the "perfect friend" to the personality disordered. This gave me a new lens through which to view many events and incidents from the past which had long puzzled me and that I had often replayed again and again in mind with no resolution. Now, they made "sense". I always wondered why some friendships I had were so "easy"! Now I knew those were simply the friendships I had with normal people. What seemed to be as "easy" or unusually "low maintenance", was actually JUST NORMAL. THAT IS ALL. Long accustomed to around-the-clock drama from others, I had no idea.
And importantly, how UNCANNILY SIMILAR experiences with N's really were, down to the most bizarre sounding incidents! (bathroom barging N's anyone?) The baffling and powerful N's became demystified. Now I see them as fear-driven caricatures, all with pretty much the same bags of tricks. Same shit, different smell. I am no longer impressed.
Your blog also put into perspective the many "frieNdships" that I had had in the past that I had long felt confused guilt and shame over ending. The more the puzzle pieces fell into place, I realized I had indeed been cutting out N's who had been attracted to me mainly as pre-trained NS [narcissist supply]. Thank you, no more guilt or confusion over having had been able to make healthy decisions about parasitical people in my life.
Another thing that helped tremendously has been being able to make the clear distinction between an "enabler" and a deceived victim. Boy was I sick of books that quietly (or not) suggested there was something wrong with ME (i.e. "co-dependent") simply because I was once brainwashed into going through life experiencing N ABUSE AS NORMAL. Others calling us co-dependant is wrong and insulting. Believe me, the moment I knew what was what - I ESCAPED TOO! I was just one of many people trapped by the lies of N's who simply need nothing more then CLEAR INFORMATION to order make the choice to leave! That is NOT "co-dependent", that is a hostage trapped by lies. Thank you for putting clear no-nonsense info out for the public.
I have appreciated and respected perhaps most of all your unswerving "take no prisoners" stance, as well as your unstinting use of the taboo word "evil", due to the premeditation, strategizing, and post-abuse covering up that N's do. Thank you. Whenever I felt re-swayed by the lure of the N koolaid, and the very natural desire to want it all to be some kind of bad dream I could wake up from, I could get a REAL wake up call here. The kind of wake up I really needed:
Covert MN [malignant narcissist] abuse is NOT a bad dream, it is real. But we CAN "wake up" from it, but only in one way: by seeing it for what it REALLY is, and seeing them for who they really are. Not appealing, not easy, and most certainly not what "they" want. It is the hard road. The bad dream we lived is THEIR world of lies, but we have the option to wake up to OUR OWN TRUTH: the world of truth inside us that can never be destroyed by others, only obscured. It is awakened by outside knowledge.
Thank you Anna, for more then I can write here. For passing on your truth, so we could wake ourselves up out of this nightmare into the world of our own possibility. Knowledge is truly power, and knowledge strips the power from deceivers.
And a thank you to all the amazing commenters! I have never ceased being amazed by the uncanny similarities, it proves the N's are not the unique people they think... It has helped me so much in so many ways.
Good luck to you Anna, and everyone else here too!
No, I'm not writing a book. There are over 250 posts that comprise this blog. That is my book. There is enough information here to help people navigate the shark-infested waters of narcissism. And it is available for free.
Comments will remain open, but there will be no comments approved between Apr. 19 and 23 because I'll be going out of town and won't have computer access.
Yes, it is possible to heal from the effects of a narcissist on your life. It takes courage, determination, right principles and a thorough house-cleaning which includes getting rid of the vermin. The most important principles which guided my thinking and steered my boat out of those shark-infested waters are available for your perusal. Here. Read, absorb, make necessary changes and then graduate! Work toward the goal of not having to think about the narcissist(s), toward not giving them any more of your life, fill your life with good things and good people and find that you don't need blogs or web sites like this one anymore because the narcissists are so far behind you that you can't even see them in the rear view mirror. That is what I hope for where all of you are concerned.
I'll still be around. My email address will also remain available, and I will answer emails as time and interest permits.
Hostile Reaction to Attention or Credit Given Others
And then, of course, we get to the heart of malignant narcissism, Narcissistic Envy.
You will notice that, invariably, when anyone is given recognition before the group, a narcissist immediately starts showing dislike for, or animosity toward, that person. Immediately he sets out on a campaign of character assassination.
Envy is bitter, an extremely unpleasant emotion. It's normal only when some other party really has robbed us of our due.
A narcissist's unnatural envy is so universal and so strong that he cannot even stand being in a place where someone else gets attention. If he cannot keep that from happening, he will find some way to absent himself from the situation -- if only by turning away from others and staring at a corner of the ceiling. What Makes Narcissists Tick, pg. 84
I elaborated on the centrality of envy in the narcissist's personality structure in this post. I have observed before that the two driving forces in the narcissist's life are envy and fear. I believe their pathological envy is the fountain from which all their fears arise.
Their pathological envy is also the explanation for why they turn predatory. They don't want what they deserve. They want to steal from you what you deserve. They are professional moochers in the physical and moral realm. Thieves of accomplishment in every sphere. Their envy is what justifies to them all their thieving and murderous ways -- their very real cannabalism. Their sense of entitlement springs from their malignant envy. They believe that their lusts are to be fulfilled by absolute right -- not at their expense, but at yours. Hence, they are invariably parasitical in their existence.
When seeking to understand what moves the narcissist you must remember that primarily it is their envy. Pathological and unrelenting covetousness of what doesn't belong to them defines their existence. This one fact will help you untangle the web to see past the lies, bluster, obfuscation, projection, blame-shifting, and Do-gooder schtick into their true motives. They are constantly on the move to obtain by force or by lies that which is not theirs to take. It may be as subtle and spiritual as your personal integrity or virtue. Anything about you that takes the spotlight off of them or shows them up for being the shallow creatures they are will incite in them the desire to steal from you. Even your happiness is an object of their envy. You will only be allowed happiness if they can make you believe that they gave it to you. Every flavor and variety of attention is their object of insane desire. Any attention you receive is perceived as a diminution of what they believe is theirs. All of it. They are giant, black holes into which is consumed every ray of light. Take all and give nothing back is their motto.
I'll close with this quote from Atlas Shrugged. Supposedly it is bad form to quote from Atlas Shrugged on blogs because Ayn Rand can't say anything that doesn't require reams of pages for context, but I think this quote does stand on its own because of what we understand here about the nature of evil:
The last of my words will be addressed to those heroes who might still be hidden in the world, those who are held prisoner, not by their evasions, but by their virtues and their desperate courage. My brothers in spirit, check on your virtues and on the nature of the enemies you're serving. Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, your love --the endurance that carries their burdens-- the generosity that responds to their cries of despair--the innocence that is unable to conceive of their evil and gives them the benefit of every doubt, refusing to condemn them without understanding and incapable of understanding such motives as theirs...life is the object of their hatred. Leave them to the death they worship...don't exhaust the greatness of your soul on achieving the triumph of the evil of theirs...
...to win requires your total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is a sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person...
Extreme self-absorption is another red flag. Unless a narcissist is a "doting" narcissist who keeps a "star" child he's exploiting under a microscope, just ask him about his family. You will be astounded at what he doesn't know about them.
That's the dead giveaway.
To test a person, write a basic character description of each member of his immediate family. Note things like whether this person is religious, excitable, highly motivated -- that's all, just basic stuff that anyone who sees them regularly should know about them. If you ask a narcissist to match each character description with the family member it belongs to, he will gape at you as though you just asked him to show the derivation of E = mc2.
It will astound him that you would expect him to know such things about his wife and children.
Because you know more about cartoon characters than a narcissist knows about the members of his immediate family. For, he can learn nothing about what he willfully, relentlessly, and reflexively pays no attention to.
Narcissists are notorious for being unable to remember people's names or to even recognize their faces outside the usual setting. That's because people all look the same to you when they all look like this.
[drawing of a girl's face blanked out because it is a mirror showing the narcissist flexing and posing in the mirror that should be her face.]
In your encounters with them, you make sure you get 100% of their attention while giving them zero of yours. So, what did they say? Anything? Did they even get a word in edgewise? If they did, you didn't hear it.
A narcissist may, for example, recognize her son in the home but not when she runs into him in the grocery store -- giving him a stupid stare as he approaches, until he clues her in by saying, "Hi, Mom."
Here are some other illustrative examples from narcissists I have known or heard about:
- Does not know how to spell his daughter's name.
- Never had any idea what kind of grades his kids got.
- Does not know his wife or children's birthdays.
- Has never visited the major Website his/her child/sibling published.
- Does not know how old his children are.
- Does not know that his daughter was a National Merit Finalist.
- Has no idea how good his kids are at any sport or other activity.
- Does not know what perfume his wife wears.
- Has never read the book his child wrote.
- Never does learn the names of the students in his/her classes.
- Cannot get the names of people "with two first names" straight. (viz. Jean Paul, Howard Dean, John Kerry, or even John Edwards.)
- Does not know the names of his children's spouses, let alone his grandchildren.
- Has never shown up to watch his son play varsity sports.
- Does not know what his children majored in at college or what degrees they earned.
- Does not know whether his teen-age son/daughter is dating.
- Has never met the boy his teen-age daughter has been dating for three years.
What Makes Narcissists Tick by Kathy Krajco, pgs. 83-84
The running joke in our family, and among some of our family friends, was on my mother's absolute inability to recognize any of us if we passed her when we were on the road. She should have recognized our cars. She most definitely should have recognized our faces. But she was utterly, completely oblivious. Even when we'd honk or wave our arms she'd never see us. It was treated like an endearing quality for years. She claimed to be very focused on the road and didn't have time to be looking around at other cars for familiar faces. She claimed she didn't care what people drove so how could she be expected to recognize their cars? Never mind that she often rode in our cars and that our cars would sit her in driveway where she'd often see them close up or could look out her house windows to observe.
My mental picture of my mother behind the wheel of her car is her sitting very straight, gripping the wheel with both hands almost pulling herself forward a little and staring straight ahead. Oblivious to everything around her. Not just us. Riding in the car was always a little scary because she was completely oblivious to what was going on around her. Near accidents were frequent. Her claims to being focused on her driving were baloney. She was not only oblivious to people she should have recognized when driving around town, she was oblivious to everyone. She was in her own little world while behind the wheel (as well as any other time). This was the main reason my father always kept her in very large cars. In case of accident, she would have a better chance of survival. Yes, she did have frequent driving accidents. Only one of them serious last I knew.
If her obliviousness was confined to her driving then it wouldn't have much or any real significance except, perhaps, she was just a bad driver. But it was just the demonstration of her ever-present self-absorption being displayed while on the road. If I walked into a store where she didn't expect to see me she wouldn't see me unless I walked up to her and started talking. I am the fruit of her own womb and she wouldn't recognize me. What she didn't know about her closest family members was just about everything, yet she claimed to know us better than we knew ourselves. We believed that lie for too long. She created what we were out of thin air and superimposed her false image of us onto us. There was no escaping her false rendering of our characters or accomplishments. She only thought she knew us. But the truth was she was entirely ignorant of who we were or what we've accomplished or what our real interests were.
To those who will come along and try to accuse me or Kathy of making a big deal over a frequent human failing let me point out what should be obvious. Everyone has had moments when we've forgotten a child's age or maybe their birth date. Everyone has an occasional moment of being oblivious. Usually this is because we've become engrossed in some mental activity and not because we're busy thinking about ourselves and getting what we want every livin' moment. This red flag is not talking about that. This is about a pervasive pattern that is far outside the norm of occasional human forgetfulness or being engrossed in some project or activity. Fact is, it isn't about being forgetful with the narcissist. You can't forget what you never bothered to know in the first place. It is the demonstration of the reality that to the narcissist you are an object. Not a person.
Just like anything else with the narcissist, we are talking about something that could be found in a normal human situation but it is at a level of pathology. Far outside, above and beyond what is "normal". That is why this extreme self-absorption is a red flag: because it falls outside normal limits. That word "extreme" is your clue that we're talking about something beyond the average or outside the definition of normal.
I'm sure that the comments will fill up with examples of this red flag behavior. Commence.
Tramples Privacy/Boundaries as a Control-Freak
Yet another red flag is a universal disrespect for other people's privacy, boundaries. This is a result of the narcissist viewing people as mere objects there for her sake to serve her needs and desires.
I gave an example in the previous section, in the boyfriend who disrespects your right to decide how to wear your hair. It's your body, not his. You're the one who lives with the consequences of the decision, not him. You aren't his car, something he owns and therefore can paint a different color if he wishes. You own you.
But he is treating your body as HIS property by presuming the rights of its owner over it.
Here's another, more literal, example. Your property line affects him like waving a red flag affects a bull. He must violate it and make what's your territory his territory. So, he parks on your lawn, ties his big mean dog out at the edge of his property to use yours (and menace you with Rover). He reacts to your claim of ownership as though you are stealing from him. Nothing short of a big fence will stop him from making your property his. And then he'll probably ram it with his truck if he thinks you'll be intimidated by that.
In other words, he is incapable of "distinguishing between mine and thine." Again, he is treating your property as his by asserting the rights of its owner over it.
Even your mind is not your own in his eyes.
Which is why a narcissist sticks his nose into everything, for he considers your business his business. He feels it incumbent on him to bestow judgment on every single thing people think, say, do, wear, or even feel. His disapproval (or the threat of it) is a stick this control freak with a God Complex herds people with.
He is possessing you.
Individuals with NPD are likely to attempt to get their needs met in relationships without acknowledging the independent existence of those from which they "expect to feed."So, he presumptuously makes other people's choices for them. Often to ridiculous extremes, such as telling people how to wear their hair, what clothes to wear, where to buy things and what brands to buy, what chair to sit in, what end to start on, which route to take, and so on. You can tell he's doing it just to do it, because he makes people change their choice to comply with his wishes. In fact, if the same person is doing what he said to do the last time, the narcissist tells her to do it differently this time.
-- Sharon C. Ekleberry, Dual Diagnosis and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder [link now dead]
In short, a narcissist views others as objects on a chessboard, or tools, robots, the executioners of his will. One I know of, a private school principal, demonstrates the desperate compulsion narcissist have to control people. He is said to have nearly driven almost a thousand people to justifiable homicide by blasting over an hour's worth of nonstop orders over a blaring squawk box about what to do in an annual Christmas celebration that everybody had carried off without instructions for decades. Nobody can walk into a room and sit down without this clown telling them to sit somewhere else.
I dealt in some length with this red flag of being controlling a couple of months ago in this post so I won't be reinventing the wheel for this post. Controlling Others Vs. Self-Control.
By Dr Joseph M Carver, PhD.
I just finished reading this three part article and wanted to recommend it to you all. It is an excellent synopsis of personality disorders followed by descriptions of how each of these PD types behave relationally. The article contains some good practical advice as well. I am impressed by the author's firm grasp of the reality that victims are not to blame for the behavior of the personality disordered. Read it and find validation and balm for your soul.
If you know a narcissist's history, you will usually see a track of mysterious upheavals in his life. He suddenly up and moves to a different school or job in a different town every few years. That is, every time the good angels in his Pathological Space start comparing notes, get his number, and become enraged. In one narcissist I know of, these upheavals began with one in the eighth grade. "What Makes Narcissists Tick" pg. 79
In other words, once the narcissist has crapped enough in one place and it begins to stink they have to move on. The pile of excrement near the narcissist has made it clear to others who is doing the crapping. All that dung is what we call 'exposure'. Thus requiring a new scene for the narcissist.
This history of past upheavals can be more subtle than the narcissist having to physically pull up stakes and move to a new place. My own mother demonstrates the subtler version of past upheavals. She has lived in the same city now since 1970. She has lived in the same house in that city for 33 years. Obviously, evidence of past upheavals would not be evident to most people who know her now. Only those who have known her the longest are able to see the history of upheaval in her social circles. As I look back over her life for the last four decades it is very evident that she indeed does defecate all over her Pathological Space requiring her to abandon particular social circles with predictable regularity. This has been repeated over, and over, and over again. Of course, she finds a way to make it look like she dumped them and not vice versa so it always appears on the surface that she was the one wronged in some way requiring her to get rid of those "bad" people. At least, she tells the story that way. This is what Kathy is talking about though. If you are acquainted with someone who keeps telling you about how they had to get rid of this person, that person and the other person where all the blame rests on the other party -- you are witnessing a "history of past upheavals" and it is a sign you are looking at a narcissist. Moving about geographically is only one outward sign of past upheavals. High turnover in social circles and relationships is the subtler sign. I call it subtler because it requires a knowledge of that person's social history for you to follow the trend.
Kathy stated that, "every time the good angels in his Pathological Space start comparing notes, get his number, and become enraged" that it forces the narcissist to fold up his tent and move away. It is possible that the narcissist you know has managed to arrange a Pathological Space where there are no "good angels" to hold him or her to account.
Sometimes the narcissist is able to form a family circle (or any social circle) in which there are no dissenters. Either the dissenters have fled or have been forcefully ousted by the majority rule of the narcissist and his underlings. For an extreme example of this we have Fred Phelps. He has formed a church which is entirely populated with his own family members. Only a couple of his children have escaped Fred's cultish family. But most are still firmly in his clutches, some of which are demonstrating they are lesser narcissists in his kingdom. Fred has managed to form a large enough circle of pathological people (shaped from infancy by his pathology) to ensure that there is never a "critical mass" of good angels that can gather enough power or influence to force him to move on. This scenario of the narcissist gaining a large enough mass of sychophants, enablers, beta narcissists in his Pathological Space means it can camoflage this red flag to onlookers and acquaintances. Beware. In this case look for a cult following. If you find a person with a cult-leader type of effect on the people in his social circle then you can be damned sure you're looking at a narcissist. In a cult-type setting it always looks like the "Cult Leader" is the immovable rock never having to vacate his setting but forcing out those who don't fit in. It is a fake-out form of stability. Remember that families can be cult-like in construct.
The next red flag is, "Hated for Mysterious Reason by People Close to Them":
In fact, another red flag is being hated -- I mean really hated -- for mysterious reasons. And by people that hating is uncharacteristic of. If, say, a person's adult son or daughter doesn't even visit him in the hospital or go to his funeral,* there is a heavy-duty reason for that. Fortunately, it's not our responsibility to judge. But we do need to appreciate the weight of such a startling fact. People do things for reasons. They are not always good reasons or just reasons, but people do things for reasons.
*Good examples: Abraham Lincoln did not go to his father's funeral, and Barbara Bush did not go to her mother's funeral. "What Makes Narcissist Tick", pg. 79
This red flag is well understood by those of us who have been through hell with a narcissist and found ourselves loathing them and forcing no contact for our protection. We would be very unlikely to judge someone else harshly if we found out they had inordinate hatred for a particular person even a parent or sibling. So this red flag is one most of us would readily understand. Unfortunately, most people out there in the world do not have any of this understanding. They are far too quick to judge what they don't know. They are quick to condemn our hatred of a malignant narcissist as being wrong. They are naive to a fault about people who are capable of earning such hatred -- so they condemn us. This red flag should be put on billboards and written with sky-writing: Respect the fact that people do things for reasons therefore don't be willing to judge what you know nothing of.
Remember, Kathy is talking about a mysterious, intense hatred for a particular person in someone whom you know doesn't go around routinely hating people. Narcissists, on the other hand, have a very long "enemies list" so it can't be said it is uncharacteristic of them to hate others. It is their default and normal setting. But when you meet someone who typically gets along well with most people then know for sure that if they hate someone there is a reason for it. It isn't for you to judge whether or not the reason is "good." Frankly, it isn't anyone's damn business.
The extent to which an individual will pursue their quest for power is determined only by what they feel they can get away with. No small part of this is how much they fear authority or the law. The narcissist mother will not pursue absolute power to the degree that the psychopathic serial killer will. But make no mistake -- both are consumed by the quest for power over others. Unchecked pursuit of power is destructive and merciless as well as escalating. As Proverbs 27:20 says in the Contemporary English Version, "Death and the grave are never satisfied, and neither are we." The grave never protests when someone dies, "We're full up here. We aren't accepting any more death, sorry." Death is always ready to open up her insatiable arms for yet another. So is the lust that drives the malignant narcissist of all brands and stripes. Never satisfied. Never satiated. Never content. Never full.
Kathy Krajco defined what absolute power looks like:
What is absolute power? It's absolute control, possession. Surely you have recognized the lust for it in the bizarre crimes committed by psychopaths. Mike DeBardeleben, a sexual sadist serving a life sentence wrote in his journal that it is "to force her to undergo suffering without her being able to defend herself."
"Without her being able to defend herself" are the key words. It isn't enough to torment the victim: this must be done in a way that keeps her from resisting. That's absolute power, possession...
This is the ultimate in mental cruelty = making the victim bend over for it. Then the sick-o gets to pretend that the victim truly does "want it," has ceased to exist as a person (with a free will) and is but an appendage of his that he thus "proves" his absolute power over.
All narcissists do this in one way of another: they don't merely abuse, they FORCE SUBMISSION TO ABUSE. This makes them God, whose punishing wounds we are to shamefully accept as our fault. We are not to resist: we are to simply hang our heads as deserving of them... "What Makes Narcissists Tick" pgs. 104-105
Notice that what is required for this to work is for the narcissist to completely disarm their victims. No right to self-defense is allowed! This is what they must strip you of first before they can go on to pretend that you are submitting to them of your own free will. Like they deserve such submission and like you've freely given it. Either they will use psychological tactics to get you to feel you have no right to defend yourself, or, as in the case of the serial killer, they will arrange your physical circumstances to make it impossible for you to defend yourself and then break you down mentally.
I made an argument in this post that your most fundamental right as a living being is the right to self-defense. It is this very right which the narcissist will first try to convince you that you don't have. It is the right that the proxies and bystanders will tell you that you don't have. "Turn the other cheek" is the pious phrasing far too many victims of abusers have gotten for advice when they desperately have sought for help with their situation. It is essential that victims of narcissists are re-armed with the knowledge of their right to self-defense if they are ever going to be able to resist and break the narcissist's power over them.
Knowing that a narcissist is driven by their need for power over others, and knowing they are always in search of this headiest drug which is absolute power over others, then you'll also be aware that they must force your submission in order to feel powerful over you. All this leads straight to the fact that a narcissist must deprive you of your right to defend yourself to accomplish this. They will always do this by fraud, lies, and threats. They will bring in their proxies to help them get you to submit to that which no one should ever have to submit to. They want to be able to pretend that your forced submission is a real submission...and this can only be done if they successfully deprive you of your ability to defend yourself. Can you see how incredibly important it is to be fully aware of your right to NOT submit to abuse? I am convinced that no one breaks free of the power of a narcissist over them until they are able to claim for themselves the right to self-defense.
It is important to mention here one very tricky sleight-of-hand that a narcissist does to disarm someone from self-defense. This is accomplished by intentionally mislabeling your defensive behaviors as being "retribution" or "vengeance". They accuse you of hurting them. They pretend to know your motives and lay the accusation that any efforts you make to defend yourself are actually coming from your desire to hurt them. If they can convince you that you are being vengeful, or at least if they can convince you that others see you as being vengeful, then they can shut you down. Force your submission once again. This happens very often when a victim of a narcissist goes into no contact. The pious howling of the narcissist contends that your cutting them off is itself abusive and is therefore coming from a spirit of malice and revenge on your part. Your act of "no contact", which is as mild and non-reproachful of a way of dealing with a serial abuser that there is, becomes conflated to be proof of your cruelty, malice, and vengeance. Don't fall for such insane logic! Don't let someone convince you of having motives you don't have! Don't let the narcissist disarm you that easily!
I used "no contact" as merely one example of self-defense that can be mislabled by the narcissist. Any type of self-defense can be characterized this way by the narcissist and will be. Expect it. Be prepared for it. Don't fall for it.
As I've been writing this I've had a clear memory of my mother quite literally demanding that I "bend over for it." For the first ten years of my life spankings were dished out frequently. For a period of time when I was around five or six the spankings were daily events. My mother was nearly always in a foul temper and the slightest infraction would be severely punished. Here's how it would go.
I would be called into her bedroom. Many times both my sister and I were summoned at the same time. My mother would then, through her teeth, demand we stand at the foot of her bed and bend over for our spanking.
The reflexive reaction of someone anticipating pain on their backside is to protect that backside. The hands would go over our asses. The act of having to willfully bend over the bed was also contrary to the desire to protect oneself. I remember with perfect clarity the terrible stiffness of my posture as I had to work with all my power to force myself to bend over for what was coming. Then, if my little hands were still covering my butt my mother wouldn't spank. She would grit her teeth until I could hear them grind and demand that I put my hands in front of me. I don't know that I can describe the intense difficulty with which this was accomplished on my part. The fear of her rage escalating and punishment becoming even worse is how I convinced myself to comply.
I have no doubt now as I look back on this scene repeated so many times over in my life that my mother could pretend I believed I was deserving of every ounce of her rage and punishment because I would cooperate by bending over and not in any way resisting my punishment. She taught us from our earliest moments that if we ever attempted to run away from her when she came for us that it would be punished with overwhelming force. So, there were no chases around that bed or the house. No, every vestige of resistance was removed before she would commence pounding our asses. I have no memory of her ever spanking me while my hands were still covering my backside. She waited as long as it took to get the total compliance that must have made these sessions such a pleasure for her sadistic torture of her children.
My mother removed all other of my rights to self-defense as well, but the above is the most literal example of her demanding that I "bend over for it." My mother has for most of her life gotten most of her narcissistic thrills from the children in her power which included other people's children that were entrusted to her care. (How well do you know your daycare worker, hmm?)
She worked tirelessly to ensure that I didn't try to defend myself psychologically from her predations as well. All signs of resistance were squelched with ferocity and swiftness. I had to go "underground" in my resistance. It was a profound secret. I had to reach my mid-teens before I mounted an organized mental resistance to her cruelties and torments. All this was accomplished in the privacy of my thoughts. This is really the only place that children can resist the power of a narcissist's control. In their thought life. Never condemn a child for their compliance to an abusive parent. The parent holds absolute control over that child's life. The child is only trying to survive. The most sad thing is that many of these children grow up still convinced they have no right to defend themselves or their own children from the narcissist thus forcing subsequent generations to be blood supply for the vampiric family narcissist(s).
Remember, self-defense is directly related to the right to live. The narcissist makes their "living" by denying you have a right to live your own life. They will work tirelessly to convince you that "resistance if futile; you will be assimilated"...to quote the Borg in Star Trek. You don't have to be assimilated. Even if you are presently in a situation where it appears you have no power...you have your own mind. All self-defense starts there. In your private thoughts. Nurture those thoughts and circumstance will afford you opportunity at some point to escape because you'll be looking for those circumstances and will be ready to seize them the moment they appear.
Then there is the other side of the coin, which is an even more menacing sign of bad faith -- what narcissists do to the images of others. Consumed with pathological envy, they make themselves look good the bogus way, by making others look bad.
In other words, malignant narcissists feel that praiseworthy information about you diminishes them, and they feel that denigrating information about you elevates them. Hence, like the raptor, narcissists must tear their betters "down off that pedestal" by maligning them. Therefore "malignant" is a good name for malignant narcissists, because every malignant narcissist's middle name is Malign.
Overall, individuals high in narcissism displayed amplified responses to social comparison information, experiencing greater positive affect from downward comparisons and greater hostile affect from upward comparisons.
--Bogart, L.M., Benotsh, E.G. and Pavlovic, J.D. (2004), Feeling Superior but Threatened: The Relation of Narcissism to Social Comparison, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 26, Iss.1, pp. 35-44
Whom do narcissists malign? Almost everyone. If you suspect someone of being a narcissist, praise a person who obviously deserves it to him or her and observe their reaction. It shows.
Narcissistic rage, character assassination and projection are some of the overt ways in which the narcissist expresses himself. For example, she may envy a work colleague's beauty, and project her feelings into her colleague by accusing her of being envious.
-- Winning Teams: Can You Recognize a Narcissist? online at http://www.winning-teams.com/recognizenarcissist.html
Malignant narcissists speak well of very few others. Only their narcissistic parent (when no longer vulnerable to that parent) and anyone they can aggrandize themselves by association with at others' expense.
For example, if you don't get along with someone, the narcissist will say, "I get along with him fine." He will have nothing but praise for that person. Likewise, if you got bad service at a restaurant, the narcissist will say, "They gave me excellent service." The narcissist praises the other because it reflects badly on you and well on him.
Similarly, the narcissist with a trophy wife goes around praising her beauty. He's aggrandizing himself by association with her. And at the expense of everyone not good enough to win a trophy wife like his. He'll likewise aggrandize himself by association with some important person he knows, praising that person everywhere he goes to name-drop.
But such special cases are the only ones you hear a good word about from a narcissist. In fact, a narcissist will stubbornly refuse to admit any fault in them at all. They are ideal, perfect in his or her eyes.
But the rest of humanity get the opposite. Often, narcissists glibly sneak bad ideas about others into your head. They do this by chipping away at that person's image subtly and relentlessly every time they mention him or her. Often perfuming the bad offering to cover up its smell.
An example is the man who never spoke of his wife except when talking about something else and laughing that, "Yeah, and the wife got pretty shook up about it."
That doesn't sound so bad, does it? But often this was pure fiction. More important, is that the way you'd like to hear yourself spoken of? Is that the way you'd talk about someone you want others to like? What type of picture does that paint of her? Is his talk of her tending to make people think well of her and respect her? Does it endear her to them?
That narcissist would have blown a gasket if anyone had ever described him as easily shook up. Yet for forty years he relentlessly chipped away at his wife's image with little vandalizing remarks like that, never saying anything about her that made you tend to like and admire her. Always characterizing her in a way that diminished her.
In fact, this "shook up" thing is almost cultural, used by many men on women. So, ladies, here's a bazooka: Beat him to the punch in saying it -- tell him not to get "shook up," and watch the stunned look on his face. He suddenly will see offense in that remark.
However subtle the vandalism may be, you never hear a narcissist say anything about anyone that you would like to hear said about you.
Worse, narcissists are gossips. They eagerly listen to and spread slander. They are self-righteous finger-pointers, pulling the same stunt Lucifer did in the old Gnostic myth about Lucifer coming before God everyday and accusing the other angels of being bad. The result was "war in high places" until the good angels, lead by St. Michael the Archangel, cast down Lucifer (now called "Satan," that is, "the slanderer") to the status they deserve.
Narcissists can make it sound like a virtue, but giving others a bad name isn't a good deed. Even if the report is true, it cannot possibly be done in the spirit of goodwill unless it is done in true witness -- that is, responsible witness, on the record, not behind the back. Just because the badmouth perfumes his speech with words like love and Christian and concern and for the sake of our children (always the justification when there is no justification) and sports a halo does not change the spirit in which slander is done...
...If you know that narcissists are inveterate character assassins, it's easy to spot them. A narcissist has a trail of trashed good names and careers in his wake. He will even have told you strange and terrible lies about the people in his own immediate family.
If you know the person he is telling you something strange about, compare the accusation with your own observations. A narcissist will have ignored that person's real faults and smeared one of his or her virtues as a vice! And, if you know the narcissist, you'll find the narcissist himself is guilty of the very thing he's accusing this other person of.
It is rather disturbing to see how "okay" other people can be when they witness someone's image being vandalized and complacently go along with it. When the victim of the vandalizing protests then the victim is only providing some kind of "proof" of the false characterization of themselves. Shocking, really, to see how much people enjoy seeing other people's efforts and image get vandalized.My dear ol' Ma was guilty of this little game after I had restricted her contact with me to only the written word in the wake of her disastrous visit to my home Thanksgiving 2002. In the two and a half years that followed this event I was still in contact with people who were in direct contact with my mother (as well as being still in contact by letter with my mother). This was unfortunate for her because I kept finding out what she was saying behind my back which, of course, was quite different than what she was willing to say to me directly.
For the first time in my life I had taken a very strong stand against her. Yes, many times before I had quietly bucked her, but now I wasn't pulling any punches with her. I clearly spelled out my objections to her behavior in my home and demanded accountability. What does she do? While mouthing artistic non-apologies to me she was singing a different song to the people around her. Here it was that the vandalism to my character began and here is how it went.
"Anna is having a hard time right now. I know that I have not been a perfect mother and this has made life very hard for Anna. She is battling with some issues from her childhood. It is so hard to see her struggling with this right now."
Oh, my freaking goodness. My mother at this time was terrified of me because I was showing real strength. She was cowering and simpering while trying to placate me. But behind my back she tries to look like the concerned mother who is watching her daughter's mental health deteriorate. So she smears my virtue (strength of character) with its opposite, weakness. She portrays me to others as being stuck in my "childhood issues" and as acting out against her because of my brokenness. I had finally grown up and was acting from principle where she was concerned and she would tell others that I was retrograding into a helpless child battling old demons. This was not said in a spirit of good will. This was intentional slander.
To say the least, I was infuriated by her perfidy. Especially since she had not even hinted to me any of this angle. It was totally and completely a concoction for her friends to smear me and thereby portray herself as a poor mother who has made a few mistakes and was therefore having to endure the heartbreak of watching a dear child decompensate mentally and emotionally.
All this vandalism was done with the soft tones of a broken-hearted mother. I'm sure her audiences pitied her grief on my behalf. I'm also sure they tried to hearten her with their deprecations of my ungrateful treatment of her.
I'm still disgusted with her for this. So underhanded. So utterly false. And it was a lie. She knew it was a lie. Yet again, in yet another way, she sacrificed one of her children on the altar of her self-worship. The child must die so the mother can live.
The slander and gossip can be done in such a way that it looks like the narcissist is filled with compassion for you. But like Kathy said, "However subtle the vandalism may be, you never hear a narcissist say anything about anyone that you would like to hear said about you."
There is a nasty tendency among all humanity to enjoy hearing nasty crap told about someone else. This gives the narcissists a real edge in life. Too often their hearers credit their slander and gossip with being truthful. If you don't already, rein in your credulity when confronted with some subtle or overt assault on another person's character. Change your knee-jerk response from looking askance at the person being gossiped about to looking askance at the person in front of you saying things that ding another person's character. Unless, like Kathy says, "it is done in true witness -- that is, responsible witness, on the record, not behind the back."
It occurs to me that some may accuse me of doing this very thing to my mother on my blog. I don't show my real name in order to hide the real names of my family, and my mother doesn't know of the existence of this blog. Doesn't that make me into the one who is slandering her behind her back? To that I simply say that I've put it all on the record with my mother. I have the paperwork to prove it. I've said nothing here that I haven't already dealt with her on. I'm on the record with my mother, father and sister. Names are changed here to protect the guilty, not the innocent. There is nothing here on this blog that I would be ashamed to have any of them read. I know it's the truth and so would they.
It is the restraining influence of my husband that has prevented me from sending them links to these pages. A very large part of me would love for them to read every word here. I agree with my husband, though, that it would be better that they found it on their own because otherwise they would accuse me of being unnecessarily unkind by forcing the knowledge that this blog exists onto them. It would support their accusations that I was doing this out of vindictiveness toward them. And since that is in no way true I will not do something to help them support that kind of accusation. I am motivated by compassion not revenge. Compassion for the victims of narcissism...not misplaced compassion for the narcissists nor some petty revenge. There are much better ways to get revenge than this if I was so inclined.
There are other good points Kathy has made in this section that I haven't commented or elaborated on. Ya'll can do that yourselves in the comments section.
I think I will, for the sake of future discussions along this line, clarify my position. I think my position is already clear but I'll make it more clear just because the emotionality of this subject seems to disengage some people's logic centers. I speak of those of the Never Give Up, Never Surrender ilk.
Here is what I haven't said. I haven't said that God can't save the narcissist. In fact, I've said the opposite. I have said that God can save the narcissist but with the addendum that He doesn't need YOU to do it! We must have an expiration date on our patience with evil doers.
A year ago I dealt at length with one of the apostle Paul's very clear commands concerning what we should do about those who practice evil in the church family (and by extension, our own families) in the post titled "From Such Turn Away". I don't believe that "love thy neighbor" negates the force of Paul's command. You can't take one text to annul another text and properly exegete the Bible. Context is everything. Too often people make a passage say something it isn't by not putting it into context. Apparent contradictions can be explained when one takes the effort to understand the big picture. I want to present a bigger picture on the Biblical view of what God's people are expected to do about evil in their midst by adding a few more texts into the mix.
Whether one reads the Old Testament or the New Testament it becomes clear rather quickly that God teaches that evil is contagious. There are so many parts of Scripture that teach this it would become very cumbersome to try to list them all. This truth is a given throughout all the Bible and is the very core understanding that is central to every Biblical command to separate from evildoers -- especially and primarily evildoers in the church and home.
It is this core truth which those Christians who insist on eternal patience with evil doers must either ignore willfully or who are just ignorant of all together. I'll say it again: evil is contagious. It is contagious because evil isn't satified to be evil all by itself. It actively works to co-opt you into its evil. And when you join them in their evil they applaud and approve of you (Romans 1:32).
You, the reader of this blog, have likely seen enough of the world and life to have your own observations to call upon to illustrate this truth. You've seen the contagion of evil infect from person to person in your own family. Or the workplace. Or perhaps you've found yourself co-opted for a time into someone else's evil deeds. The understanding that evil is contagious is understood by all good parents. Most parents will guard the associations of their children because they know that bad influences are very likely to lead children and teens into bad behaviors. Evil doers are never satisfied to be alone in their deeds. They want accomplices. To corrupt their peers is essential in order to be able to carry on their evil with a minimum of moral judgment or risk of exposure. Evil doers are not confined by truth or by morality if it stands in the way of getting what they want. So this amplifies the persuasive power of evil. Because it can and does lie to get its way; because it can create a false reality; because it can use the implements of cruelty, bribery, violence and exercise of any and all power it may possess without moral considerations -- all this increases the likelihood that evil doers will create other evil doers.
Having elaborated a bit in the paragraph above about the FACT that evil is like a virus that will infect those who remain in close contact with it I have again underlined the central reason I so energetically urge "no contact" with the malignant narcissist. To avoid picking up their traits, to avoid being used by them as a "cat's paw" to hurt others, to avoid becoming indifferent to evil and therefore more likely to be evil oneself, it is essential to separate yourself from it. For a Christian to urge the opposite is to reveal themselves to be profoundly ignorant of the Bible or, I fear, profoundly over-confident of their ability to not be co-opted by evil. A confidence the Scriptures do not urge us to have!
Another aspect of my urging "no contact" with evil doers is your responsibility to protect the most vulnerable and most innocent ones whom you are in a position to protect. This, too, is the Biblical view as the Bible holds those in positions of authority responsible for the temporal and eternal well-being of those in their care. So, even if you feel overly confident of your imperviousness to yielding to evil doers in your family or church I do not see on what basis you are confident of the unyielding nature of the vulnerable and innocent in your charge. Parents are responsible before God to protect their young from evil, church leaders for their 'flock', kings for their people, etc.
Evil doers in the family are not granted a special exemption by God! Evil doers are in the best position to harm those who are closest to them by reason of familial ties. Family ties are not any justification for evil else we condemn each new generation to endless repetititions of evil doers in the familial circle. The cycle has to be broken at some point or entire families will be destroyed. There are historical examples of this going back as far as recorded history goes. Like begets like. Evil spreads. Entire nations can be eventually consumed by unchecked evil in families.
All this means that Christians who agitate for the idea that we are not true, loving Christians if we don't emulate their own eternal patience with evil are actually only perpetuating evil rather than spreading good as they claim. Eternal patience with evil is equal with being a despiser of the good and the innocent!
Don't be cowed by the unflinching self-righteousness of those who claim to be better than you because they won't give up hope that God will save the narcissist. Recognize the false premise in their reasoning. They reason thus: if you walk away (i.e. give up on) the narcissist you have, at the same time, shown that you don't believe God can save the narcissist. Walking away says no such thing! God is not rendered powerless to save anyone just because you've had to go 'no contact' to end your exposure to their evil! Where in the Bible has God said that every person we will ever come in contact with will be saved by God through us?? It is no where even hinted at such a notion. The arrogance inherent in believing that God can only use YOU to save a particular person is quite odious when you recognize it for what it is. You are not that important. Or powerful. Get over yourself.
Some more texts to consider carefully because they enjoin us to separate from evil doers and trouble-makers.
Romans 16:17-18. Notice that those who are co-opted by the "divisive" ones are called naive. Other versions use the term "simple" or "simpletons". The Bible marks those Christians who can't discern the evil acts of their brothers in Christ to be simpletons. Remember that when one of those simpletons come to you to accuse you of being ignorant! Oh, the irony of it. Also remember that the Christian church is called a family and its structure is modelled on the family. What applies to the church family can be rightly applied to the family you were born into.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13. As in Paul's instruction to Timothy where he says "from such turn away" Paul is very specific about whom we should be shunning in his letter to the Corinthians. He says that if he told God's church to turn away from ALL evil doers then the Christian would have to leave the world. Paul says this is obviously impossible so obviously he wasn't telling Christians to avoid all the evil doers in the world. He was telling them how to deal with those in the church. This is entirely consistent with the view of the contagiousness of evil. That evil which is closest to us is the most dangerous form. Paul was much more concerned about prospering evil doers in the church than in the world at large because evil disguising itself in Christian garb is much more persuasive to other Christians than some stranger outside the circle of the church family. He concludes his admonition with this unequivocal command which is a quote from the Old Testament (Deut. 13:5), "Expel the wicked man from among you." There is no special clemency for evil doers just because they are in the family. The very opposite is true. Paul is clear that we are to judge those closest to us...not those furthest away. Those who call themselves family (church or birth) are the most accountable to us for their behavior!
The law that was handed down in the book of Deuteronomy was to govern the family of Israel. Israel was a family, a denominated church and a nation all rolled into one. We can learn much from God's commands to Israel about both church and family government. We don't see God telling His people to cut extra slack to evil doers in their families or nation. No slack cutting...cut them off is the command! Paul's quoting of this command in the New Testament shows that its instruction is in full force for the Christian.
Please note that Paul puts sexual immorality next to greed. Idolatry is just as evil as slander. A drunk is as evil as the swindler. However you may categorize evil, if you call yourself Christian I hope you won't put yourself above Paul and describe greed or slander as less evil than the other sins listed. The habit of those who've long lived with the evil narcissist have usually come to excuse greater sins than these in them. Don't minimize what the Bible calls evil and exhorts you to separate yourself from!
Psalm 26:4-5, NIV A psalm of David. "I do not sit with deceitful men nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked." Which Christian is it who can claim to be better esteemed of God than David? I daresay, none. Will you show your greater righteousness by sitting with the wicked and joining in their assemblies?
Psalm 97:10, NIV "Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked." Are you better than the Lord Himself? He hates evil. Do you? Notice the promise of deliverance from the hand of the wicked. What would that be but a promise of 'no contact'. A blessed relief from their persecutions.
Proverbs 2 Click on the link to read its entirety. In it Solomon explains the blessings that proceed from listening to and acquiring wisdom and understanding. "Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways." Wisdom and understanding are presented as the means whereby God can protect you from wicked people. Hello!!??? Can you hear me?? You can be an idiot and make it impossible for God to protect you! You were given a brain and are expected by God to use it. What does this chapter end with but this rather good news, "the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it." Again, I ask, who of you is better than God who cuts off the wicked? From my view none of you are better than God Himself. Therefore, I will not listen to you who believe that the "good" Christian will never cut off the malignant narcissist. I can only see you as a coddler of the wicked not a protector of the innocent and the virtuous. Your eternal patience for the evil doer is taken by them to be a license to continue on as they are. Never cutting them off allows the evil doer to feel justified in what they are and in what they do.
It is because God loves people that He instructs them to cut off the wicked. It is not from hatred of the evil person himself. God hates evil because it destroys the evil doer and all those in the evil doer's grasp. The Bible records that God has many times executed the death penalty upon the wicked and many choose to see Him as being too harsh for doing so. Yet they would forget the many crimes of the wicked to accuse God in that way. God has killed evil doers with the express purpose of saving those who are still save-able. He states clearly that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 33:11) The destruction of the wicked is elsewhere called His "strange act" (Isaiah 28:21). Be assured, cutting off the wicked is an act of justice and mercy dispensed by God to preserve those not given over to evil. Don't pretend to be better than God Himself by refusing His instructions to distance yourself from those who won't distance themselves from evil deeds. He expects you to use wisdom. Wisdom is the conduit whereby He is able to shape circumstance to protect you. Wisdom is a function of logical thought. Which means you follow your head and not your fickle little heart when confronted with having to deal with evil. Family ties are not an automatic exemption from all instruction concerning evil. Family is more accountable to us, not less, for their closeness.
I'll say it one more time before closing. Cutting off the evil narcissist is not a commentary on your believing that God can't save that person. Going no contact with the malignant narcissist doesn't mean God has gone no contact with him. Please, don't be a simpleton. God can still reach them even if you never speak another word to them. Because the Biblical instruction to the Christian is unequivocal that we must "Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person", don't expect God's protection if you refuse His clear command on this point. And believe me, there will come a day when the trap springs and there will be no help for you.
"Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse." Prov. 2:11-12
"A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." Prov. 22:3
This quote is pulled from Henry Fielding's book, "Tom Jones" first published in 1749. With a little thought I'm sure you can see why this quote fits my blog's effort. I don't advocate here that we spend our time, energy or resources on trying to make narcissists good. There is far too great a weight of evidence that it would be wasted effort on the narcissist. All my effort here is expended on making you, the reader, wise. So I apply my energy to that activity which has much better chance at success: helping good people to become wise people. I would be an abysmal failure if I channeled my efforts at trying to make "bad men good". Narcissists definitely fall into the category of "bad". There are enough apologists out there for the narcissist. My work here is entirely for those who've been caught like mice in the cat's paw.
Another thing I love about this quote is its antiquity. I love any illustration that some truths are timeless. Human nature is a constant like the law of gravity. Which is why history is so instructive for those who are interested in avoiding past follies and disasters.
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My last post focused on people who use control to force people to do what they want. It is a red flag behavior in anyone it shows up in including people who can't be classified as a malignant narcissist. I have an aside along this line of thinking.
It is inevitable that I occasionally annoy, tick off and generally irritate a small percentage of people as they interact here on my blog or in email. This happens when my enduring persistence in telling the truth as I see it interferes with someone's opinions. Not everyone welcomes my honest opinions when it comes to a pet rock they are holding onto for dear life. My contradiction of their pet idea only makes me look like a 'bad guy' to them. This means that a typical scenario sets up with some regularity. I'm going to address it now.
I just want those of you who are offended by my frankness to let you know something about me. Writing to me in the comments that you are no longer going to comment on my blog is not perceived by me as a threat nor a punishment. This blog is not going to deteriorate in quality just because you no longer deign to grace it with your comments. Neither are you going to make me feel like a bad person because you're offended. I'm not going to suddenly throw my arms up and give in just to make sure no one out there thinks less of me.
Apparently, it isn't evident to some that I am impervious to such manipulations via guilt and shame. All you will do is make me think less of you for trying to punish me for simply holding a contrary opinion to your own.
Ah, yes, I can hear the denials that the intent is to punish me, but I would call such denials lies.
Because if you weren't trying to punish me then you'd simply shut up with not another word said. You would not send in ONE LAST COMMENT to make sure I KNOW that your silence is filled with your oppobrium. This method has been used on me frequently enough over the years that it simply makes me roll my eyes. It is not my problem if you are so easy to offend. Especially since I am obviously not trying to offend.
I was an owner of a ladies-only religious group for three years. This is where I was first confronted by this method of attempting to control me and what I say. I am pretty sure it has only been women who have tried this method of control on me. IT WON'T WORK. It has never worked. You're not so important that it'll suddenly start working because you're doing it.
Here's the deal with me. I am not here doing what I do because I need attention or praise. I'm neither elated by your praise nor dejected by your censure. This is not a work of ego. I don't need other people's approval for the opinions I hold, nor do I relinquish my opinions simply because someone doesn't like them. Think about it. I have successfully gone "no contact" with my parents for years now. My sister too. Do you really think that your disapproval of me means anything??
So, if you plan to fire off that last comment telling me you won't be commenting anymore please take in the above. You haven't unsettled me. You haven't changed my mind. I don't feel like I'm "bad" because your knickers are in a twist. I think less of you, not myself, for your petty little attempt to control and/or manipulate and/or punish me. If you wanna dress me down then have the courage to send that message in an email where you can run the risk of having to hear back from me. Putting in a comment you feel pretty sure that I won't put through means you want the last word with out giving me any opportunity to discuss the matter with you privately. This is another indication that you're trying to punish me and not behave like an adult with another adult.
Just so's ya'll know the score. I think I'll be tacking this onto my comment policy for future reference since this scenario pops up like a perennial weed.