Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Narcissism and Intimacy

Narcissism and Intimacy: Love and Marriage in an Age of Confusion
Marion Solomon
ISBN-10: 0393309169
ISBN-13: 978-0393309164


A defining dimension of pathological narcissism is the inability to foster and maintain intimacy. Intimacy is not only feared - it is despised because it is perceived as 'common' and 'degrading'. The narcissist idealizes his sources of narcissistic supply and then habitually discards and devalues them. This book is instrumental both as a somewhat iconoclastic introduction to narcissism and as an anatomy of the frustration that is life with a narcissist. - Sam Vaknin

I feel that this book will help both men and women understand not only themselves but their spouse better. All of us have varying degrees of narcissism and in order to love someone we need to learn to control our own needs for the betterment of the two as one and the one we love. This book helps with giving one a better understanding of how we can do that and what may be holding us back from really experiencing true love and intimacy. - David G. Clifford

I read any book about narcissism eagerly, but this one disappointed me. The title "Narcissism and Intimacy" implied to me that this book would explain the frustrating and psychologically devastating maze that is life with a pathological narcissist. It didn't. Maybe because it is a book more about therapy than real life experiences, I found it murky and did not teach me anything new about the subject. Usually I find it heartening to read accounts of the impact of the narcissist on the lives of their significant others, but I really got nothing out of this book. I also got the idea the author was discussing regular narcissism, a personality trait, as opposed to pathological narcissism, a personality disorder. If you want to read a great book that will explain everything you want to know about pathological narcissism, read Sam Vaknin's book "Malignant Self Love", which is long and a little expensive, but really the ultimate book on the subject and worth every penny. If you want something shorter and less expensive, try "When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong" by Mary Jo Fay. - Sammy Madison

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lisa Nowak Case: The Astronaut's Narcissism in the Birthchart

Lisa Nowak Case: The Astronaut's Narcissism in the Birthchart

By Lynn Hayes

Any time someone does something completely bizarre and out of character, it's always makes me want to look at their astrological chart. Often we have subconscious elements that we are able to keep in the "basement" of our psyche until one day something begins to stir the pot and those buried parts of ourselves make themselves known. This periods are often associated with planetary cycles called transits.

Lisa Nowak was selected to be an astronaut back in 1996 and ten years later went into space on a journey to the international space station where she was the mission flight engineer. Married since 1988, she has three children but separated from her husband in January of 2007. This week she was arrested for attempted murder and kidnapping of a suspected rival for a man whom she described as being "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship."

Lisa Nowak has a complicated astrological chart. Her Sun is in the fixed sign of Taurus that craves stability and harmony, and it is in a challenging relationship (square) to Saturn, the planet of isolation, restriction and limitation. With Saturn in square to the Sun, which represents the essential Self, there is often a lack of self-esteem and a feeling of abandonment and loneliness. This system is exacerbated by another challenging aspect between Neptune and the Sun. Neptune tends to dissolve material reality and induce us to seek experiences that go beyond the material world, but in a challenging aspect (particularly with the Sun) there is a dissolving of our sense of Self and a tendency towards escapism and self-deception.

In this case, Saturn and Neptune are both square to the Sun, applying pressure to Lisa to develop a firm sense of her own identity while creating blocks in her ability to do so. Saturn and Neptune work against each other in the best of circumstances: Saturn urges us to develop strength and practicality by frustrating our desires and placing roadblocks in our way that force us to work harder to achieve our goals, while Neptune encourages us to go beyond the dry logic of materialism and connect to the world of spirit by opening our eyes to worlds beyond in a way that often makes it difficult for us to find our footing.

The planet Mars in Lisa's chart falls in Leo and squares the Sun and Neptune and opposite Saturn, forming a Grand Cross in fixed signs. The addition of Mars heightens the intensity of her rage (Mars) and shows a desperation to have her needs met (Mars opposite Saturn and square Neptune). The Grand Cross is a very difficult planetary combination but one that when integrated shows a powerful personality with strength and spirit. Often, however, that power comes at a great price and with a lot of hard work on oneself. Without that work, the personality can begin to splinter as these four opposing forces fail to bridge the gap between them.

Lisa's chart also shows a Grand Trine in Fire planets: Venus in Aries, Mars in Leo and the Moon in Sagittarius. The trine is a harmonious aspect, which many people define as "good" because the energy of the planets flow together, and the Grand Trine multiplies the ease of the trine creating a complacency and self-satisfaction. While difficult aspects like the T-square create discomfort in the individual, they provide strong motivation for change and evolution and build strength of character that helps us to get through difficult times. Fire is the element that while inspirational and creative also tends to be self-motivated and egoistic, and the Grand Trine in fire shows someone who is bold and has tremendous faith in herself and a lack of fear. Bil Tierney writes of the fire Grand Trine:

"The individual's strong and unshakeable belief in himself does allow him to succeed in his endeavors more often than not. ... He may, however, unconsciously be very demanding of attention, loyalty and even service from others while remaining emotionally unaffected by or even oblivious to their personal needs."

If an individual with this combination of a challenged sense of Self (the Sun/Saturn/Neptune T-square) with the egoistic focus of the fire Grand Trine does not work diligently to develop a healthy ego, a personality disorder is apt to follow. James Masterson, a noted expert in personality disorders, writes:

"The lack of this inner development is the key to borderline problems, which occur when a young child fails to separate her own self-image from that of her mother. This happens roughly between the ages of two and three, often because of a parent’s own emotional problems. A mother’s encouragement of a child’s self-assertion is vital. When the mother suffers from low self-esteem, she has difficulty encouraging her child’s emerging self. The child experiences this absence as a loss of self, creating feelings of abandonment that lead to depression. To deal with the depression, the child gives up efforts to support her emerging self. Instead, she relies on her mother’s approval to maintain the esteem of a "false self.""

The lack of self-esteem is shown in the birthchart by Saturn square to the Sun, the "false self" is shown by Neptune square to the Sun. Pathological narcissism arises when the false self is derived entirely from "audience feedback." Dr. Sam Vaknin writes:

"Narcissists are obsessed by delusions of fantastic grandeur and superiority. As a result they are very competitive. They are strongly compelled - where others are merely motivated. They are driven, relentless, tireless, and ruthless. They often make it to the top. But even when they do not - they strive and fight and learn and climb and create and think and devise and design and conspire."

A Maryland psychiatrist interviewed by the Baltimore Sun describes Lisa Nowak's behavior as suggestive of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. "When a narcissist's achievement or conquest is thwarted, he or she can fall into a rage, Vaeth said. 'When the right buttons are pushed, they explode.'"

Lisa was going through a number of planetary cycles that would have been pushing these buttons. Since last summer Saturn was making a number of passes over the difficult T-square involving her Sun, Saturn in her chart and Neptune. Transits of Saturn create pressure on us for change, and often are extremely stressfully personally and financially. In her case, this event would have activated her own sense of despair (Sun/Saturn) and delusion (Sun/Neptune). To make matters even more difficult for her, transiting Neptune (which is opposite Saturn in the sky) also began a pass over these sensitive points last fall which added more confusion and a dissolving of her tenuous hold on reality.

The tipping point came this week when the veneer that held Lisa Nowak's fragile personality together came apart. Hopefully this will be the event that motivates Lisa to seek the help she needs to be able to integrate her personality and realize the tremendous potential that lies hidden in her birthchart.

Lynn Hayes has been a practicing astrologer for over 20 years, specializing in psychological and transformational astrology. Visit her on the web and learn more about astrology at

Monday, February 26, 2007

Narcissistic Crime

Four Kinds of Crime

By Glenn Campbell

While observing the stream of delinquents passing through Juvenile Court, I have begun to detect some patterns. There are a broad range of alleged crimes presented to the judge, from shoplifting and graffiti to sexual assault and manslaughter. I am beginning to see, however, that all infractions—both juvenile and adult—fall into a few broad categories.

I am interested in what motivates a person to break the law. A simplistic answer is that they are "bad" or had a poor upbringing. I am more curious, however, about what it feels like at the time. What is the immediate motivation for the perpetrator — especially when the crime is obviously self-destructive.

I have deduced four basic motivations for breaking the law, several of which can contribute to the same act. Not all of these motivations are responsive to our traditional method of dealing with crime, which is punishment.

Crime for Material Gain

The most obvious crime is one committed for material gain. You want something, so you take it. For whatever personal reason, you covet an object or privilege, but there are legal barriers to obtaining it, so you breech them.

Cheating on your taxes is a fairly clear example of crime for material gain, as is breaking a shop window to steal the merchandise. Of course, there may be something complicated behind ones desire — the need to feed a drug habit, for example — but the motivation at the time is pretty straightforward: I want something, so I'll steal it.

Crimes for material gain are surprisingly rare in Juvenile Court. Yes, kids shoplift from Wal-Mart, but far more go joyriding, write graffiti or use drugs, crimes for which there is no possible material gain. Kids tend to be undirected in their criminal activities. For the majority of crimes, not only is nothing actually gained, but nothing material is expected to be gained at the time.

In adult court, I imagine that the proportions are different: There may be more materially directed crime, with a higher level of sophistication. Still, a material motiviation certainly doesn't explain all crime. Most crime, I contend, doesn't make any sense in terms of personal gain. It is stupid crime, but stupid in certain predictable ways.

Impulsive Crime

Most crime in Juvenile Court reflects some defect in emotional control. "I just wasn't thinking," says the kid when confronted by the judge. That's about the best the kid can come up with, because he doesn't really know why he did it.

When a kid gets angry, he's probably going to act out. He's going to break a window, punch someone or, if he has access to a gun, shoot someone. Most kids and many adults have never developed the emotional controls to mitigate their impulses. If they feel something, even for a few seconds, then they may feel compelled to act upon those feelings, regardless of the long-term consequences.

The human body (and human mouth) can be a terribly destructive weapon when you lose control of it. It takes only a few minutes to cause enormous devastation — enough to change dozens of lives forever. When it's over, you may immediately feel genuine remorse and shame, but is often too late.

Impulsive crime is not goal directed. Instead of being "drawn" to an attractive object, you are "pushed" by unpleasant feelings inside you. At the time of an impulsive act, there is no real thought of gain. It is more like, "I am feeling something humiliating inside me, so I must act immediately to try to make this feeling go away."

I define impulsive crime as an action taken in the short term: on a scale of seconds or minutes, not days or weeks. You don't ruminate over an impulsive act; you just feel it, then do it.

Narcissistic Crime

Some crime, while gaining the perpetrator little, is not impulsive. It can be planned over time and executed in deliberate steps, perhaps with like-minded colleagues. An example is the Columbine massacre, where the perpetrators stockpiled weapons and formulated a strategy before letting loose.

Obviously, there is nothing material to be gained from shooting a bunch of people and committing suicide. Likewise, there is not a lot of measurable benefit in becoming a serial killer or rapist. There is certainly an issue of impulse control involved but a different kind than simply feeling, then immediately reacting.

Narcissistic crime arises from a fundamental delusion about ones place in the world. The narcissist believes that he is the center of the universe and that the feelings of others have no value. The world, however, does not acknowledge his specialness, so he is forced to do things to prove it.

All of us begin as narcissists. We believe, at first, that we are the center of the universe. It is only over time and a healthy maturation process that we discover that we are just one soul of billions and that others have feelings just like we do. Some people, however, are unable to recognize this or have not yet made the transition.

Kids want, above all, to prove their value and uniqueness to the world. Paradoxically, this is the only way they can escape from narcissism, because they need a solid sense of self before they can appreciate others. If their environment devalues them and does not give them an opportunity to prove themselves, then they will seek self-esteem by devious means which often involve damaging property or hurting others.

Kids join street gangs to serve their narcissistic needs, because the gangs give them some sense of affirmation that they don't believe they can get elsewhere. Kids draw graffiti also to assert themselves. There is absolutely nothing to be materially gained by spray painting your "mark" on a building, but it feels good because it gives you a sense of dominance and control over a environment that otherwise does not acknowledge you.

Narcissistic crime gives the perpetrator the feeling that "I exist, I am powerful, I am important." This is a far more significant motivator than anything you can steal from Wal-Mart.

Statutory Crimes

A final category of crime reflects a natural clash between the individual and the state. Some crimes are not really goal-directed, impulsive or deliberate. They are committed with no evil intent; they just "happen." The law says one thing, but maybe you haven't read the law, or the law is irrational, or you haven't thought through all of the implications of your relatively innocent actions.

You are driving down an empty highway, and without thinking about it, you go a little faster than you should, and a cop pulls you over and gives you a ticket. Technically, you broke the law even when you hadn't really intended to.

You are going through an airport security checkpoint, which seems like an annoyance, and you try to be funny by making a joke about a bomb in your briefcase. You get arrested and are charged with a federal crime. Did you break the law? Technically, yes. Did you intend to break the law or cause any disruption? No. You were just ignorant of the law and miscalculated the effects of what you said.

Kids are much more vulnerable than adults to situations like this because their experience in the world is more limited. They don't know how saying or doing the wrong thing can be misconstrued.

Sometimes, the law itself is stupid. It is written by pea-brained legislators who are responding to the hysteria of the moment. The law will never intelligently address all of the complex issues of your life, so sooner or later you are going to have to break it.

Just pray you don't get caught.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me

Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me: How to Recognize and Manage the Narcissists in Your Life
by Les Carter
ISBN: 0787980633


I Want What I Want: Manipulative or Exploitive Behavior

Psychologically healthy people generally seek to be genuine, which involves a commitment to internal and external consistency. Simply put, genuineness means that someone's behavior can be trusted as an accurate reflection of that person's inner beliefs and priorities.

Narcissists are not genuine. The ways they publicly present themselves are not necessarily true representations of what they really feel or believe. They are more interested in posturing for favorable reactions than being known as authentic. Rather than understanding relationships as safe havens where openness and transparency can be practiced, they enter relationships looking for ways to coerce others to do their bidding. Narcissists replace fair and honest exchanges with behaviors that manipulate other people so that they can get their way.

One man, Jeff, described how he had learned to be cautious whenever he was in the presence of his sister, Lana. "I'm always watching my back whenever we have family get-togethers," he explained. "Lana can act as if she's your best pal, but I've learned that I can't let my guard down when she's friendly because history tells me that she's just setting me up for some manipulative purpose." For instance, as Jeff's extended family made preparations one year for a Thanksgiving Day gathering, Lana was most agreeable as she discussed her role in providing food. As Jeff put it, "Her cooperation seemed eerie because she has such a strong reputation for being argumentative or contrary regarding these sorts of things." Sure enough, as the Thanksgiving Day festivities wound down, Lana pulled her brother aside and said, "I need to ask a favor from you. My family has planned to go skiing over the Christmas break, and I'm going to need you to keep my dogs. Also, Grandma asked if she could stay with me for a couple of weeks, but since I'll be gone, I told her she could stay with you."

Right then Jeff understood why his sister had been cooperative with their Thanksgiving plans. She had two large, high-maintenance six-month-old puppies, and she did not want to pay to have them boarded. Jeff also knew that Lana often complained about attending to their Grandma's health needs, so Lana clearly did not want to have Grandma as a guest. Jeff realized that Lana had been buttering him up so he would agree to take on the chores she wanted him to do. She failed to consider that keeping the dogs would be difficult for him, given the fact that he and his wife had a newborn son, and that his wife was allergic to animal hair. Lana only cared about her needs and preferences.

The manipulations of narcissists know no limits. Sometimes the exploitive behavior takes on the form of false friendliness, as in the case of Lana's dealings with Jeff. Other times, narcissists will resort to making others feel guilty. For instance, when Lana sensed that Jeff was less than enthusiastic about doing her bidding, she listed three or four favors she had done for him recently. She assumed that if she couldn't reason with him, guilt might be a successful hook. Some even lack a conscience to prevent them from lying or conveying only partial truths. Others manipulate through pouting, giving others the silent treatment, being secretive or stubborn, conniving behind others' backs, or being intimidating. Whatever the means, their behavior indicates that they place no value on open, straightforward communication; their only concern is that they get their way.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In Love With the Devil

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- He's charming, good-looking, intelligent, generous and social. Where is this prince charming hiding? Not so fast, Cinderella. Things aren't always what they seem.

Meet 27-year-old Laura, a smart, attractive young professional who thought she found the same in Nick. "He was very different than the guys I dated in college," she says. "A big talker. A lot of plans. A lot of dreams."

But then things changed. After his start-up company failed, Nick convinced Laura to pay for everything for the remaining two years of their relationship -- while he sat at home being what he called an "entrepreneur."

"We were still going to the best restaurants, but instead of him paying, I was the one paying for everything. I even took over the payment on his car," Laura says. "There was one time where he transferred all of his credit card debt onto my credit card."

The money may be gone forever, but the lesson she learned is priceless. Laura was dating a narcissist -- a term you've almost certainly heard. And you could be involved with one without knowing it!

"They put it all together, and 'Oh my God, I'm dating a narcissist! No wonder he is, you know, lying to me and cheating on me all the time,'" Keith Campbell, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Georgia in Athens, tells Ivanhoe.

Dr. Campbell has spent 13 years researching narcissism -- defined as "excessive admiration or love of oneself." He says there are warning signs. They constantly talk about themselves. They're materialistic. "They might buy fancy car and leave the BMW keys on the breakfast table for everybody to see," he says.

Narcissists are charming and extroverted, but they also believe they're entitled to more than everyone else and never think they're wrong. They desperately need others to validate and admire them. Dr. Campbell says they are very good at starting relationships, but they have problems keeping them. What separates them from someone who is just cocky? Narcissists only care about themselves.

"You will talk to them, and their eyes will glaze over," says Dr. Campbell. "It's a way of showing control if they don't care about you."

So why is this so hazardous? Well, narcissists often become overconfident. They're also often dishonest and will take advantage of you. According to Dr. Campbell, "In romantic relationships, you are talking infidelity. In friendship, there's often betrayal."

But can they change? Maybe. But here's the catch: Most don't want to. Dr. Campbell says people who are narcissistic like it.

And he says it's easy to be duped. That's why it's important to know what to look for. Narcissism can also range from mild-to-moderate cases -- which may be tolerable -- to a full-blown personality disorder. And women can be narcissists too -- but they only make up about 25 percent of clinical cases, according to Dr. Campbell.

After having four kids together, Amy Miller tried desperately to save her once picture-perfect marriage. "I'm a nurse; I fix things, so I kept thinking, 'I can fix this. It will get better,'" she says. But she finally realized Robert -- a handsome tennis pro -- was never going to change.

"We would go to church as the perfect family, but then we would leave church, and he would go off with one of his women friends to go play tennis or go hiking to do something," Miller says. "And it was my fault for being jealous."

Miller, the eternal optimist, realized she had to stop hanging on to the "moments."

"When we would go on vacations, and we would do things, we had fun. But they wouldn't last, and -- like somebody told -- me you can't live off dessert. You have to have meat and potatoes. We didn't have the meat and potatoes. The day-to-day life? That didn't work," she says.

So turn the mirror on yourself ... And be sure you're not dating the devil in disguise!


Friday, February 23, 2007

Narcissism Revisited



In Ovid's tale, Narcissus is the handsome and proud son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. The nymph, Echo, falls in love with him but is rejected and withdraws into a lonely spot and fades away, leaving behind her voice. The goddess Nemesis hears prayers for vengeance and makes Narcissus fall in love with his own reflection, which cannot embrace. He sits by the pool, watching it until he dies and turns into the narcissus flower.

Primary narcissism

Primary narcissism is the initial focus on the self with which all infants start and happens from around six month up to around six years. It is a defense mechanism that is used to protect the child from psychic damage during the formation of the individual self.

Secondary narcississm

Secondary narcissism is the more 'normal' form, where older children and adults seek personal gratification over the achievement of social goals and conformance to social values.

A degree of narcissism is is common. It becomes pathological when the narcissist lacks normal empathy and uses others ruthlessly to their own ends.

Cerebral narcissists derive their self-adoration from their intellectual abilities and achievements.

Somatic narcissists focus on the body, seeking beauty, physique and sexual conquests.
Narcissist characteristics

Narcissists interact socially with others, but do not form relational social bonds with others. In order avoid being 'owned' by others, the narcissist reduces them to non-human objects.

Narcisssists often need to feel that they are the only good objects in the world and consequently harbor great envy, which appears as narcissistic rage that seeks to destroy the good objects of others. This leaves bad objects intact.

The fear of extinction is very significant for narcissists. They often age badly and the signs of aging infuriate them. They envy the young and will avoid or denigrate them. Faced with damning external evidence, they may retreat further inside.

Narcissists will deliberately harm themselves in order to frustrate others, failing exams, rejecting advice and taking drugs.
Inverted narcissism

Inverted narcissists projects their narcissism onto another narcissist, using projective identification to keep the narcissistic state both distant and close. They experience narcissism vicariously but are still narcissists.


Symptoms of narcissism include:

* Self-aggrandizement to the point of exaggeration, deception and outright lying.

* Seeking and requiring excessive attention, admiration and rewards from others.

* Fantasies of fame, power and success. Belief in their superiority over others.

* Exploitation of others without feelings of guilt.

* Envious of others. Belief that the perception is reciprocated.

* Given to frustration, anger and irrationality when they do not get what they


There are several schools of thought about what leads to narcissism. A common theme is that early transition into the 'real world' fails in some way, leading the person to remain, at least in part, in the early self-focused primary narcissistic stage.

Narcissism appears across families, perhaps through some genetic causes, but also in the way that a narcissistic parent is unable to bond with its children and thus causes it, too, to become a narcissist.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Narcissist In Court - Part 2

The following is from an attorney who learned about Narcissism prior to his divorce and was thereby able to have his attorney provoke the Narcissist to totally lose it on the stand:

I am an attorney and have recently gone through and finished a divorce with my ex-Narcissist spouse. I also had my deposition taken (I have taken many myself. I hereby offer you some gratuitous legal and strategic advice which should be no means conflict with whatever your attorney tells you. Not knowing which state you live in, it is impossible for me to offer any kind of specific legal advice, and it would be improper for me to do so anyway. I scored a perfect "100" in my deposition taken by my Narcissist-ex and lawyer. I adhered to the following rules:

1. Never look at the Narcissist. The lack of attention will be very upsetting to the Narcissist. It is a kind of narcissistic injury. Do not acknowledge their existence.

2. Whether their lawyer believes their BS is irrelevant. There is an old reworked saying - "Hell hath no fury like the lawyer of a Narcissist scorned". The lawyer may try to rattle you or make you uncomfortable. Ignore such attempts. Remain calm, cool and professional and answer all questions honestly and slowly. Give your lawyer time to object before you answer.

3. Most Important!! ALWAYS tell the truth even if you think an answer to a question will make you look foolish, silly, or anything else. Do not attempt to explain your answers to make them sound better. Keep your answers brief and to the point. Do not ramble or tell stories.

Regarding Depositions: Just remember that the purpose of a deposition is not to change anyone's mind. The purpose of a deposition is to "freeze" your testimony in writing so that any change or departure at trial can be used to hang you. That is why it is so important to tell the simple truth and not to embellish. Do not try to prove yourself right or Narcissist wrong. Just remember - if you lie, you die!

The time and place to deal with the Narcissist is in the courtroom. Let your lawyer do his job. Family law judges are disgustingly used to the lying and emotionality that goes along with divorces. You must at all costs wear the white gloves and do nothing to indicate to the judge that you are sneaky or vengeful.

To summarize the most important advice:

The real trick to beating a Narcissist in Court is twofold in nature.

FIRST: To catch them in a lie when they are on the stand is sublime.

But, you must have ABSOLUTE, UNCONTROVERTIBLE proof of the lie, proof that is admissible in court by rules of evidence or by unassailable testimony. When confronted with the impeaching evidence, a Narcissist will react with fury, more lying (which will be visible to everyone except the Narcissist) and will in general actively discredit themselves.

SECOND: The second part of the process is more subtle. If possible, your counsel should structure the cross-examination of the Narcissist to bring out and allow the Narcissist to magnify his or her grandiose self. It is often enough just to let the Narcissist be himself or herself. Emotionally-healthy individuals can generally see through the false self and discern the true motives of the Narcissist.

Remember, though, at the end of the day, family law courts are generally not interested in the emotional aspects of your divorce. Most states are "no fault" divorce states, and even though judges are people and have emotions, generally they are interested in numbers and custody issues. Judges do tend to ignore all the drama, but if you can get a Narcissist to lie under oath and properly expose them, this will have a bearing on the witness' credibility with the judge.

That is why it SO important for us to tell the truth at all times no matter how foolish we may think we look AND for us to conduct ourselves in a Calm, Rational and Dignified manner.

Sam Vaknin

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Narcissist In Court - Part 1

A clear distinction has to be made between the FACTUAL pillar and the PSYCHOLOGICAL pillar of any cross-examination or deposition of a Narcissist.

It is essential to be equipped with absolutely unequivocal, first rate, thoroughly authenticated and vouched for information. The reason is that narcissists are superhuman in their capacity to distort reality by offering highly "plausible" alternative scenarios which fit all the facts.

It is very easy to break a narcissist - even a well trained and prepared one.

Here are a few of the things the narcissist finds irresistible:

* Any statement or fact which seems to contradict his or her inflated perception of his grandiose self.

* Any criticism, disagreement, exposure of fake achievements, belittling of "talents and skills" which the narcissist fantasizes that he or she possesses, any hint that he or she is subordinated, subjugated, controlled, owned or dependent upon a third party.

* Any positioning of the narcissist as average and common, indistinguishable from many others.

* Any intimation that the narcissist is weak, needy, dependent, deficient, slow, not intelligent, naive, gullible, susceptible, not in the know, manipulated, or a victim.

* The narcissist is likely to react with rage to all these and, in an effort to re-establish his fantastic grandiosity, he is likely to expose facts and stratagems he or she had no conscious intention of exposing.

* The narcissist will also react with narcissistic rage, hatred, aggression, or violence to an infringement of what he perceives to be his or her entitlement.

* Narcissists believe that they are so unique and that their lives are so cosmically significant that others should defer to their needs and cater to their every whim without question. The narcissist feels entitled to special treatment by unique individuals, over and above the regular "bloke".

* ANY insinuation, hint, intimation, or direct declaration that the narcissist is not special at all, that he is average, common, not even sufficiently idiosyncratic to warrant a fleeting interest will inflame the narcissist.

ADD to this a negation of the narcissist's sense of entitlement - and the combustion is inevitable.

Tell the narcissist:

* that he or she does not deserve the best treatment,
* that his or her needs are not everyone elses priority,
* that he or she is boring,
* that his or her needs can be catered to by an average practitioner (medical doctor, accountant, lawyer, psychiatrist),
* that he or she and his motives are transparent and can be easily gauged,
* that he or she will do what he is told,
* that his or her temper tantrums will not be tolerated,
* that no special concessions will be made to accommodate his or her inflated sense of self, etc.

When approached in this manner, this will cause the narcissist to lose control the majority of the time.

Remember, the narcissist believes that he or she is the cleverest, far above the madding crowd. If contradicted, exposed, humiliated, berated ("you are not as intelligent as you think you are", "who is -really- behind all this? It takes sophistication which you don't seem to have", "so, you have no formal education", "you are (mistake his age, make him much older)... sorry, you are ...old" "what did you do in your life? did you study? do you have a degree? did you ever establish or run a business?" "would your children share your view that you are a good father?" "you were last seen with a Mrs. ... who is (suppressed grin) a DOMESTIC (in demeaning disbelief))", a narcissist will stand the chance of losing it.

I know that many of these questions cannot be asked outright in a court of law. But you CAN hurl these sentences at him during the breaks, inadvertently during the examination or during the deposition phase, etc.

Sam Vaknin

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Narcissism in the Bible

Since narcissism is univerally inherent in all of us--and we arealmost always unconscious of it--it affects nearly everything we do. This includes religion.

As I've noted in other articles, narcissism involves splitting people into "all-good" and "all-bad," projecting all evil onto the "bad," scapegoating it, and trying to destroy it, leaving only the perfect "all-good." It is, in my opinion, the basis for human sacrifice.

For a current, political/religious/economic example of this, the US has for decades considered itself "good" (indeed chosen by God), which automatically devalues the more "backward" countries, in greater or lesser degree, as "bad."

This led the US government to believe it could interfere in those countries, including, currently, the Islamic ones, essentially reducing foreign citizens to the status of "things."

In the case of the narcissist Osama bin Laden, he has a grandiose view of Islam and a devalued view of the US. He believed this gave him the right to mass-murder US citizens. In response, the US devaluved bin Laden and his cohorts as "the evil ones." It's all just a vicious circle, for millenia, everyone elevating themselves and devaluing others.

Obviously, there is such a thing as mass psychopathology. To put it as simply as possible, all narcissists--and all countries are narcissistic--are abusive. The US abuses other countries, they abuse us back, then we abuse them again. Around and around and around we go, all through the ages.

Let's apply narcissism to the idea of "perfect" religious books. All books are written by humans. People may claim it was under the direction of God, but when it comes right down to it, they're all written by people (actually these books are written by the winners, as all history is written by the winners. Then they grandiously claim they won because God was on their side).

The fact that there are so many holy books, with so many different interpretations by so many different people, shows that something has gone wrong, somewhere.

Why, then are some books, such as the Bible and the Koran, considered by some fundamentalists to be perfect and without flaw, no matter how many obvious mistakes, mistranslations and contradictions are in them? (I use the example of God walking through the Garden of Eden. God has feet?)

Because in their narcissism some people idealize--idolize-- these books (and in their narcissistic self-deception they can't admit it--they're terrified to, believing something awful will happen to them.) This means that anyone who disagrees that these books are perfect are going to be scapegoated, and the attempt will be made to destroy them (or send them to Hell.) This has been the history of the world.

Incidentally, the word "Hell" does not exist in the Bible. The word Jesus used, "Gehenna," is a proper noun referring specifically to one place, a trash dump outside the city. It was always on fire and the dead animals in it were full of maggots (translated in the Bible as "worms.") It was also the place where children had been sacrificed to Moloch.

It is interesting that Jesus used in his sayings a place of human sacrifice, just as I always found it interesting that the Gospels fail to mention that when he drove the money-changers out of the Temple, there left with them those who sold small animals, such as pigeons and doves, for sacrifice to God.

"Hel" is a Norse goddess, ruler of the underworld, who was not particularly scary except that half her face was featureless. The concept of "Hell" is an invention of dishonest, narcissistic and arrogant people who, not content with merely cursing or killing their enemies, wish to torture them for eternity.

Malignant religious narcissism is why, past and present, so many people have died in the name of religion ("Since we have God on our side, you must have the Devil on yours, so you are an unholy threat and we must kill you.")

Society sits on top of our biological, animal nature and represses it. Narcissism, since it is part of our primitive biology, is actually opposed to society. When it erupts from our animal nature into society, it damages and sometimes destroys civilization.

A definition of idolatry is to worship the Created instead of the Creator; to worship that which is false, and to worship Man and his opinions instead of the truth. To worship a book (created by man's opinions) over God (the Creator) is called "idolatry of the written word." Therefore, fundamentalists of all religions are idolators who have murdered an untold amount of people throughout history...all in the name of a "holy" book. (It's also assuming that God, having spoken once, will never speak again.)

The Third Commandment (correctly translated as "Word" or "Utterance") predicted this would happen: "You will not use God's name for vain purposes." This doesn't mean not to say "goddamn." It means not to use God's name in vain causes, like murdering the name of God.

A book is not reality. It's a map, a model of reality. It can be a good map or a bad map, but it's still only a map, not reality. If it's logically coherent and corresponds to reality, it's a good map. A non-narcissistic map like that of Moses: "Don't steal, kill and envy" is a good map, one that is the basis of every successful society. A hideously narcissistic map like that of Karl Marx: "Murder, steal and envy," invariably leads to destruction and genocide.

What is truly curious about the Ten Commandments is that nearly every one of them represses our narcissistic animal nature. Murdering, stealing, and deception (lying) are what animals do it each other as their nature; envy is, as psychiatrist Richard Restak has pointed out in his book on narcissism, The Self Seekers, probably the main symptom of narcissism. Murdering, stealing, lying, envy, and splitting things into either "all-good" or "all-bad" (scapegoating) are a sure bet, slowly but surely, to bring a society to ruin.

All books are fiction. Even "non-fiction" books are fiction. They are not reality. They may be convenient, useful fictions, but they are still--all of them--fiction. They are supposed to point to reality, not replace it. If you read a non-fiction book about war, you're not actually in a war.

Many books are propaganda. They are attempts to convert people to the view of the book. If the targets are children, this can be particularly insidious, because it's an attempt by adults to essentially hypnotise them for life.

Such attempts at hypnosis are not the exclusive province of religion. Science, for all its claim of an open-minded search for the truth, is also guilty. Maybe not as guilty, but certainly not as pure and disinterested as it is portrayed.

One needs only to look at the writings of Richard Dawkins, an atheistic nihilist who attempts, quite wittily, to propagandize that his peculiar and extraodinarily narrow view of Darwinian evolution applies, without evidence, to everything in the universe. His is not a search for the truth; his is an attempt to ensorcel people as he has been ensorceled (since he idolizes evolution as God, he not surprisingly devalues and scapegoats its opponents as "possibly evil.")

Such people are self-appointed priest-kings, and self-appointed Messiahs; they attempt to set up closed systems, supposedly the absolute truth, with no dissent tolerated in doctrine or by followers. Freud did it, and so did Ayn Rand. This is not education but an attempt to blind people. They are idolaters who idealize themselves and their systems (Freud once said he thought "most men were trash.")

Pete Singer, author of Animal Liberation, is another example of an idolator. To him Nature is an idol; human beings are evil because they "damage" nature, so he unconsciously scapegoats them and calls for human sacrifice--he has suggested that infants and the elderly be euthanized.

As idolators, such people are scapegoaters. All idolators are scapegoaters.

When one reads fiction, and becomes engrossed in it to the exclusion of the outside world, one is actually hypnotised. But when one reads a "non-fiction" book, doesn't realise it is fiction, then the hypnosis can last for years. This is one of the reasons why people have such a hard time breaking free of religious cults; they think fiction is reality, and are terrified to leave...thinking something awful will happen to them.

When one person or group narcissistically claims their book is perfect, and therefore logically outcasts and scapegoats another group, the latter group, being deemed evil, will be cursed.

We may smile at primitive tribes whose shamans and witch-doctors try to cast spells on people, but what is the difference between them and more "modern" people who curse other people because they don't believe as the cursers do? Is this not a modern-day spell? Is it not literally an attempt at sorcery?

There is an amusing scene in the late '70's movie, Love at First Bite, (which is a comedy about, of all things, a disco-era vampire) when the vampire (George Hamilton) is sitting across a table from a descendant of van Helsing (Richard Benjamin.) Each is trying to hynotise the other: "You're getting sleeepy..." "No, you're getting sleepy!" "No, I'm not sleepy, you are!" And on and on, back and forth. Finally, the love interest of both of them (Susan St. James), rolls her eyes up, gets up and leaves.

This is comedy in fiction (made funnier by the fact there is a religious tone to the movie, "good" against "evil"), but in real life the effects are not amusing.

When people speak of an angry, hateful God, they're projecting their own worst, grandiose, immature, hateful narcissistic characteristics. Which is why Jesus spoke of God as "Abba," ("Daddy") an attempt to overthrow this narcissistic projection onto God. He did this in a more subtle way with John the Baptist, who comes across as a cranky fundamentalist when he refers to people as a "brood of vipers." Jesus counters this by referring to them as "children who wouldn't pipe" and then demotes John by referring to the least in the Kingdom of Heaven as greater than him.

Satan, (which means "adversary" or "accuser," then, would be an "all-bad" narcissistic projection ("the evil is not in me; it's out there.")

I suspect this projection of human characteristics is how human sacrifice got started. How to placate these awful gods? We must project our evil onto a scapegoat and then destroy it. With the evil gone, the gods will be sated and not destroy us. But why not sacrifice, say, a mouse? Not important enough. So what's important, in fact the most important of all? Human life. This is why in the Bible children were sacrificed to Moloch.

I doubt the sacrificers really wanted to sacrifice. They were terrified not to.

There are quite a few subtle references to the evil of sacrifice in the Bible. The myth of Satan is the story of a psychopath who wishes to sacrifice everyone; Adam tries to sacrifice Eve and Eve tries to sacrifice the serpent: Gehenna was a place of human sacrifice: Jesus drove out of the Temple those who sold pigeons and doves for sacrifice.

The Nazis and Marxists engaged in human sacrifice, as do fundamentalists. We have to get rid of these evil people or we will be destroyed! When Muslims blow planes out of the sky in the name of jihad ("holy war") it's still human sacrifice. For that matter, all war can be considered a form of human sacrifice.

A map of the world is not the world. A very detailed map (logically coherent and corresponding to reality) is an excellent map. A bad map, on the other hand, will only get you disoriented, lost, or killed.

In the long-run what the map produces is what counts. Jesus' comments about "bad trees producing bad fruit" and "good trees producing good fruit" are relevent. Unfortunately, a tree can be both good and bad at the same time, and produce both good and bad fruit. This is why religion has created such good and evil. (The anti-narcissism in religion, exemplified by the Golden Rule, is one of the things that has advanced society. The narcissism in religion-- "I'm right and I'm going to kill you and send you to Hell"--is what has sent society and religion backward.)

There is, unfortunately, a lot of narcissism in the Bible. In the Gospels some Pharisees scapegoated the outcasts, such as the diseased, prostitutes, the poor, women, and gentiles. They were considered impure and unclean. This is an excellent example of "We are good because we are God's chosen--we are wealthy, healthy, male, and of the right religion. You, because you fit none of those categories, are bad." Pure narcissism.

It is these hypocrites that Jesus spoke against when he attempted to include outcasts in society. He was trying to overcome his opponents' narcissism.

However, not all Pharisees are as the Gospels portrayed them. Jesus himself was apparently a Pharisee speaking against the close-minded fundamentalists of his age. Unfortunately, the writers of the Gospels turned around and scapegoated the Pharisees--and especially the Jews, even though Jesus was a Jew. These scapegoating of Jews in the Gospels is what has led to nearly 2,000 years of anti-Semitic genocide. This is why, as M. Scott Peck has so clearly pointed out, that scapegoating is the genesis of human evil.

If the Jews have been historically devalued and scapegoated, then who has been idealized? Jesus has--he has been idolized as God.

However, he never claimed he was God (the closest was when he said, "I and the Father are one.") When he was addressed as "good rabbi," he claimed, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God." His healing power was stolen from him, and he did not know who did it; he was helpless to heal unless people had faith that he could; he said people would know "the Father" and be told all they needed to know; he said people could be his equal when trained, and could do all that he did, and more. He said there were things he did not know, but only God did.

Jesus, then, has been turned into an idol. Hence all the killing done in his name. All idolators are scapegoaters, and all scapegoaters are idolators. Seeing something as "perfect" always involves something else being scapegoated to order to maintain the "perfection."

One of the ways he was narcissistically idolized is through the Virgin Birth. The word "virgin" is actually translated "young woman." The two Jewish writers of the Gospels, being able to read the original writings, never mentioned the Virgin Birth. The two non-Jewish writers, only having access to the mistranslations, created it (and stories of virgin births exist in other mythologies, so, like "Hell," this is more pagan influence in the Bible).

The power of Christianity comes from believing we are forgiven. Nietzsche made some interesting comments about forgiveness. When he wrote that "God is dead" he didn't mean that God had actually died. He meant that the educated people of his time had ceased to believe. And with no one to forgive them, they would begin to hate themselves or hate others. He predicted the horrors of the 20th Century.

When people can't forgive, they scapegoat. If they can't forgive themselves, they cast their evil onto others and scapegoat them.

Bob Wallace

Monday, February 19, 2007


Why Leaders Make a Mistake, Can't Fix it and Won't Admit it.

A world leader can make a huge mistake such as leading their nation to an unjust war, then, after the reasons for the war are shown to be invalid, not be able to bring themselves to admit that the mistake that the war was wrong or be “big enough” to reverse policy and stop the war. Instead, they continue to maintain that the war was right all along, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They defend their error, fail to reverse course, and allow many more to die needlessly.

This happens often in history. One thinks of Napoleon’s foolish invasion of Russia. Hitler did the same a century later. One thinks of Vietnam. One thinks of Iraq.

Psychiatrists call it "narcissistic rage in leaders". It is direct evidence of a leader's fundamental psychological weakness--a damaged and fragile self-concept. But it can also lead to the destruction of individuals, groups, organizations, and even entire nations.

According to Drs. Mardi Horowitz and Ransom Arthur, leaders who exhibit narcissistic rage use "states of rage" to intimidate subordinates. That is, they use their anger, threats, and tyrannical tantrums to get their way. Narcissistic rage characterizes many historical figures, present world leaders, lesser politicians, corporate executives, heads of organizations, and even factory bosses.

Dr. Horowitz is the Director of the Center for the Study of Neuroses at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute in San Francisco and a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco. Dr. Arthur is a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-Los Angeles. Their classic 1988 study still stands as the definitive work on this topic.

They theorize that leaders prone to narcissistic rage have inner fantasies of having unlimited power (omnipotence) while they actually possess varying degrees of real power. Because they realize, on some psychological level at least, that it is their fantasies that are invariably greater, they become easily threatened when their power is in the slightest way challenged. Even a subordinate's hesitation in carrying-out a leader's command can be misinterpreted as a threat, thus triggering an angry outburst--a narcissistic rage.

Referring to the classic cases of Caligula, Nero, Hitler, and Mussolini, Drs. Horowitz and Arthur write that "we infer that their inner psychodynamics also involved a fundamentally damaged self-concept, and that this might be why any action which appeared to cast doubt on the leader's omnipotence was savagely punished."

They note, "because of this situation, all independent thinkers must eventually leave the inner circle of advisers of such leaders. They will tend to be replaced by individuals whose primary objective is keeping the leader pleased. In order to keep the leader serene, bad news, however true, is either not presented or is presented in such a way that a scapegoat other than the leader can be found and punished."

One immediately thinks of Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War or Richard Nixon during Watergate.

In fact, there is much evidence that the advisers of many of today's leaders do precisely this. In fact, John F. Kennedy was the last U.S. President who was allowed by his minders to read newspapers in their original. All U.S. Presidents since have been given selected newspaper clippings and news briefings by White House staff. One former White House insider claims that on many days, Ronald Reagan was given only the comic strips. And even these were "edited". For instance, he was not given “Doonesbury” whenever it was critical of him.

George W. Bush “browbeat” advisers to find a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Quieda when they continually found none.

Drs. Horowitz and Arthur further theorize that when a leader's narcissistic rage is triggered, the target of the rage is portrayed as "a hostile aggressor who might insult, injure, subjugate, or engulf the [leader's] self. Instead of fear of deflation, injury, or subjection, the manifest feeling is anger." They add, "all evil attributes are externalized and others, not the self, are blamed. The self becomes the aggressor and an attack on the other becomes justified by the bad intentions attributed to him."

Perhaps this helps to explain, among other events such as Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini's revengeful outrage at Salmond Rushdie. In Rushdie's THE SATANIC VERSES, a character similar to the Ayatollah is satirized unmercifully. Rushdie is still in hiding, afraid for his life.

Saddam Hussein becomes the receptacle in which is contained all evil. “He tried to kill my Daddy” is frosting on the cake of war justification. No matter that Hussein was once an ally.

But not only are individuals the victims of the narcissistic rage in leaders. Wars, genocide campaigns, and the devastation of nations can result. Millions can perish because a leader is plagued by a fragile self-concept and a profound, but continually denied, sense of inferiority. In a desperate attempt to satisfy an insatiable thirst caused by an internal weakness of the self, the narcissistic leader drinks the hopefully quenching waters of external power. However, in doing so the leader must forever guard the well--lest others steal one drop for themselves.

It is no wonder that Hussein, an abused and neglected child, extracts revenge upon his enemies with genocide against the Kurds and ruthless elimination of his rivals.

The narcissistic rage of leaders can be extremely destructive to any organization, business, or political group. In his 1921 essay, "Group Psychology and the Analysis of Ego", Sigmund Freud partially described six phases of a group's behaviour after its leader exhibits narcissistic rage. Drs. Horowitz and Arthur have expanded on Freud's description. They write that at the end of the sixth phase, one of three scenarios results: "a) Ruination: The organization succumbs; b) Blood Bath: The leader removes most subordinates and starts over by a massive expenditure of his resources; c) Mutiny: The leader is removed, perhaps by a new hero who challenges and defeats him, and himself becomes the leader."

They observe, "The person who becomes a leader has usually done so in part because he has both extraordinary skills and ambitions for this goal. During his or her quest for power the person fantasized the pleasure he or she would experience in wielding it. To some extent, especially in those vulnerable to narcissistic rages, the pleasure may be in the relief of the chronic pain of a damaged self-concept and pervasive sense of inferiority."

Nevertheless, they ironically add, "When power is actually obtained by such individuals, it is found to be imperfect in relation to expectations. The majority of leaders weather such flies in the ointment of success in a mature manner, with wisdom and humor. Those leaders with vulnerable self-concepts cannot accept the disappointment, and strive for omnipotence."

Drs. Horowitz and Arthur observe, "What is so dramatically seen in the famous continues to be found at a more ordinary level of leadership and group process. Although injuring far fewer people than is the case with a head of state, narcissistic executives still impair institutions or individual lives through the destructiveness of bullying rages and their effects on group processes."

Our leaders are more fragile than they think.

Dr Stephen Jaun

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The God Complex

Narcissism was first described in psychiatric literature as "the God Complex." On the face of it, that's pretty self explanatory. In fact, everyone who's had anything to do with a narcissist will say, "Yup, s/he thinks s/he's God."

But since that's a cliché so overworn that it hardly sinks in with any exact meaning, it's well worth a pause to ask ourselves exactly what that means. Just what is a god? What can we say about our relationship with one?

God is very important — all important. We exist for his sake, not our own. That is, we are to fulfill his desires, not our own. Our conduct is to glorify him, not ourselves. We are here to serve him, not our own interests. He doesn't pay us for our services: we owe him everything, including any sacrifice.

Notice that, in any other context, his rights with respect to us amount to property rights. They are rights of ownership. We would describe the relationship between a master and a slave in exactly the same terms. A slave is to be a selfless executioner of someone else's will. In fact, the ancient word for servant was synonymous with "slave," a fact that has fallen into obscurity over the past few centuries of religious teaching.

His ownership of us is what gives a god the right to judge us. For, the owner of property is also the judge of its worth. He has a right to take a sledge hammer to it if he wants. By virtue of his ownership of others, a god is therefore the judge of their worth. He too has a right to destroy his property if he wants. In fact the ancient words for "god" and "idol" were synonymous with "king" and "master" and meant "judge." He is to ultimately judge us as worthy of keeping (saving, preserving) or not. If not, he condemns us like a worthless building and fires us = throws us away (into Hell).

But he himself is never to be judged. To fault him in any way is unthinkable. He is righteous by virtue of who he is, not what he does. To question the righteousness of what he does to his property would be akin to cattle arguing that their owner does evil in slaughtering them. Simply because he owns them, he has the right to do with them as he pleases.

Here are some examples that show this — examples of things God has done that would be viewed as wrong if any human being had done them:

· It would be wrong for anyone to order the extermination of all the original inhabitants of a conquered land. Yet God ordered the Israelites to exterminate all the original inhabitants of Palestine. In fact, he became so angry when they left a few alive that he made the earth swallow up a whole tribe.

· It would be wrong for us to stand by and do nothing while our innocent child was tortured and killed. In fact, people go to prison for "failure to protect" their children. But God handed over his only begotten son for that purpose and then forgave the guilty parties on the grounds that the falsely accused victim paid their debt of punishment for them.

· It would be wrong for us to stand by and do nothing about pain and suffering that we could alleviate. Yet people buried alive in an earthquake beg God to at least let them die quickly but are denied their petition and suffer a protracted death for no conceivable purpose except maybe to punish them for something.

· If the President's subordinates do something bad on his authority that he knew about before they did it, we impeach him. But God is not faulted for allowing the episcopal and monastic Inquisitions to curse, loot, and burn in his name and claiming his authority for 900 years.

In other words, a god is infallible, has the right to do anything. Whatever he does is right by definition, because he did it. Even if the same thing would be very wrong for anyone else to do.

This is, of course, a double standard. So, a god needn't abide by the standards he sets for others. Because he is superior, he is entitled to a lower set of moral standards. In fact, he is entitled to an infinitely lower set of moral standards, because a god can do anything he wants and not be faulted for it. Nobody holds a god answerable for anything.

Narcissists are no fools. They like that arrangement. They view themselves as special and impose the same relationship on us mere mortals by playing the role of a god with respect to us.

And so, it's no wonder that a narcissist acts out the same story and gets really obnoxious the moment you depart from the script: He is very important — all important. Others exist for his sake, not their own. They are to fulfill his desires, not their own. Their conduct is to glorify him, not themselves. They are here to serve his needs, not their own. He doesn't pay them for their services: they owe him everything, including any sacrifice.

Notice that, in any other context, his rights with respect to them amount to property rights. He is the judge of his property's worth and has the right to abuse or trash us if he wants. He himself is never to be judged. To fault him in any way is unthinkable. He is righteous by virtue of who he is, not what he does. So, he need not live up to the standards he sets for us or even the standards of common decency. He is answerable for nothing. Nothing he does, no matter what, is wrong, though the same things would be very wrong for us to do.

Once you notice all these parallels in godhead and narcissism, it is no wonder that the victims of narcissists always complain that she thinks she's God.

But wait — there's a flip side, a lighter side to the God Complex. There is another relationship described by the same set of rules. Can you think of it? Go on, keep searching your brain for the answer. Give up?

Just what is an infant? What can we say about one?

An infant is very important — all important. Others exist for its sake, not their own. They are to fulfill its desires. They are here to serve its needs, at the expense of their own. Their eyes are mirrors to see itself glow in 24-7. It doesn't pay them for their services: they owe it everything, including any sacrifice. Notice that, in any other context, its rights with respect to them amount to property rights. It judges their performance and hits them and kicks them and screams at them for not knowing and providing whatever it wants at the moment.

Yet it is never to be judged. To fault it in any way is unthinkable. It is righteous by virtue of being an infant, not by virtue of what it does. So, it need not live up to the standards of common decency. It is answerable for nothing. Nothing it does, no matter what, is wrong, though the same things would be very wrong for grownups to do.

Kathleen Krajco

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Emotional Unavailability

Emotional Unavailability: Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap
by Bryn C. Collins
ISBN: 0809229145
ISBN-13: 9780809229147


Imagine this....

You've been invited to a party, but you realize on the day you're pretty sure the party is happening that you're not sure what kind of party it is or what time you should arrive. Well, you're smart and you'll give it your best shot. So you dress in a kind of neutral casual-dressy style and show up at seven.

As you come up the walk, you can hear the sounds of a party: music, laughter and you think, "This is going to be a great party." When you come up the stairs you can smell aromas coming from the house and again you say to yourself, "This is going to be a great party."

You ring the bell and your host emerges wearing a bemused, enigmatic smile... and a tuxedo

"You're late," he says. "I'm sorry. You didn't tell me what time the party was." "I thought you would figure it out" he says. "Well I am here now," you say . Your host looks you up and down. "That may be true, but you are not dressed properly." You look down at your elegant, if casual, clothing and then at his black-tie formal wear. "Yes, that's true. But I'm not that far from home. I can just go and change quickly and be right back."

You desperately think about what's in your closet that would fit with formal wear and how long it will take to press it. You add up the travel time, wonder what you'll have to do to your hair to look right, how to change your make-up.... after all this still seems like it'll be a great party......Your host shakes his head. "But then you'll be really late." Dinner will be over and I was COUNTING on you to sit right beside me at the head table."

Your heart sinks. Your one chance and you blew it! Inside your head, you say several unflattering things about yourself, your abilities, your intelligence, and your potential, but out loud you declare, "Honest, I'll be back in 45 minutes. I'll be perfect. Can't you wait? You cannot imagine how you'll be back, but you want so badly to be the guest of honor.

Your host shakes his head. "Well, I don't know. But what are you planning to bring to contribute to the dinner? I've told you how much I like those special, individual nineteen-layer cakes you bake. I thought you'd know to bring one for every guest."

Behind him you can still hear the laughter and the music; you can still smell the exotic foods, and you can still see the champagne in his glass. And you still think it's the greatest party ever and you still want to be the guest of honor.

That is what an emotionally unavailable relationship feels like. You're just never quite good enough to get admitted to the party. You get seduced by the clear, often indirect and unspoken, message that something is just a little wrong. If you can fix that, the implied promise goes, you'll be the guest of honor and win the door prize: love...

But when you "fix" what was "wrong" the first time, something else is a little "wrong." And when you fix that, something else will appear.

Your host has no intention of making you or anyone the guest of honor. Your host also has no ability to make you the guest of honor - or even to open the door to let you in. Your host is suffering from emotional unavailability. This is the inability of a person to reach out and make a heart connection with another person.

What is so unsettling and painful is that you end up with the clear belief that this somehow your fault and that it's your responsibility to fix it by being perfect. If it isn't fixed, you're not perfect enough.

You did not break it, you don't have to fix it.

You say to yourself that you would never get caught in a situation like that, it seems obvious... until - you are in the middle of it..... it doesn't start out with unreasonable demands of perfection. If it did, you'd walk away after the first five minutes. We all get sucked into emotionally unavailable situations because the process is subtle and progressive.The demands move a little at a time, inching you away from your power base, shifting control of the situation to the emotionally unavailable person. This person doesn't want love as much as he or she wants CONTROL. Emotions are unsafe; control gives the illusion of safety.

It is perfectly reasonable to expect an emotional connection with someone with whom you are in a relationship. We expect police officers to enforce the laws, teachers to teach, etc.. These expectations put us into a particular mind-set when we're around those people.

Over time you expect a relationship to grow and deepen. When your partner turns out not to be making an emotional connection, it causes trauma; that is why these relationships are so painful. The trauma then does further damage as it undermines your expectations about yourself and YOUR abilities to make connections. As illogical as that may seem, it's human nature to look for the flaws in ourselves when things don't go as we expect.

We end up being traumatized twice in these relationships; once by the loss and abandonment and again by the loss of our own confidence in ourselves. That is why the end of these relationships can be so much more painful than the end of a fully realized relationship.. We ruminate about what we could have done differently to make it work...."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pathological Narcissism is a Spiritual Disorder

In the following description of the NPD syndrome, I use the pronoun "she" to refer to the narcissist, for the sake of avoiding the cumbersome "he/she" and " his/her."

A fifth-century theologian who called himself Dionysius the Aereopagite once wrote in The Divine Names that, "The denial of the true Self is a declension from Truth."iiIn the last analysis, in constructing and clinging to their false selves, the entire persona of the NPD is a big lie. That being so, I have come to believe that NPD is not a psychological disorder at all, but a moral and spiritual disorder. Allow me to explain. An intrinsic attribute of the NPD syndrome is deception--of oneself and of others--in the service of maintaining the grandiose false self. Philosopher René Descartes wrote that "willful deception evinces maliciousness and weakness."A person does not deceive without thinking about and willing it. One does not lie unless one intends to hide the truth, which means that one knows that one is being deceptive. Nor can the NPD put together and maintain the elaborate and intricate NPD syndrome of attributes (e.g., using others for self-aggrandisement, attractive social mask, secrecy, evasion, lying, scapegoating, etc.) without conscious effort.

Psychologists say that, in their quiet moments, NPDs know that they are not really as grandiose as they pretend:

When NPDs cynically use others to "feed" their false self, they know it.

When they overreact to perceived criticisms, they know what the truth is.

When they lie to conceal their inadequacies, they have chosen to deceive.

When they scapegoat others, they do so with deliberation.

When they refuse to apologize, they know they are in the wrong.

All of which means that free will is fully engaged in this so-called "disorder."

In effect, the NPD is more than a mental sickness. Pathological narcissism is not some noxious virus or bacteria that overtakes a person. Whatever the early childhood experiences, free will is still operative here. Rather, NPD is a moral disorder, because it is immoral to lie and to use, exploit, blame, and hurt others.

More than immoral, NPD is, at its foundation, a spiritual blight. Since the false self of the narcissist is extremely grandiose, she excludes herself from the moral norms that govern "lesser" beings: "rules don’t apply to me." That makes NPDs their own gods. In so doing, they are in denial of the fundamentally flawed nature of all human beings.

The malignant narcissist is more than immoral, she is evil.

In his book, People of the Lie, Peck proposed to the psychological profession a new diagnostic category of the "evil personality disorder" (EPD) as a sub-type of NPD. As he put it, "The evil are ‘the people of the lie,’ deceiving others as they also build layer upon layer of self-deception." And when the narcissist intentionally hurts another, she has crossed the line from being an NPD to being an EPD. In Peck’s words, "evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies.". Except for atheists (who must be very grandiose because they claim to know a negative, i.e., that God does not exist),viall of us--the religious as well as agnostics--believe in the existence of some supreme moral being or force in the universe.

Recognizing that, most of us harken to these words of Descartes: "I have been so constituted as to be some kind of middle ground between God and nothing .

I am not the supreme being, I lack quite a few things.

Dionysius the Areopagite concluded that being self-centered is "inherently wrong" because we have "no right to be the centre of things" as only God is the rightful center of all things.

Not only is vanity and pride the first of the Seven Deadly Sins, I believe that narcissism is the root of all evil. Decrying the ills that he saw rampant in modern society--the relativization of all moral norms and the reduction of life to the immediate pursuit of material gain without regard to its general consequences--VaÇlav Havel observed that "Given its fatal incorrigibility, humanity will have to go through many more Rwandas and Chernobyls before it understands how unbelievably short-sighted a human being can be who has forgotten that he is not God."

It is the misdiagnosis of pathological narcissism as a "personality disorder" instead of a moral-spiritual condition which accounts for psychiatrists’ characterization of it as "one of the most . . . difficult-to-treat conditions in the lexicon of mental illness.

Dr. Maria Hsia Chang

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Successful psychopaths at work

If you suspect your boss is a psychopath, you may be onto something.

Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon of the University of Surrey compared personality traits of successful business managers and patients at Broadmoor Hospital, one of Britain's highest security psychiatric hospitals.

The researchers found that the business managers scored, on average, more highly on measures of histrionic, narcissistic and compulsive personality than samples of former and current patients. These personality traits are thought to reflect characteristics such as superficial charm, lack of empathy and perfectionism. All of which could be potentially useful in the cut-throat business world.

However, unlike the Broadmoor patients, the business managers scored lower on antisocial, borderline and paranoid personality traits, reflecting lower levels of aggression, impulsivity and mistrust. Exactly the sort of personality traits that are likely to cause problems with senior managers and the law.

The authors of the study suggest that the business managers may be examples of 'successful psychopaths' - "people with personality disorder patterns, but without the characteristic history of arrest and incarceration".

Mind Hacks

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How to Deal With a Narcissist

The first rule is: Give up on your fantasy that you have an authentic relationship with the narcissist. Sadly, the person you think you love/like never existed.

The second rule is: Don’t be a bloodbank for the narcissist.

The third rule is: Be emotionally detached.

The fourth rule is: If you must interact with her, challenge the narcissist’s false conceptions of herself by insisting on reality-based assessment. Doing so, however, is guaranteed to alienate you from the narcissist--which is a good thing because the narcissist is incapable of genuine friendship and love. In the last analysis, you are better off without the narcissist.

If, unfortunately, you must have her in your life because your survival depends on her, as in the case of a child needing the narcissistic mother’s care, the way to get along with her is to feed her fantasies by lavishing compliments on her, i.e., by letting yourself be her bloodbank.

Dr. Maria Hsia Chang

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The NPD Syndrome

In the following description of the NPD syndrome, I use the pronoun "she" to refer to the narcissist, for the sake of avoiding the cumbersome "he/she" and " his/her."

At the core of the NPD syndrome is the construction of a false self as a way to cope with the external world by compensating for the individual’s feelings of insecurity and uncertainty of identity.. Like its namesake, the mythic Narcissus who is in love with his reflection in water, the self that the narcissist loves is not her real self, but a false self that is grandiose, perfect, and superior. The particular basis of the grandiosity is what the narcissist loves herself for. That varies according to the individual, and may be physical beauty, intellect, talent, power, etc. As a consequence, psychologists divide narcissists into two types: the somatic and the cerebral. The former are those whose narcissism is focused on their bodies; the latter are those who have a grandiose conception that they have a superior intellect.

I would add a third type: the spiritual narcissist. These are those who ooze with false piety, having a false conception of themselves as supremely virtuous.

Regardless of the particular basis of grandiosity, the narcissist strives to maintain and protect that false self at all costs. In effect, the grandiose false self acts like the center of a wheel, to which are affixed the spokes. The latter are the syndromatic attributes of NPD, which function to protect and maintain the grandiose false self. The constellation of attributes is not accidental because there is a functional reason for the various attributes. This is the underlying logic that accounts for the syndrome.

Together with the APA’s DSM IV criteria, those "spokes" may constitute a particularly malignant form of narcissism.

They include the following attributes

Using people—even supposed loved ones—as tools of self-aggrandisement to affirm and maintain the false self. The narcissist is hollow inside and derives her sense-of-self from seeing her reflection in the eyes of others. The psychological literature calls this "mirroring": the narcissist mainly uses other people as a mirror to reflect her grandiose self-conception. Like a vampire who must feed on others’ blood in order to live, the narcissist feeds on other people’s love, approval, admiration, and compliments. Once the source is sucked dry, the narcissist no longer has use of that person and will abruptly and mercilessly cast him/her aside.

To lure people into her web, the successful narcissist puts on an attractive social mask. She can be charming, gracious, socially adept, even obsequious. She must also be a consummate actor, skilled at simulating the whole range of human emotions, especially those of love, compassion, and kindness. The more successful she is at simulation, the greater her circle of friends and acquaintances who function as her primary and secondary feeding sources.

More than to lure people into her web, the narcissist’s charming social mask also conceals the false self from scrutiny. Concealment requires secrecy, evasion, dishonesty, and lying. In effect, the narcissist is a consummate pathological liar, i.e., she habitually lies, even about seemingly trivial, inconsequential matters.

Using other people as her "bloodbank" requires that the narcissist be a human emotional radar. The successful narcissist is psychologically astute and shrewd so that she can "size up" everyone she encounters for their potential to be her blood-donor.

Cynically using other people also requires that the narcissist be lacking in empathy. Do not be fooled by her simulations at empathy. A good experiment is for you to withhold your approval and compliments. You will discover that, overnight, the narcissist has lost her kindness and even simple civility.

The maintenance and protection of the false self also requires the narcissist to be constantly vigilant against being "attacked" by others. This is why the narcissist overreacts with rage and humiliation to any perceived criticism, no matter how minor or trivial the perceived criticism.

As the saying goes, "the best defense is offense." More than reacting with rage to criticisms, the narcissist attacks the critic. This is called scapegoating--projecting one’s own faults (what Carl Jung called our "shadow") onto another person, and blaming the other for the narcissist’s own inadequacies. The narcissist is very skilled at this.

The false self must be impervious, which requires the narcissist to resist self-examination and introspection. Doing so would open the narcissist to reality-based assessment--a dangerous undertaking because the false self is, by definition, unreal. As a consequence, instead of the insecurities of normal human beings, the narcissist exhibits an impassive and uncritical acceptance of herself.

The inability or unwillingness to be introspective, in turn, results in cognitive dissonance, cognitive gaps, and non sequiturs. Trying to engage a narcissist in serious dialogue--especially about herself or her beliefs and values--can be a disconcerting experience because nothing she says makes sense.

Since the false self is superior and grandiose, it needs no one. The narcissist dreads becoming dependent on others, but asserts and clings to an exaggerated independence. Since her love of herself is all-consuming, she is incapable of love and emotional commitments to other people. This is why the narcissist reacts to sincere declarations of love (verbal or in the form of behavior, such as significant gifts) by emotionally distancing herself and, in some cases, outright abandonment--because she is unable to reciprocate that commitment..

In effect, the narcissist’s grandiose self-conception makes her a god unto herself. Gods are not subject to the morality that governs lesser beings--"rules don’t apply to me." The narcissist refuses to subscribe to society’s moral rules and ethical standards. Instead, morality is subjective: "Nobody can judge me." One NPD I know exhibited this trait when she blithely received the Holy Eucharist (believed by Catholics to be the actual body of Christ) in Mass--although she is not Catholic. Another NPD, a former student of mine, responded with rage to my critique of his essay-exam, which garnered a respectable "B" grade, insisting that he was not subject to the grammatical rules of the English language.

Lacking an abstract universal system of moral codes--and being cognitively impaired--the narcissist lives in a world of feelings and sensations: "What’s good is that which makes me feel good." Narcissists tend to wallow in cheap "feel good" sentiments. • Since the false self is grandiose and perfect, relationship problems are never the fault of the narcissist. She blames everyone, but herself. This also means that narcissists do not ever apologize or admit that they are wrong or at fault. Instead, they will always subtly, if not blatantly, turn things around to blame you.

All of this means that narcissists do not, as a rule, seek therapy. In the few cases that do, it is because their problems have become so serious that they cannot be ignored (e.g., divorce, drug abuse, job loss, imprisonment). Even then, the narcissist resists therapy and is likely to blame the therapist (scapegoating!) and flee from treatment.

Dr. Maria Hsia Chang

Monday, February 12, 2007

Compassion for the Narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder has become synonymous with pejorative vilifying stereotypes that paint everyone diagnosed with it along with others with varying degrees of narcissism as monstrous people without worth. Rarely, in life, is the sum total of any human being with a personality disorder or not that simple or that black and white.

Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) is isolating, disenfranchising, painful, and formidable for those diagnosed with it and often those who know them. Distinctions need to be made between those who have NPD because not each and every person with NPD is the same. Even with similar core issues the way in which one’s individual narcissism manifests itself in his or her relationships varies.

There is an irrefutable truth that many who have NPD are abusive. However, not all with NPD are abusive. Amongst those with NPD who are abusive the form and severity that their abuse takes will vary from individual to individual.

Chief among the traits that define Narcissistic Personality Disorder are what is described as a lack of empathy and a lack of compassion – not to be confused with the lack of conscience seen in the most severe form of narcissism within NPD – The Malignant Narcissism Syndrome (Kernberg 1992 – according to “The Handbook of Personality Disorders – Theory and Practice,” edited by Jeffery J. Magnavita - Pg 100) and that is most notably a feature in those diagnosed as having a psychopathic personality known as Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). NPD and APD are not one in the same.

According to Wikipedia “Otto Kernberg described malignant narcissism as a syndrome characterized by a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-syntonic aggression. Some also may find an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and a sense of importance (grandiosity). … Malignant narcissism is considered part of the spectrum of pathological narcissism, which ranges from the Cleckley's antisocial character (today's psychopath) at the high end of severity, to malignant narcissism, to NPD at the low end.”

Most with NPD struggle to understand the experience of others because they are too involved in their own inner experience. An inner experience that is then projected out onto others in ways that leave others being treated as mere extensions of the narcissist who needs to have reflected back his or her own image of self. When this image of self is reflected back in ways that enhance how the narcissist feels about him/herself, all is well. This, for the narcissist is the experience of the gratification of narcissistic supply.

The person with NPD cannot really see others separately from the way he/she experiences the world from his or her point of view only. Most everything is experienced as being about them, some extension of them, or as thwarting their wants and/or needs

Those with NPD are blinded to the external unfolding experience of others in relation to them. They are lacking in self-awareness, often, of how others experience them. Narcissists live their lives from the inside and do not have a very flexible or evident insight into what the difference is between their image of themselves versus who they really are (as seen and defined by others) and who they hold themselves out to be.

Narcissists, often, tremendously lack insight and awareness into themselves because they cannot see past this created, exaggerated and aggrandized image of self that is incongruent with who they really are and how others experience them. Trying to provide feedback to those with NPD about their actions, or behaviour and so forth can be very frustrating because it is too painful for the narcissist to look behind the reflection of aggrandized self that they must have mirrored back to them in order to psychologically survive. The narcissist’s grandiosity is a defence against profound psychological pain.

The narcissist’s self-focus, along with his or her constant taking as they reel in this much-needed supply that buffs up and sustains their (albeit illusionary) image of grandiose and special self, interferes in this or her ability to share in the mutuality and/or reciprocity needed for healthier relating.

Those with NPD, while often described as stuck on themselves, or as full of themselves, truly are lost to themselves. Unlike those with BPD who have no sense of an actual known self and whose core wound of abandonment results in a lost self – those with NPD experience an emotional arrest at an earlier stage of early childhood development than do those with BPD (Masterson) that results in a image of a self that is held to perfection in a way that excludes the reality of the narcissist’s pain. Anything that contradicts the image of perfection threatens his or her psychological survival and is much too painful and threatening to even acknowledge.

Being on the other side of a narcissist can be very painful and frustrating. Relationships with most with NPD are usually not very satisfying or rewarding, emotionally, for those who are non-personality disordered.

Most people, who have been in, or are in, a relationship with someone with NPD feel very lonely and often invisible. Those who have NPD are not emotionally available and this is one of the most difficult things to come to terms with for others.

It is important to have compassion for those who have NPD. They are not all monsters, nor do they all behave in monstrous ways. If you are in tremendous emotional pain you may need to find ways to emotionally detach whether you stay in the relationship or not.

With healthy emotional detachment, and even when we have to remove ourselves from the abuse of a narcissist, how can we say that we are any different from a narcissist if we do not have empathy and compassion for those diagnosed with NPD?

How can we criticize what those with NPD are not able to share or do, if we ourselves aren’t prepared to share what we are actually capable of?

Having compassion for a narcissist doesn't mean, however, sadly enough in many cases, that we can stay connected to the narcissist or actively share that compassion with the person with NPD. The best we can do is to recognize that not all things that those with NPD do, are done with malice. Those in relationships with those with NPD and/or who have been abused by someone with NPD need to take care of themselves. Having compassion for the narcissist doesn't mean staying in the relationship.

Compassion, like forgiveness, are gifts that you truly give to yourself as much as to anyone with NPD. Actively being aware of both will help you heal and will set you free from any and all painful entanglement with someone with NPD.

A.J. Mahari