As many of you likely know, Kathy Krajco compiled an excellent list of the "red flags of narcissism" in her book, "What Makes Narcissists Tick". I find myself wanting to reprint her list with the descriptions because they are so valuable for people trying to assess the level of malignancy of the person they're having to deal with. Perhaps I'll do that over time. What I'll do today, though, is highlight what Kathy called the "reddest flag".

Before I get to that. I've been on a true crime jag over the last six weeks (one book tends to lead to another). I started in on reading after the last national election. Not being at all confident in all the hope changiness being promised I'm checking out. I find true crime a much more cheerful topic right now than politics. I've now read several volumes of true crime since the week before Thanksgiving. The latest I read was a story about a man who exhibited every single trait of malignant narcissism while living with a decent woman who just couldn't discern the danger she was in until it was too late. It was hard to see a woman so bereft of knowledge of the workings of a pathological personality that she couldn't believe this man capable of murder until he finally resolved to kill her after their many years together. She needed this list of red flags. Desperately. He demonstrated every single one of them. Over and over again.

Another aside: I want to state something clearly for the record. I got an email from a moron who had just found my blog last week and decided to tell me all he saw was that I was male-bashing while using pseudo-psychological terms (??!) to pathologize people who may just be assholes and not actually evil. It was his understanding that people are "okay" unless and until they break the law (!!!!). I didn't bother to respond to this person because his every assertion demonstrated such idiocy that there was no place for our minds to meet. The silliness of accusing me of male-bashing is utterly unworthy of a personal response. Hello? I write from the perspective of a person who was used and abused by two FEMALE narcissists! My blog makes it clear I don't believe that males have a corner on abusive and narcissistic behavior. For the record: when I refer to a book that happens to tell the story of a male narcissist who becomes a murderer that is not a sign that I think all narcissists are male. Gender terms are used interchangeably here on this blog. I believe that narcissists are likely split about evenly according to sex. I believe that females are much harder to catch at it because they are subtler, sneakier and less likely to be overtly physical with abuse which means they come to the attention of authorities less often. In other words, they get away with their NPD more often. I have a special hatred for females in narcisssit form because of their subtlety and because of what they can do to their children while hiding under the cloak of motherhood. Kapeesh? You only have to do a minimum of perusal on this blog to ascertain my perspective on the subject and comprehension skills of at least high school level.

Eight red flags of narcissism as listed originally by (deceased) Kathy Krajco:

  • puts on a conspicuous display of goodness and kindness
  • damages the images of most others
  • has a history of past upheavals
  • is hated for mysterious reasons by people close to them
  • exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior -- backwards reactions to things
  • is a control freak, trampling privacy/boundaries
  • is extremely self-absorbed
  • has a hostile reaction to attention and credit given others

I am very grateful for Kathy's wise discernment on the dangerousness of a person who demonstrates the reddest red flag: "exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior -- backwards reactions to things". It isn't just 'odd' or 'off-putting' to see someone exhibiting this red flag. It is a DANGER SIGNAL. It must be taken seriously. To explain it away, to pretend you didn't see what you saw is to keep yourself in a place of DANGER. Have I used the word "danger" enough yet? Okay, here is Kathy's elaboration on this red flag:

The reddest red flag is perverted behavior. Leave out the sexual connotation: I use that word perverted because it means "thoroughly twisted" or "turned backwards." Any act can be perverted. Perverted behavior is the extreme opposite of what is called for. This is behavior that goes against nature, behavior that makes you want to pinch yourself. In other words, it's a surprise, a shock, the last thing you expected.

Like maybe everyone in a classroom was sitting up straight with all eyes riveted upon Teacher and you could have heard a pin drop. Ka-BOOM! He flies into a snarling rage at some kid he won't identify as though that kid just flipped him the bird or something.

Or maybe you've been dating him for six months, and he has been saying from day one that he wanted you to marry him. You finally tell him you love him. Ka-BOOM! He gets mad and tells you that you don't love him. And demands that you wear your hair a different way. If you really love him, you will, you know.

Perplexing.

In my experience, afterwards you are unable to say what the blow-up was even about. That isn't normal. When you have an argument with a normal person, afterwards you can say what it was about.

Though such off-the-wall flights into rage are the most memorable instances of perverted behavior, they aren't the only kind. In fact, other kinds are more telling.

For example, take a situation that has a nearly irresistible pull on the heartstrings. Imagine that some person in the room is suffering great grief and sorrow and breaks down into tears. Seeing that affects normal people like gravity, attracting them to that person to comfort her or him. But what does a narcissist do? The exact opposite. Remember, she must deny attention to that person. So, you'd think anti-gravity was impelling her out the door on the far end of that room as she hurries out jabbering cheerily about everything BUT what is going on.

That's what I mean by "perverted" reactions to things -- weird, backwards reactions to things. Behaviors that make you feel like you just stepped into The Twilight Zone and need to pinch yourself.

It's always a sign that a person is dangerous in some way. Perverted behavior is characteristic of psychopaths and malignant narcissists. Normal people rarely exhibit perverted behavior unless under extreme pressure to do so, and even normal people are dangerous at such times. For, that's when "normal" people all look the other way to allow things like the Holocaust while pretending that they don't know what's going on.

Inappropriate laughter is an example of perverted behavior. I'm not talking about the inappropriate laughter that sometimes comes from a nervous or self-conscious person, or from people under a great weight of fear, pressure or sorrow. That's a release, and we understand it. I'm talking about inappropriate laughter that makes you wonder where it came from.

For instance, when the Challenger (space shuttle) exploded on take-off, we saw it live on television. As with the 9/11 Attack, the networks replayed the spectacular footage every two minutes while shocked America got the news and gathered around television sets. One narcissist I know of was so in need of getting his stunned co-workers' attention off the TV and onto himself that he put on a comedy act, parodying what the victims were saying to each other as the rocket plummeted into the sea. Though his fellow workers were scared to death of becoming the object of one of his persecutions, they were shocked at this chilling display of inhumanity and could manage only nervous laughter at the creep's attention-getting jokes.

That happens only when the victims aren't regarded as human beings. Either because they have been demonized by dehumanizing cariacatures in propaganda or because the laugher is a psychopath or narcissist.

Other examples of perverted behavior are:

  • reacting with contempt to what should evoke sympathy
  • reacting with aversion to what should attract
  • reacting with anger to what should please (such as finding some mysterious offense in an attempt to suck up)
  • getting angrier in reaction to what should appease (Narcissistic Rage)

In short, whenever you see a backwards reaction to something, believe your eyes and ears. Accept this behavior's perplexity and know what you know -- that there is something seriously wrong with that person. And don't forget about it tomorrow when he's Dr. Jekyll again.

Are you in a relationship with someone who has made you want to pinch yourself to see if you're dreaming? Have you often found yourself confused, afraid, and distressed at this person's inexplicable backwards reactions to things? Please, please see this for the red flag this is and get the hell away from them. Carefully. Don't threaten to leave. Just leave. Plan your escape and run away! Change your name if necessary. Seek a shelter if you know this person is unlikely to let you just leave.

This red flag makes me think back on the times in my young life when my own mother displayed backwards reactions toward me. It sent me into tailspins. I was terribly afraid of her. Rightfully so. She mocked me then and for years afterward (right up until and even continuing after I cut her out of my life) because of my fear of her. Like I was just a cowardly idiot for being afraid of her. I see all too clearly now I had every reason in the world to fear her. When I was 17 and pregnant and decided that running away to elope was my best plan of action I was largely motivated by my horrid fear of her. I actually considered her capable of murder. Between her sometimes backwards reactions toward me as well as her disproportionate anger over trivial things I still believe she was capable of murder. I was smart enough at 17 to not completely dismiss my fears and took steps to protect both myself and my baby. I hope you can have the sense of a 17 year old and do the same.

My story of my elopement is here in case you aren't aware of the history cited in the paragraph above.

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