Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let's Play Pretend

When a narcissist is abusing you, he or she is playing Pretend. It's like a play. It has a script.

Some children try to control a game of Pretend with their little friends. They are always stage directing and bossing the others around, because they want everyone to follow their script. They are constantly stamping their foot and yelling, "No! You're not supposed to do that! You're supposed to do THIS!"

"THIS" is always something that aggrandizes that bossy child, probably at the other kid's expense, which is why he doesn't want to play along with her script.

When you are interacting with a narcissist, that is what's going on. He is that bossy child who insists that you play along with his script in this little game of make-believe.

You trigger the narcissist's rage by not playing along, by departing from his script.

This is how it usually plays out: The victim reacts naturally to the narcissist's devaluing treatment. She might insist on having his attention for a moment. Or she may complain about some put-down. Or she may ask him to stop some obnoxious thing he's doing. In fact, she may do nothing more than just try to avoid the impending assault by leaving the room when he starts treating her like this to pick the usual fight. In doing any of these things, she is not following his script. So he attacks.

I think these attacks are just his way of herding you to behave the way he wants — making you follow his script. In other words, you're the steer, and he is a cowboy He is really just a little child mad at you for not playing along with his little game of Pretend. He's stamping his foot and yelling at you, "No! You're not supposed to do THAT! You're supposed to do THIS!"

Of course a grown narcissist must be subtle about it, so he can't come right out and tell you what to do. Therefore, he herds you in the direction he wants, like a cowboy herds cattle — riding on a big horse at you, yelling and waving his hat..

Another way of looking at it is that he trains you like you train a dog. When doggy pees outside, you praise him. When doggy pees inside, you get mad at him. In other words, you train him with positive and negative reinforcement, by waving carrots and sticks at him till he just prefers to behave the way you happen to want him to.

In the narcissist's script, his wife is supposed play Pretend-that-he-is-God-Almighty too. Which means that she supposed to bend over for it from God Almighty with a smile. She is to NOT insult him by acting as though she is his equal. NOT to act as though she is here to serve her interests instead of his. NOT to act as though she deserves consideration or respect from him, let alone appreciation and gratitude for her services. According to his script, she is NOT to upstage him by getting any attention or regard. She is to act as though she is as insignificant and flawed and intolerable as he portrays her.

By not acting out his fantasy for him, she is making his delusions harder to believe, and he hates her for making his delusions harder to believe. He hates her for this with the sudden, hard-wired hatred that flares up in us all at anyone physically attacking us.

What do I mean? Here's an example. If you are driving and someone crashes their car into yours, what's your first reaction? Come on, be honest. It's instant rage, isn't it? Embarrassing, but true — BOOM — it's right there. It's caused by a perceived violent act against your life. It lasts but a second, because we instantly quell it, knowing that it is uncalled for in a mere accident.

This explosive raw emotion flares up so suddenly because it's involuntary, genetically hard-wired into the brain. It's a reflex originating in the animal brainstem as part of the instant fight-or-flight response that kicks in with a general firing of the sympathetic nervous system and an adrenaline rush. This primitive, instinctive reaction is adaptive in the wild world, where it fits an animal to deal with sudden attack.

In civil society, however, it is usually inappropriate. This is why we must sit still a moment, telling ourselves it was an accident, not an attack, and to behave civilly when we get out of the vehicle to talk to the other driver.

Narcissists are mental three-year-olds who don't exert this self control.

Your failing to divine and follow his script a narcissist views as an attack. And, though nothing could be further from this woman's mind than attacking him, she IS attacking him! Make sure this part sinks in: by failing to divine and follow the narcissist's script, you are ATTACKING him. And he will react like a man desperately fighting for his life. Count on it.

For, does the Pinnacle of Creation have any consideration for a relative ant? Does he have any regard or feelings for an ant? Does he think an ant is important? Is it not an insult for an ant to regard itself as worthy of his notice? That's how his wife behaving as though she deserves respect attacks him: it attacks that mirage he identifies with. His godlike fantasy image of himself.

Remember, he identifies with it. He thinks it's him. So, if you say or do anything inconsistent with it, you attack it = you attack him.

It takes little thought to see that interaction with a narcissist is a dance in a minefield. For, virtually any normal thing a normal person does can disrupt this mirage. For example, a customer service representative unwittingly disrupts it by not offering the narcissist special treatment. A co-worker unwittingly disrupts it by expecting the narcissist to listen and cooperate.

Ants, ants, ants...thus "provoking" God Almighty all the time.

Kathleen Krajco