Sanctuary for the Abused

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The Contradictory Nature of Narcissists


Narcissists lack a mature conscience and seem to be restrained only by fear of being punished or of damaging their reputations -- though, again, this can be obscure to casual observation if you don't know what they think their reputations are, and what they believe others think of them may be way out of touch with reality. Their moral intelligence is about at the level of a bright five- or six-year-old; the only rules they recognize are things that have been specifically required, permitted, prohibited, or disapproved of by authority figures they know personally.

Anyhow, narcissists can't be counted on not to do something just because it's wrong, illegal, or will hurt someone, as long as they think that they can get away with it or that you can't stop them or punish them (i.e., they don't care what you think unless they're afraid of you) .

Narcissists feel entitled to whatever they can take. They expect privileges and indulgences, and they also feel entitled to exploit other people without any trace of reciprocation

If you're like me, you get into disputes with narcissists over their casual dishonesty and cruelty to other people. Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean. What you see is what you get: they have no better nature.

The fundamental problem here is that narcissists lack empathy. Lacking empathy is a profound disturbance to the narcissist's thinking (cognition) and feeling (affectivity). Even when very intelligent, narcissists can't reason well. One I've worked with closely does something I characterize as "analysis by eggbeater." They don't understand the meaning of what people say and they don't grasp the meaning of the written word either -- because so much of the meaning of anything we say depends on context and affect, narcissists (lacking empathy and thus lacking both context and affect) hear only the words. (Discussions with narcissists can be really weird and disconcerting; they seem to think that using some of the same words means that they are following a line of conversation or reasoning. Thus, they will go off on tangents and irrelevancies, apparently in the blithe delusion that they understand what others are talking about.)

And, frankly, they don't hear all the words, either. They can pay attention only to stuff that has them in it. This is not merely a bad habit -- it's a cognitive deficiency. Narcissists pay attention only to themselves and stuff that affects them personally. However, since they don't know what other people are doing, narcissists can't judge what will affect them personally and seem never to learn that when they cause trouble they will get trouble back. They won't take other people's feelings into consideration and so they overlook the fact that other people will react with feeling when abused or exploited and that most people get really pissed off by being lied to or lied about.

The most telling thing that narcissists do is contradict themselves. They will do this virtually in the same sentence, without even stopping to take a breath. It can be trivial (e.g., about what they want for lunch) or it can be serious (e.g., about whether or not they love you). When you ask them which one they mean, they'll deny ever saying the first one, though it may literally have been only seconds since they said it -- really, how could you think they'd ever have said that? You need to have your head examined! They will contradict FACTS. They will lie to you about things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself. If you disagree with them, they'll say you're lying, making stuff up, or are crazy. [At this point, if you're like me, you sort of panic and want to talk to anyone who will listen about what is going on: this is a healthy reaction; it's a reality check ("who's the crazy one here?"); that you're confused by the narcissist's contrariness, that you turn to another person to help you keep your bearings, that you know something is seriously wrong and worry that it might be you are all signs that you are not a narcissist].

NOTE: Normal people can behave irrationally under emotional stress -- be confused, deny things they know, get sort of paranoid, want to be babied when they're in pain. But normal people recover pretty much within an hour or two or a day or two, and, with normal people, your expressions of love and concern for their welfare will be taken to heart. They will be stabilized by your emotional and moral support. Not so with narcissists -- the surest way I know of to get a crushing blow to your heart is to tell a narcissist you love her or him. They will respond with a nasty power move, such as telling you to do things entirely their way or else be banished from them for ever.

Narcissists I've known also have odd religious ideas, in particular believing that they are God's special favorites somehow; God loves them, so they are exempted from ordinary rules and obligations: God loves them and wants them to be the way they are, so they can do anything they feel like -- though, note, the narcissist's God has much harsher rules for everyone else, including you. [Many readers have questions about narcissism and religion.

Here is an interesting article on the Web: "Narcissism Goes to Church: Encountering Evangelical Worship" by Monte Wilson. An excerpt:
"Modern American Christianity is filled with the spirit of narcissism. We are in love with ourselves and evaluate churches, minist,ers and truth-claims based upon how they make us feel about ourselves. If the church makes me feel wanted, it is a good church. If the minister makes me feel good about myself, he is a terrific guy. If the proffered truth supports my self-esteem, it is, thereby, verified."]

(note - the male gender was used in the above; Narcissists can also be female)

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shared by Barbara at 12:28 AM



You sound as if you've been living with my husband. It's so painfully precise and very frightening to read in print. A selfish relief that other people have been caught in the bizarre webs these strange people weave. The insights you provide will give me some strategies to cope better.

4:24 PM  

I second that...THANK YOU for this blog. I just recently (2 months ago) left my husband who treated me horribly, literally starting the morning after our wedding and escalating whenever I was in a position of relative weakness and needed to depend on him sometimes (during pregnancy, and especially during labor). I left with our son because I will NOT allow our son to grow up seeing his mother abused, thinking that's how women are treated and that it's OK. And I absolutely need to protect our son from ever being treated that way himself.

3:07 PM  

I think I remember this from back in 2008 when I was looking for answers after a horrific episode with the MIL. It didn't twig my husband was also of this ilk till very recently. I don't know why I didn't see it sooner. But it's him too. Also 2 months out of it for exact same reasons - don't want child growing up in a toxic, creepy atmosphere.

3:11 PM  

I don't think I know any narcissists but it sounds like they would be very difficult to deal with. Well now I have some knowledge on identifying these people and dealing with them.

1:32 PM  

This article could have been written about the person I was involved with for 2 years. He was cunning and charming. He used me and expolited me in ways I am too embarrassed to say. He was mentally abuse to me and he never had any guilt or remorse. It's kind of scary reading this but it makes me understand him so much better now. He is a very sick person.

6:06 PM  

Om I know exactly what u r talking about I swear they r talking about my husband I put up with it for fourteen years but after first four years he was released from jail doctor blamed drugs in jail and it will wear off after five years.We were married after a month after release and looking back I now know it started as soon as I excepted his proposal.But I always knew something was wrong but he made it out to b me.I only found out about his personality disorder a year before we finally split.It was horrific a month after I left (16th time he kicked me out) he sent me message telling me he met someone 20 days after I left and he loves yet still saying he loves me and arranging to meet me to tell me that I will have to give him time to dump her but feels terrible that he has slept with another woman .it was a roller coaster ride I never want to experience again. It was so hard to just go no contact because I loved him so much and you think your love will b enough to help him but u can never help him .He is on his second relationship in 5 months after me going no contact. He will just keep hurting people.

5:49 AM  

Okay people, really? Everyone knows the dynamic. Right? My husband of only months - of course another (yes not the first) narcissistic sociopath in my 53 years.. Here's the scariest part of all. The "personality type" or better yet, the stage in which you tell all, and the horrific past relationship and the in depth detail of the abuse, and then only to find them doing the EXACT same thing days maybe weeks later??!! It's as if they texted each other on how they "got you." (only they never met and/or spoke before) Suggestion: write a bullet point journal of your day, week, etc. notice the same "words" as noted by author of this publication. Notice the same situations. Better in examples.

1) Your ex locked you out of your home one night and you told your current husband this story right down to how you were able to sleep in your car or (already alienated from friends and family,) HAD no place to go and NO ONE to tell?
Then within say the next 2 weeks, HE locks you out from current home? You say to yourself, "are you kidding? I told him this very scenario not more than a week ago!!??" You comer, to avoid shame and then you hear, "don't think you can come and go as you please around here, it's my house..." You never told the second abuser what the first abuser said - right? Yes you did, but it was in what you said prior to the "lock-out" that did. i.e.: I was at my friend Julie's house and I wanted to make her feel like I cared so I stayed later than I expected... Regardless!!! Why are YOU explaining your actions? The truth is what your second NS was concentrating on, was what led up to the inability to get into your own house. What you did 2 hours before, what you said, what your wore, who you saw? Sound familiar? THAT is what they heard. It then became a giant "dream come true" for your current spouse/significant other. In the narcissists head it's "she deserved it, tried to control him, made him look bad, no going to bed together, nothing for me in that," (anger mounting) but words of condolence/understanding spoken.

Note: The second spouse could not separate himself from the unknown first abuser in his head... "nothing for me..."

I KNOW everyone gets this, and our author is amazing, examples we can relate to show progression, crisis, and emergency quite frankly. Use your own words to explain the severity. One does not "wake up to a narcissistic sociopath one day after 6 months or 6 years or 6 decades..." JPS

2:59 AM  

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