Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Contradictory Nature of Narcissists



THE CONTRADICTORY NATURE OF NARCISSISTS


EXCERPTS:
NO MATURE CONSCIENCE
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) .

ENTITLEMENT
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

CASUAL DISHONESTY &  CRUELTY
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.

CONTRADICTORY
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.

THEIR RELIGIOUSNESS
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."]
READ MORE HERE

(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


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5 Comments:

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  

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