Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Female Narcissist by Irene Matiatos - Part 1

Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones. - Charles Caleb Colton

Abusive behavior in men or women can be a function of many underlying issues. Personality disorders or their milder counterparts (i.e., "traits" or "features") are one underlying etiology. This article tries to help the reader understand the mindset of the female with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or with narcissistic features.

Like her narcissistic male counterpart, this lady harbors deeply held and undisputed irrational underlying beliefs that affect her feelings and behavior. Most of these beliefs are never questioned and are only dimly realized, if they are realized at all. While we all harbor irrational beliefs, those with personality disorders harbor belief systems that are deeply embedded and intertwined.

A real charmer


Dana is an extremely pretty 23-year old young lady. A delight on the surface, she has an uncanny knack of presenting herself extremely well to the target audience she wants to impress. She has a corresponding almost magical ability to make people feel verrrry good.She can WOW you! You'll be gushing (or panting if you' re a guy), and there just isn't anything you wouldn't do to please her. She will continue to reward your good behavior as long as she needs you. After all, it is very hard work to be "on" so much of the time.

If she's accomplished her mission and you are no longer useful, she spends less and less energy being perfectly charming and engaging. In most cases Dana has no real desire to be disrespectful, but as she "relaxes," becoming more "herself," she becomes quiet or mildly disrespectful.

A typical narcissist

The problem is that the only person Dana cares about is Dana. You are no more than the object who provides her with whatever it is she wants and needs: love, admiration, money, encouragement, support, etc. While she pretends to care, and indeed wants to care, the reality is that she doesn't. Her world starts and stops with herself. She hides that fact pretty well from most people; especially those who are consistently meaningful to her (i.e., parents, husband, siblings, boss, etc.). Most of these individuals would be shocked to hear this, and in fact would think you' re crazy!

Dana is typical as pretty female narcissists go. She relies on her beauty and her charm. She feels good about herself as long as she "has it over" anybody she considers "the competition."

Few real friends

Parents are parents and too often love unconditionally, but friends and acquaintances don't. As a result, while new people Dana meets like her, the more they got to know her, the less interested they are in her company. Except, of course, for the young men, most of whom vie for her attention.

Other than a childhood best friend with virtually non-existent self esteem, there are no friends. There are acquaintances and those who share her environment as well as the many men who surrounded her — all of whom she refers to as "friends," but there really are no friends.

She explains this deficit by rationalizing that her peers disappoint her in one way or another. This one uses drugs, that one you can't trust, the other one is jealous of her, etc. There is virtually no recognition that the reason people who are not closely related to her, or have no sexual interest in her, do not like her, given how she treats them!

I' m the best!

Dana is not content unless she feels she has it over her peers, especially female peers. She believes she has the prettiest face, the nicest hair, and the best figure — which she flaunts with her form-fitting, sexy, and hip wardrobe. She is always well-dressed, even when lounging around. "Studied cool" describes her style. While giving the impression of having thrown together any old top and pair of jeans, the trained eye can discern the hours and hours spent trying the outfits on, making up to appear not made up, etc.

Every asset she has, she flaunts. One weekend, invited to spend it with some new friends at their family's home in a poor section of a neighboring town, she found reason to make a 30-mile detour to her parents' upscale, gorgeous home — to show it off — as though announcing her supremacy. Of course, she would never admit that's why she came home. Her reasons are always framed in wording that casts her in a positive light such as "It's my dad's birthday," or, "I have to pick up something important I forgot." Never an honest reason like, "I wanted to show off the house to intimidate them."

Jealousy

Jealousy is a huge issue. Her own envy is as cut off from her consciousness as Wisconsin is cut off from the Atlantic Ocean. While she has no clue regarding her pervasive jealousy, it is sadly evident to the sensitive observer.

One year Dana didn't get her cousin a birthday present. While Stephanie routinely bought Dana beautiful and expensive gifts, Dana couldn't say why she didn't get Stephanie anything. When pressed, annoyed, she provided a series of senseless answers.

"I made a deal with my friends that we were not to exchange gifts."

"Did you made that arrangement with Stephanie?"

"No, but I' m not getting any gifts. We' re going to lunch. I'll pay."

Not only did she not end up paying, Stephanie paid for both Dana, as well as for Dana's boyfriend!

The "problem" was that Stephanie, her peer, had gotten her life together. Also beautiful, she found her calling and was pursuing an advanced degree with straight A's — a feat Dana couldn't hope to accomplish. Stephanie also had a rich boyfriend who adored her. You get the picture. When asked point-blank if she was jealous of Stephanie, Dana replied too quickly and with an affected laugh, "Jealous of Stephanie? WHAT is there to be jealous about?"

The price she pays

Part of the price Dana pays to manipulate others is the exhaustion required to be "on" much of the time.When caught with her vigilant guard down, she is not nice: often impatient, short, arrogant and condescending, reflecting her near chronic bad mood. Shopkeepers, boyfriends who try too hard, and all the not-too-important people in her life who will put up with it, are the unwitting victims. This is subtle. For example, one day she walked into her compulsively-clean mother's house and saw a leaf on the sparkling floor by her feet. Instead of picking it up, she asked, "What's that?" Her mother, almost on cue, dropped what she was doing to pick up the leaf by her daughter's feet.

To be continued...

Dr Irene's Verbal Abuse

Friday, June 29, 2007

Narcissistic Disorders in Children and Adolescents


Narcissistic Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Diagnosis and Treatment

Phyllis Beren

ISBN-10: 0765701243
ISBN-13: 978-0765701244




Book Description

The therepeutic task, with these patients, necessitates a special form of attunement and a particular treatment stance that take into account the often hidden sensitivities and painful feelings that lie beneath the surface for both child and parent. An understanding of these narcissistic vulnerabilities better informs the treatment and helps to modulate the countertransference feelings that alomst always arise.


From the Publisher

It requires enormous patience and courage to tolerate the confusion, ambiguity, and chaos that arise in the treatment of children and adolescents with narcissistic disturbances. Their provocations and enactments, their omnipotent and grandiose fantasies, and their formidable defenses challenge the therapist, as does working with their parents, who may suffer from similar disturbances and may not always cooperate with the treatment. The purpose of this collection is to provide the professional with a deeper understanding of these problems. The clinical and theoretical wealth of this book will go a long way toward informing clinicians about recent advances that may help them deal better with the inevitable transference-countertransference crises that these treatments provoke.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Destroying the Lives of Others

Narcissists expect and demand that the ones nearest and dearest to them, tolerate, admire, love, and cater to their needs. They expect others to be at their immediate disposal. Their behavior is obnoxious, aloof and indifferent and they fully realize this. Narcissists test the mental limits of people's patience. Individuals in a relationship with a narcissist feel something is not “quite right,” and many seek answers to the unsettling experience of day to day contact with a narcissist.

Narcissistic individuals do not tend to be physically abusive although there are some out there that are. Their worst weapon is their mouth. With their mouth they spit verbal negations and dispense emotional abuse. Their vocal cords are their method of attempting to control others.

Narcissists do not have the emotional capacity to provide support or understanding to others. There are numerous defense mechanisms which narcissists use to confuse and unbalance those around them. Organization is unknown to narcissistic individuals and they avoid future plans if it concerns pleasing another for some reason not evident to them.

They do not want anyone thinking highly of them for several reasons. First, their sense of self as special, unique and deserving keeps them grounded at maintenance level in their relationships. Maintenance level is just enough, just in time to keep the folly of the relationship moving forward, but just enough and no more. To expend more energy on the relationship would cause others to feel some degree of predictability in the whole affair. Contributing to the happiness of the ones they already envy for having the ability to feel love is not a an activity in which narcissists wish to participate.

Second, if another thinks highly of the narcissist then there are expectations which that person has that the narcissist must fulfill. The narcissist, however, does not intend to fill anyone's expectations except that of his/her own.

Happiness, joy, and the effort to please others is not normally undertaken by the narcissist except in the beginning or potential ending of a relationship. At either of these points, the narcissist may be charming, helpful, pleasing, and amusing beyond imagination. But, this effort is only used to obtain a new narcissistic supply source or to win back the affection of an important source if abandonment appears eminent. At all other times, the narcissist believes his/her presence, is clearly and abundantly sufficient to maintain the loyalty, trust, affection and respect of those which the narcissist already considers his/her object. So, the narcissist will postpone, withhold or procrastinate the continuing efforts that are essential to maintaining any kind of meaningful relationship. A narcissistic person is unable to fake the emotion of love for another for a long period of time. This impairs the capacity for a committed relationship with a narcissist. Therefore, marital instability and promiscuity are prominent in those with NPD.

Narcissists can perform obligations in the global areas of their lives and with strangers quite well. But, with those individuals they have already captured, they find the expenditure of civil treatment taxing to their mental reserve and not really necessary. They routinely display to their captured objects their worst traits. These may include abuse of alcohol, sex, verbal negations or other behaviors that tend to keep people at a distance and not allow any close interpersonal strength to develop. This is evident in the narcissists relationships with their wives/husbands, girlfriends/boyfriends, children, brothers, and sisters.

Narcissists will never accept the blame for anything that happens in a relationship. They are quite ready to blame the other person involved. They expect to be the center of attention in a relationship and demand their every wish be fulfilled by their partner.

Don't expect the narcissist to get better with age. By the time they are old they have pushed everyone who has ever tried to care about them away. Their narcissistic characteristics also seem to increase after the death of parents or loss of others that have exerted some type of control over them.

A relationship with a narcissist can at times be fun and invigorating. After the relationship has come to an end, for the non-disordered, there maybe a feeling of let down or boredom. A relationship with a narcissist is like a roller coaster ride--there are extreme highs and lows. Be thankful the relationship has ended. The best advice for anyone who is presently involved with a narcissist is to RUN! The relationship won't get better. Also, it's better to get out before the narcissist snatches away all your self-esteem. Remember, their worst weapon is their mouth.

http://tinyurl.com/3chfvs

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What is the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath?

The first question victims of love fraud ask concerns themselves and is generally something like, “Why is this so hard for me mentally?” The second question concerns the perpetrator, “What is wrong with him/her?” Many seek answers to these questions on the internet and in the popular psychology literature. A person looking for answers in these sources is just as likely to read about narcissism as he/she is to read about sociopathy. Thus the confusion between narcissism and sociopathy begins.

When trying to understand the difference (if any) between narcissists and sociopaths, it is important to understand why we have psychiatric diagnoses in the first place. We have diagnostic categories because people go to professionals seeking help for their emotional/psychological issues. The problem is that people who are grandiose, exploit others, lack empathy, and apparently have no conscience are unlikely to seek mental health treatment. Therefore, people with these symptoms are poorly understood. This is also the basic reason why this set of symptoms has been labeled both narcissism and sociopathy.

To further the confusion for victims of love fraud, a psychologist, Millon, has described the amorous narcissist. Such people are charming, articulate, charismatic and emotionally exploitative of their lovers. The amorous narcissist, like Don Juan, seeks conquest in his relationships. A Lovefraud reader commenting on another post has provided the best example of an amorous narcissist I have seen, yet she (correctly) calls him a sociopath:

I was completely taken in by a sociopath over a year ago. I had never met anyone who was so attentive, charming, complimentary, good looking… oh, the list goes on. I felt I had not only met Mr. Right, but Mr. Perfect. This was a very cultured and well educated man. Unlike the stereotypical sociopath, he holds a good job -can even be considered a “captain of industry”. We live in different cities, so it was even easier for him to fool me. He would call me 2-3 times a day - send text messages, write e-mails. I wondered sometimes how he got the time to do all this. But it was almost impossible for ME to get him on the phone. He said he was at a meeting, at a business dinner etc.

He also seemed to not have many good friends. But all the people he mentioned were women - some one who went to the symphony with him - and had for a long time, someone who was a biking partner etc. He said his friendships with these people were built around common interests, which I thought was fair enough.

After 6 months and visits back and forth, his romantic speil was not as effusive, which I thought normal. But I also began noticing a lot of inconsistencies and lies. I caught him out on a lie about where he was - he said he was in one city on work and it turned out that he was in another on vacation - and I knew it had to be with another woman! Anyway, i expressed my distrust and he accused me of being suspicious for no reason. He said I had a mental illness and should have my head examined. I got so blisteringly angry when he said this that I told him that I would prove to him that my suspicions were warranted. I embarked on a detective spree and uncovered 4 women who he was courting the same way. One was the official girlfriend in the city where he lived. The others were mistress-type girlfriends. I spoke with all of them. And then I presented him with the evidence. He did not have much to say other than that he had “done everything for me, shown me a good time, bought me gifts…” and did not know why I was upset. I know now that there are others. It is like he needs to get all the women he meets to fall in love with him.

Generally speaking, the term narcissist is less pejorative than the term sociopath. The reason for this is that some professionals view the behavior of narcissists as stemming from “low self esteem.” Thus, people feel sorry for narcissists, “He/she wouldn’t do that if he/she didn’t have such low self esteem.” Many sociopaths also recognize that narcissists are more highly regarded than are sociopaths, and so state, “I’m not a sociopath, I’m just a narcissist!”

A close friend of mine who has been on a quest for answers about the man who perpetrated love fraud against her came to the legitimate conclusion that the perpetrator is a narcissist. We have had many discussions about her situation. What bothered me about her description of this man as a narcissist was that it seemed to be part of an ongoing effort not to accept his inherently evil nature. If perpetrators are only trying to bolster their low self esteem, they can still be “good.” It may also be that it is easier to accept being victimized if the perpetrator is a narcissist. The reality that we have spent years of our lives loving an evil sociopath is truly difficult to accept.

So what is the difference between a narcissist and a sociopath? Generally speaking narcissists are less impulsive and higher functioning than are sociopaths. Both narcissists and sociopaths have a severe disorder of the Inner Triangle. Both are not capable of love, and have problems with moral reasoning. In fact, many experts say that a condition called “pathological narcissism” is the core problem that results in sociopathy/psychopathy. In conclusion then, the answer to our question is, “To a victim of love fraud, there is no difference between a narcissist and a sociopath.”

Liane J. Leedom. M.D., is a psychiatrist and author of Just Like His Father?, a book about parenting kids who have genetic risk for antisocial behavior, addiction and ADHD. She is also the author of justlikehisfather.com and parentingtheatriskchild.com. Dr. Leedom trained at USC, UCLA and Yale. The best training in psychiatry had not prepared her for her encounter with a sociopath who is the father of her son. For three years she pored through masses of scientific literature to gain the tools she needed to care for her son. “Although the government has spent millions uncovering the genetic and environmental factors involved in antisocial behavior, addiction and ADHD,” Dr. Leedom says, “the findings of this work are not available to the public.” She believes all parents have a right to the information that will help them protect and enjoy their at-risk children. Contact: drleedom@lovefraud.com.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality


Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality

by Elsa Ronningstam

ISBN: 0195148738
ISBN-13: 9780195148732


From the Publisher

"Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality is the first integrated clinical and empirical guide to assist clinicians in their work with narcissistic patients. While many of us associate arrogance, haughtiness, vanity, selfishness, and even criminal behavior with narcissism, according to clinicians who study personality there are also many productive narcissistic people whose success in life is partially due to their ability to articulate a vision and lead others to follow." Now, Elsa Ronningstam presents a balanced, comprehensive, and up-to-date review of our understanding of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). She insightfully addresses the complicated matter of the etiology of NPD and provides practical criteria for its diagnosis. She broadens the reader's understanding of narcissism and explains the ways in which it ranges from personality trait, which can be productive, to full-blown disorder, which can be highly destructive. Through fascinating case vignettes, Ronningstam shows us the inner life of narcissistic people, revealing their inner tug of war between self-confidence and arrogance on the one hand and painful shame and insecurity on the other.


Doody Review Services

Reviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., BCETS, CATSM, CCRA (Abbott Laboratories)

Description: This book provides a needed exploration into a personality disorder where there has been a paucity of research as well as misinterpretations. The author separates pathology from functionality:in other words, from what is a productive personality trait to a full-blown disorder. This delineation is fascinating and highly informative.

Purpose: The purpose is to bridge the gaps between the psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychiatric studies and present a cohesive and integrated clinical and empirical guideline to assist clinicians in their work with narcissistic patients. The breakdown of healthy and pathological narcissism allows clinicians to have the needed differentiation to implement in their practice. The book exceeds objectives and is much needed.

Audience: Clearly, seasoned and young clinicians will benefit as well as academics and researchers. This would make for a good seminar course or as an add-on to graduate training. The author is well-versed and a leading authority in narcissism.

Features: As expected, a historical perspective of the disorder is introduced and supported by appropriate references. The discussion of "normal" narcissism in chapter 2 is intriguing and focuses on empathy, self-reference, control, power, etc. The chapter on differentiating pathological narcissism is a must-read for every clinician. I liked how the case vignettes help elaborate and provide a unique perspective on the material. The book is well written and solidly examines the material.

Assessment: Personality disorders, while always discussed and sometimes deferred on Axis II, do exist. Narcissistic personality finally is receiving the attention it deserves with this book. Readers should always be ready to expand their knowledge base with worthwhile information and this book will quite comfortably satisfy that need.

Monday, June 25, 2007

We need ... to hold narcissists accountable ...

...for the damage they do.

We need better laws to hold narcissists accountable for the damage they do. Their MO allows them to get away with murder their whole lives, time and again.

For one thing, people have a right to their good name. We need laws against slander and calumny that have real teeth in them. That's the proverbial "fate worse than death," and yet the law holds it as no crime. We especially need strong laws when slander or calumny affects the status of employment. And when it has driven the victim to the bottom of Skid Row and/or suicide, the narcissist should go to jail. It shouldn't be so hard to prove. As in class-action cases, just allow proof by establishing a pattern. For, every narcissist has a trail of the destroyed in his or her wake.

We also need decent laws to protect people from emotional abuse. It ain't nothing. Indeed, anyone whose been abused both physically and emotionally says the emotional abuse was far worse. Rape is so heinous precisely because it's both physical and emotional abuse by somebody "tearing you down off that pedestal." Doing it some way other than sexually shouldn't make it okay.

Especially the emotional abuse of children. That should be jail time.

Narcissists should get sued for the psychological injuries they inflict. Maybe fear of that would help them restrain their predatory urges.

I do realize that saying we need strong laws is a lot easier than figuring out how to write them so that false accusations don't fly. But the difficulty in framing such laws is no excuse to just act like it ain't happening.

Countless innocent lives are ruined by serial slanderers/abusers who get away with taking people's lives from them, one after another after another, just because hurting others makes them feel good. These are human lives that go up in smoke. But the law calls no foul. So, the takers of those lives never have to pay for what they did. That isn't "liberty and justice for all."

Kathleen Krajco

.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It’s all about me


Is our generation too self-absorbed?

By Sarah Abbott
South Charleston High School

Narcissism means having a big ego and believing that you’re more important than the people around you. It’s something that some psychologists believe is plaguing this generation.

The problem, they say, is that there is a big difference between having good self-esteem and being self-centered.

“Someone who has high self-esteem has confidence in individualistic areas but also tends to value good relationships with other people. Someone who’s narcissistic is missing that piece about other people and relationships,” said San Diego State psychology professor and “Generation Me” author Jean Twenge in a March U.S. News & World Report interview.

Twenge said even the rise in volunteerism among teens may be more self-serving than we think.

“What do you mean?” you might ask indignantly. “I do community service, and so does everyone I know. Community service helps other people.”

But not surprisingly, community service is also required to graduate. Plus, it looks good on college applications and scholarship forms. See the connection?

For most students in middle and high school, it’s difficult to imagine a future without college. We’ve been fed statistics and reasons for needing higher education since we were little. And it’s true: To succeed in today’s world, we do need a college education — or at least some form of education beyond high school.

But are we too focused on our own needs and not enough on the big picture?

Something that teenagers may not know to associate with narcissism is a drop in close friendships or other relationships.

This is generally caused by narcissistic people’s excessive individualism. While individualism can be good to a point, too much can cause you to shut out your friends. It’s part of the image: You’re an individual, a nonconformist, and you think your thoughts are just so special that no one can understand how you really feel.

As a result, best friends don’t stay best friends and romantic relationships become more casual. Something I’ve noticed among my peers is that there are two extremes when it comes to relationships: Either you believe that you’re meant to be with a person and you stay with him or her for years, or you’re only together for the hookups.

Twenge backs this point up. “Narcissists favor short-term relationships,” she said. “This may help explain why hookups have become so popular.”

Another startling fact is our generation’s lofty sense of entitlement. According to psychologytoday.com, 31 percent of American teenagers believe they’ll be famous one day — that’s nearly one-third of all the teenagers in the United States.

With the extreme celebrity exposure in our society today, it’s no surprise that we want to be famous — but believing that we should be is a different matter. If each of us believes we’re better than the average person, that’s narcissism.

Problems with such an attitude are already starting to be seen. When you turn on a show like “Dr. Phil,” many times the guests he’s helping are young adults who are psychologically incapable of taking care of themselves because they believe they deserve to have an easy, rich life. They can’t function properly; they can’t hold a job.

As a teenager in what’s being called “Generation Me,” I don’t know whether I’m narcissistic. Maybe I am at times. Something I’ve realized, and that other people close to my age need to realize, is that everything isn’t all about me. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t like — like homework and chores.

Neglecting those things might turn into something more serious — like not doing our jobs right because we don’t want to work or because we’re unaccustomed to having to work. If everyone has that mindset, then who’s going to do everything for us? Will we teach our kids to be the same way until all the useful people in society are dead?

So the next time you have to do something you don’t really want to do, recognize that all of us run into that problem sometimes. Of course we’re all different, all unique, and we all deserve to have a good life. But like Thomas Jefferson said, we’re not just entitled to happiness. We’re entitled to the pursuit of happiness.

http://sundaygazettemail.com/section/News/FlipSide/2007061532?pt=10

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Narcissist knew right from wrong

By Hilary Russ
June 15, 2007

Martin Kelly, a forensic psychiatrist testifying for the prosecution at the murder trial of Thomas Toolan III told jurors in Nantucket Superior Court today that, in his opinion, Toolan did not have a mental disease or defect that made him either unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his alleged crime, or unable to stop himself from allegedly committing it.

Kelly based his opinion on an analysis of Toolan’s medical records and a nearly three-hour interview with Toolan, conducted in May at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility. Kelly also testified that in his opinion, Toolan did suffer from some degree of narcissistic, anti-social personality disorder and a substance abuse disorder.

Toolan is accused of the Oct. 2004 murder of Elizabeth Lochtefeld, his former girlfriend. Lochtefeld, 44, was found stabbed to death inside her Nantucket condominium.

Kelly said that medical records showed that Toolan had tried to commit suicide as a teenager by taking Valium with alcohol after a relationship ended.

Read more on this case @ http://capecod.planetdiscover.com/?keywords=Toolan&submit.x=0&submit.y=0&submit=Search

Friday, June 22, 2007

Meeting the devil...

From: Joanna M. Ashmun

It reminds me of something a wise old woman said: "I don't think the devil looks ugly and frightening. If he did, people wouldn't find him so attractive. The devil must be a handsome man." And the devil's sister is a pretty woman, as often as not.

The story

One bright, beautiful Sunday morning, everyone in tiny Anytown got up early and went to the local church. Before the service started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, and so on.

Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church.

Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate. Soon everyone had left the church except for an elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God's ultimate enemy was in his presence.

Now, this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, "Hey! Don't you know who I am?"

The man replied, "Yep, sure do."

Satan asked, "Aren't you afraid of me?"

"Nope, sure ain't," said the man.

Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, "Why aren't you afraid of me?"

The man calmly replied, "I've been married to your sister for 25 years."

Joanna M. Ashmun

Thursday, June 21, 2007

All About Me: Loving a Narcissist


All About Me: Loving a Narcissist

by Simon Crompton

ISBN-10: 0007247958
ISBN-13: 978-0007247950

To be published 2 July 2007


Synopsis

Why some men cannot love, why we still love them, and what we can do about it. What do you do if you are in love with an emotional vampire? Can he actually control his behaviour? Why does he behave the way he does? Since the ancient Greeks told the story of Narcissus, we have recognised that some people are simply self-obsessed. But there is now evidence to suggest that narcissism is shaping our times, and most of all, our relationships. Today narcissism is a quality that is being continually reinforced by our celebrity-obsessed, high achievement, sell-yourself culture. It is increasingly being recognised as a behavioural disorder (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), with clinics such as the Priory claiming 16% of their patients have this disorder. With real-life case studies and questionnaires, All About Me will reveal whether you are in love with a born narcissist. In this original and compelling book, Simon Crompton explores what this means for our relationships today, and is guaranteed to make you think about yourself and your partner in an entirely new light. Chapter breakdown: 1. It's all about me: What is a narcissist? 2. Look in the mirror: Are you a narcissist? 3. Enter Mr Darcy: Why everyone falls in love with narcissists 4. When Mr Right goes wrong: What it's like to suffer at the hands of a narcissist 5. A world without love: What creates a narcissist? 6. Generation me: Narcissism as a product of our culture 7. I'm a celebrity narcissist: Why narcissism helps people get places 8. Narcissism as a disease: Narcissistic Personality Disorder 9. The hollow men: What it's like to be a narcissist 10. Getting help Contacts and bibliography

The questionnaire

A narcissist, moi? Take our test to find out . . .

1 When you get up in the morning, the first thing you do is:
a) Turn on the radio
b) Look in the mirror
c) Elbow your partner and tell her to make you a cup of tea

2 When you’re having a shower/bath, the average time you spend in the bathroom is:
a) Ten minutes
b) 45 minutes
c) An hour and a half

3 You have some friends coming round for dinner. You’re worried about:
a) Whether everything will be ready in time
b) Whether you should wear Armani or Diesel jeans
c) Nothing – you’re cooking and everyone knows it will be fabulous

4 In ten years’ time I’ll be . . .
a) Older
b) Even more gorgeous
c) Prime Minister

5 When my girlfriend is upset I . . .
a) Cuddle her
b) Wonder if it’s all my fault
c) Go to the pub

6 My friends are . . .
a) A bunch of tossers, but I love them
b) The only people who really understand me
c) I like to think of them as disciples

7 The first present I ever gave to my girlfriend was:
a) A single rose
b) A CD of my favourite love songs
c) A trip to Venice, and damn the expense

8 The most recent present I gave to my girlfriend was:
a) A box of chocolates
b) A CD of all my favourite love songs
c) Er, I think it was that trip to Venice

9 A good night out is:
a) Footy at the pub and a chat about the best sitcom ever and the meaning of life. b) Showing off your pecs at the gym, then out clubbing
c) Piling down the motorway at 120mph with your friends screaming “Let me out”

10 The thing you look for in a restaurant is:
a) Food, tables, chairs
b) Flattering candlelight and lots of mirrors
c) Subservient, obsequious staff who will serve you before anyone else

The results

Mostly As Nothing to worry about. Your heart’s in the right place and your omissions are due to the fact that you like the simple things in life.

Mostly Bs You’re a soft narcissist, obsessed with your appearance and always looking for a good time. But it’s harmless self-indulgence; your vanity is only skin-deep and doesn’t tend to exclude others or make relationships difficult.

Mostly Cs You’re a narcissistic bastard, I’m afraid. You think you’re great and your life revolves around self-glorification. You’re a compulsive thrill-seeker who finds maintaining a proper relationship a trial. Time to find a therapist.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why are we in love with ourselves?


All About Me: Loving a Narcissist

by Simon Crompton

ISBN-10: 0007247958
ISBN-13: 978-0007247950

To be published 2 July 2007


Narcissism is on the rise, particularly among men. In the first of two extracts from his new book, Simon Crompton holds a mirror up to the nation.

This is the age of the narcissist. But narcissism is about more than the way you look. We all know about the David Beckhams, the Frank Lampards, who are happy to admit that they shave their body hair and pluck their eyebrows.

But they are narcissistic softies compared with the real narcissists; people who are so obsessed with projecting a glorious image of themselves on to the world that they tend to forget reality. Think of Ricky Gervais as David Brent (left), or Jeffrey Archer, maybe even Tony Blair.

Narcissism is a form of arrogance and emotional self-containment which, at its most extreme, is defined by psychiatrists as a form of personality disorder affecting one person in a hundred. Therapists report that narcissism is on the rise, perhaps a reflection of a society that prizes celebrity and pushing yourself forward above “fitting in”. This is the Big Brothersociety, defined not by Orwell’s vision but by a television programme showcasing egotists.

Therapy-literate Americans use the word narcissistic to explain acts of cruelty, selfishness and grandiosity. “My former boyfriend is a narcissist,” wrote one woman on an American website. “He’s an empty shell who must feed off others. He isn’t capable of love.”

Over here, we’re realising that narcissism is more than metrosexuality. Narcissists are people who are full of themselves and their big ideas but who need others to reflect their sense of rightful glory. They find empathy almost impossible, which means they’re trouble when it comes to relationships. And most seem to be men – possibly the combined result of their genetic make-up and the way they’re brought up.

Perhaps the best way to understand narcissism is to think of a two-year-old. For all their allure, babies and toddlers are unable to see the world from anyone else’s perspective apart from their own. Don’t get what you want? Then throw your rattle out of the pram. It’s quite natural and programmed into all humans. This self-protective narcissism is what Freud called primary narcissism. As we get older, through the influence of our parents and others, most of us lose that self-regarding streak to a greater or lesser extent. We learn that there are consequences to our actions, and that we must take into account the needs of others if we are to be happy.

But some of us don’t and develop personalities where we continue to act like self-centred toddlers. There’s a theory that it can happen because parents emotionally neglect their children. Failing to gain the love or attention of their parent, the child is ill-equipped to understand others and, feeling insecure, creates a self-protective shell of grandiosity around itself.

We all know how it feels. We all revert to primary narcissism when we’re feeling upset because it protects us from further hurt. Say you have had an argument with someone you love. You’ll make a scene and make demands on friends you wouldn’t normally make. You might even exaggerate a bit to boost your sense of power, and compensate for the vulnerability you feel. “I’m too good for her, and she knows it.” That’s reverting to a primary narcissistic state.

The thing about adults with strong narcissistic traits is that they are like that most of the time. Narcissists really do believe they’re King of the World, and that has some interesting – and sometimes positive – consequences for society. Narcissists have such drive to prove a point about themselves that they often acquire positions of real power or public prominence. They are the sort of people who, given the right circumstances, can doggedly work their way to where they want, regardless of what anyone else thinks. They have a glorious image of themselves to fulfil, and their lack of empathy can be a positive boon when it comes to making tough business or political decisions.

Here’s a list of some of the people who’ve shaped our lives, according to Michael Maccoby, author of The Productive Narcissist (Broadway Books, £14.15) partly as a result of their narcissistic traits: Bill Gates, Napoleon Bonaparte, Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Coco Chanel, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Vincent Van Gogh, Henry Ford.

A force for good then? Possibly when it comes to achieving big things, but not always where spreading harmony is concerned. The problem for narcissists is that, sooner or later, the trail of human damage they leave in their wake tends to catch up with them. So do the fantasies they weave to prop up their glorious images of themselves. Clinton had his Lewinsky. Blair had his Iraq. Napoleon had his Waterloo. The American political psychologist Betty Glad has pointed out that once rulers have established positions of power, their reality-testing capabilities diminish. Narcissistic fantasies that have been held in check until they gain power are likely to become guides for action once they have achieved it, and the inevitable result is downfall.

A long way from that toddler? Not really. We all exist on a spectrum of self-centredness, and we meet narcissists of greater or lesser degree every day. They might not be Napoleon, but they’re in our office, in the pub, even in our bed.

http://women.timesonline.co.uk

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Crazy bosses 2


Crazy Bosses

by Stanley Bing

ISBN: 0060731575
ISBN-13: 9780060731571





Read a Sample Chapter

Chapter One

The Crazy Corporation

There are two ways to look at it. Either (a) the business world is a sane place dominated by a couple of crazy people who ruin everything . . . or (b) the organizations we serve are basically crazy, and you need to be crazy to manage them. After years studying the subject, I'm weighing in on (b).

Too often for it to be a coincidence, or some ailment that afflicts only my friends, I have seen mildly neurotic—that is, normal—individuals transformed by the pressure of office and title into something new and not altogether better.

But don't take it from me. There's objective evidence as well. One need only look at some of the great, stupid mergers of recent years, or the sudden deconstruction of once-functional, marginally sane organizations by ceaseless reengineering, to see people driven crazy by their own business decisions. Think Time Warner being acquired by a bunch of bozos who thought they had all the answers. Think Madison Avenue during the years of ugly consolidation, when every creative little shop sold itself to one oligarch or another. To work for such companies was to go insane, and if you went insane enough you had just a chance to survive and prosper. Only the hopeful, the entirely rational, were doomed.

There are many ways that the world can drive a person crazy. Love can do it. War. And the constant destabilization of the working environment one must live within in order to earn money. This can peel an individual away, leaving nothing left but a small, smoking nugget deep in the limbic region.

I can tell youwhat it's like to have your working world turned upside down every couple of years. At about the time I started, the first wave of moronic dealmania hit, and you had to be able to hold on to your ass with both hands just to remember where to find your chair. On one day at the height of this nonsense, when I'd been at the game for just a couple of years, nineteen major mergers showed up on my newswire—nineteen in one day!

Consider the number of people involved. Imagine the paranoia. The despair. The betrayals both large and small. Was it, perhaps, an unusual day? No. The next day, when I once again entered the command "Search: Mergers" in the database (there was no Google then, you know), I came up with no fewer than thirty more pending mergers, acquisitions, friendly and unfriendly takeovers, and other changes of management. Two small chemical labs were bought by a manufacturer supplying specialty niche products for a wide variety of industries. Vicorp Specialty Restaurants, operators of the Hungry Hunter, Mountain Jack's, and other dinner establishments, merged with Rusty Pelican Restaurants, Inc. Physician's Reimbursement Services, offering health-care services mostly in third-party insurance claims, bought Professional Management Associates, a health-care consulting service mostly in Louisiana. And so on, and on.

Take, for example, the single, albeit long and distinguished, career of that great fomenter of imposed change and organizational chaos, Ron Perelman, who came to our attention in the late 1980s with a cornucopia of wealth creation for the very few. In the space of a few short years back in the day, he seized Pantry Pride in a significantly leveraged deal and sold most of its stores to pay for the deal; bought Revlon for $1.7 billion and sold off all but $300 million worth of its operations, making, as Forbes later wrote, "much more money breaking up the company than [founder Charles] Revson made by building it"; bought 15 percent of Trans World Corporation, which operated Hilton's hotel and food-service businesses; and raided Gillette, the razor people. I don't think it's unfair to say that through-out this amazing run that extends over more than twenty-five years, Perelman has been a model of the genre—creating tons of money for himself while sowing a shitstorm of chaos within the organizations he manages. (Today, one can see him at Michael's and Nobu, looking slender and hot, doing great, leaving a bevy of beautiful, angry women in his wake. What a dude!)

Deals, deals, and more deals. Huge sums of money rocketing across hardwood tables. Enormous wealth. Devastation of existing corporate governments. Exultation among those who manage money. Confusion and terror among those who just have to earn it.

Today, the pace of deals has slowed, since most industries have been consolidated down to just a few players. That's not to say that dementia is ever very far away. Right now, if you have a good idea about how the gigantic digital collective mind can be advanced in some way, it's possible that in a year, maybe less, the guys at Google will acquire your entire operation for billions of dollars. Do those deals make sense? The other day, Google, of which YouTube is now part, reported a 75 percent increase in quarterly profits and its stock rose thirty bucks.

In the new century, the big dudes wear sweaters and lab coats. But while styles may change, however, the crazy core remains the same. Some of the great carriers of mass insanity remain with us for decades. Today, a whole bunch of formerly crazy bosses have turned into major philanthropists—definitely a trend right now, as big, in its own way, as Excellence was in the last century. There's a long history of this kind of thing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Crazy bosses 1

Crazy bosses are nearly impossible to work for.

Fear not, they can be dealt with, says Stanley Bing, pseudonym of Gil Schwartz, CBS' head of public relations.

And just how does he know? Because he not only writes about them, he's one of them.

His first edition of "Crazy Bosses" was in 1992. Since then, he's learned more about out-of-control authority figures and how to deal with them. He says bosses today are different animals, thanks to a global, uber-competitive economy.

"The most spectacular fusion of pathologies has only been accomplished fairly recently -- guys who combine all the sickness of prior centuries into a tasty and unprecedented package," he writes.

Bing is not immune. "I have succeeded," he writes, "in growing my level of insanity dramatically, as I've climbed my own personal career ladder."

Five boss types he spotlights:

Bully. Driven by rage, manifested by frequent mood swings, manipulation and aggression. Most difficult to manage. "Management by terror has been a time-honored technique because it works."

Paranoid. Motivated by fear, always on the verge of hysteria, highly mistrustful of others. "You can be instrumental in driving him from a low boil to volcanic heights of irrationality."

Narcissist. Incapable of viewing others as real people with real needs. Short attention span. "Just because the guy is a preening rooster, don't get lulled into the idea that he's benign."

Wimp. Driven by anxiety, timid, impressed by fads, takes credit for others' work. "Central to the wimp's pathology . . . is the neurotic desire to be liked by everybody."

Disaster Hunter. Desire and lust are key motivators, doesn't listen, vicious when thwarted, workaholic. "There are few treatments for workaholics, because society doesn't yet see a need for one."

There is hope, if you pay close attention to your boss's actions and react accordingly. For example, the bully is driven by rage, the narcissist by emptiness. Avoiding the bully is smart, but for the narcissist, it's better to stay visible and bring on compliments.

It's important to remember, Bing says, that most out-of-control bosses eventually self-destruct. By the time bosses become Disaster Hunters, they are "heedlessly hurtling toward something inevitable."

By LINDA M. CASTELLITTO
Gannett News Service

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Moore said he toyed with investigators

Convicted killer explains why he recanted confession in disappearance of Rachel Cooke.

By Chuck Lindell
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, June 16, 2007

The last time Michael Keith Moore surfaced in public, he was expected to admit to kidnapping and killing Rachel Cooke, whose 2002 disappearance still haunts her family and Williamson County.

But Moore, serving life sentences for a 2003 murder, pleaded not guilty in November in the Cooke case — reneging on a deal with prosecutors and dragging the Cooke family through another round of bitter disappointment.

Now Moore, in his first prison interview since that surprise plea, said he was telling the truth when he pleaded not guilty. He claims he duped investigators because he was getting special treatment in prison, including extra visits with his ex-wife and having prison infractions wiped off his record, as long as he cooperated.

Investigators, calling Moore a born manipulator, aren't buying his story.

Cooke's father isn't sure what to think.

"It's kind of hard to tell with this guy. He's probably a compulsive liar. He's a predator, and that's part of the way he goes after people is to lie," Robert Cooke said. "He's definitely a suspect, and they have to look closely at him. But based on his history, how much of what he says can you believe?

"I'm hoping somehow we can piece all this together. Either get more evidence on him, or else omit him," Robert Cooke said.

Shortly after his not guilty plea, Moore scheduled — then canceled — interviews with several TV and newspaper reporters. The American-Statesman published a profile of Moore in December that characterized him as a narcissist who craves attention and who believes his intelligence allows him to toy with, and outwit, investigators.

Moore, who has spent most of his adult life in prison, took exception to that article in a January letter to the newspaper, but fell silent when invited to give his version of events.

See remainder of article @ http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/06/16/16moore.html


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Narcissism is alive and well.

A topic of much clinical interest back in the '80s, it has experienced a resurgence with the advent of Gen Y'ers (the cohort born between 1979 and 1994).

My colleagues on college campuses are noticing a sense of entitlement in students that appears to ignore traditional climbtheladder approaches to success. They want what they want, and they want it now. They have high expectations of themselves and others, are both highperformance and high-maintenance.

Brought up in the most childcentered generation ever, they need constant feedback and attention and are upset when they don't receive it. They are 70 million strong and already making an impact on their postmodern world. They place a much higher value on self-fulfillment after 9/11 because "life is short."

These are stereotypes of course and do not characterize everyone in this generation. However, the message of looking out for oneself continues to be promoted by our consumer culture and political rhetoric which hails the United States as the greatest nation and greatest people on earth.

Poet Tony Hoagland often explores the subject of narcissism in his work. He believes that "American culture encourages selfinvolvement to a degree that makes it difficult for us to pay attention to anything but ourselves."

Where is this leading? When there is a pathological focus on self, there's not much room for healthy relationship to others. Per psychiatrist James Masterson, "Normal narcissism is vital for satisfaction and survival; it is the capacity to identify what you need and want," but the "deeply narcissistic person feels incomplete and uses other people to feel whole," according to psychiatrist Gerald Adler.

Narcissism is never completely fed- it requires continual admiration and support from others. When not attended to, narcissistic needs progress into depression, rage and deep feelings of inadequacy. Whoever is in range is in danger of being attacked, and marriage can bring out all the emotional vulnerabilities of the narcissist.

Most of us do not suffer from pathological narcissism, thankfully. However, we are all somewhere on that narcissistic continuum, from extreme selfsacrifice (also pathological) to extreme self-indulgence.

Narcissism can show itself in a variety of forms: perfectionism, wrong priorities, disregard for the opinions of others, to name a few. We are all familiar with attentionseekers, but how many of us would recognize the narcissism of someone who appears to do everything well and strives for perfection or who is unable to accept criticism? What we do recognize is that they are not pleasant to be around and, in fact, cause us to feel our own inadequacies more deeply. When I asked a husband whose wife was divorcing him what her chief complaint about him was, he replied that "I'm always right."

Wrong priorities are another indicator of a kind of narcissism. A client spends most of her time redecorating her house and is unable to entertain unless everything is perfectly in order. Her priorities include having the best food and wine rather than personal interaction. The most offhand comment regarding the way her home is kept, her outfit or even her cat, can be interpreted as critical, and she takes care to distance herself from the offender. She is unable to get together with others unless her closet has been organized, her bills paid and other, crucial- to her- homemaking tasks have been accomplished. Thus, family and friends take a back seat to maintaining her preferred lifestyle. It probably won't surprise you to learn that she often complains of loneliness.

We are a lonely society these days. We strive for the best of everything, but we are starved for connection. There is an inherent narcissism present in all of us, and we need to be aware of how it operates in our relationships. Self-esteem can easily become self-aggrandizement.

Many parenting experts are now questioning the emphasis placed on developing self-esteem in children, noting an increase in selfishness and lack of realistic self-appraisal in the current "me generation."

As always, moderation is a good thing. Too much narcissism can drive others away; too little can impact our feelings of selfworth and healthy adjustment to life stress. If you're worried about having too much, I saw a T-shirt slogan that may help: "You Aren't a Narcissist If You Really Are Better Than Everyone Else."

By Deborah BarbeaskDrDB@yahoo.com
Deborah Barber, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in individual adult and couples therapy, with a private practice in Oak Park. For more information, call (818) 512-7923.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bad Reasons

There are also some bad reasons for sticking with a narcissist. Maybe he's rich and she likes the lifestyle. There are mothers who, to keep their trophy mate, selfishly betray their children to abuse by him. More of them should go to jail for "failure to protect."

Then there is the woman who sticks with a narcissist under the illusion that she can win his stupid game. Let's call her the Game Player.

This is how the game starts: She naturally reacts to the narcissist's Wild Act by trying to put the brakes on him. She does this by drawing two red lines: one at adultery and one at physically beating her or the children. Her abuser comes to a screeching halt at them both. Oooh, power. She gets this power rush because she thinks she is controlling him. She likes it. It is a pain killer for her battered ego. She wants more, because she has a score to settle. So, there's something in it for her too. She tries to beat this control freak at his own game.

To justify playing the game for her own ego gratification, she doesn't dare know that she has a serious problem. No Problem becomes her middle name. So she doesn't dare be aware that his behavior is downright bizarre. Then she needn't reveal to her parents, siblings, and friends that her husband is cracked. For, they would be abhorred at what goes on privately in that house and think she was a bad mother for not getting her kids out of there. They would not let her unsee the psychological scars he leaves on them.

The game's the thing. She doesn't take it seriously. He will not say he loves the children, will not show any affection for them, will not take any interest in them, and will not pay any attention (except negative attention) to them at all. Unless he is the type of narcissist who lives vicariously through a child he makes a tennis star of, he treats his children as though they don't exist. In any case, they never achieve the status of persons with him. If they try to hijack his attention, he lashes out at them viciously for it.

Yet she expects them to grow up normal! She will even say, "Must I leave him? I want my children to grow up in a home with two parents!"

Well, lady, they are not now living in a home with two parents.

Her two red lines discourage him from doing anything that would leave evidence that could be discovered by the outside world. She rationalizes them as fulfilling her responsibility.

That's absurd. Her red lines only ensure that what a monster he is will never be discovered by the outside world.

So, he gets to psychologically abuse everyone to his heart's content. Narcissists prefer this more deeply wounding kind of abuse anyway. It destroys self esteem more effectively than physical abuse. They usually are tempted to physical violence only when frustrated in their attempts to land moral blows...and when throwing a terror tantrum just to scare anybody standing up to them. So a narcissist is quite content in a crucible with a game player.

The poor kids have to take it, but Mother can play. And so she and her narcissistic mate manipulate each other like wrestlers locked in mortal combat for the rest of their lives. They hold another round of the same fight every day. He keeps pushing her button to start it. He does it in a Drive By. Then he leaves her to stew and to imagine himself the victim. She plays right into his hands by punishing him with the silent treatment, never learning why it doesn't make her feel like the winner.

Everything is a power play. Like a narcissist, the more she loses, the more determined to win she gets. She never learns that one must be twisted to beat the twisted in the twisted game they play. No wonder she becomes narcissistic herself (though she does not suffer from NPD). No wonder she fails her kids.

If she asked the adult child of a narcissist for advice, he would urge her to get her children away from her husband. Not only are one or more them likely to suffer from NPD, but those who grow up normal will grow up sorely lacking in self esteem and plagued by self doubt. Not something any responsible parent allows to happen to her children.

So, there are some of the reasons why intelligent, informed people ask, "Must I leave him?" Some of these reasons are quite understandable, and some are deplorable.


Kathleen Krajco

.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Now We Are Six"

If you had a narcissist for a parent, you lived in a world governed by whim enforced without mercy.

Narcissists have normal, even superior, intellectual development while remaining emotionally and morally immature. Dealing with them can give you the sense of trying to have a reasonable discussion with a very clever six-year-old -- this is an age when normal children are grandiose and exhibitionistic, when they are very resistant to taking the blame for their own misbehavior, when they understand what the rules are (e.g., that lying, cheating, and stealing are prohibited) but are still trying to wriggle out of accepting those rules for themselves. This is the year, by the way, when children were traditionally thought to reach the age of reason and when first communions (and first confessions) were made.

Having a narcissist for a mother is a lot like living under the supervision of a six-year-old. Narcissists are always pretending, and with a narcissistic mother it's a lot like, "Let's play house. I'll pretend to be the mother and you pretend to be the baby," though, as the baby, you'll be expected to act like a doll (keep smiling, no matter what) and you'll be treated like a doll -- as an inanimate object, as a toy to be manipulated, dressed and undressed, walked around and have words put in your mouth; something that can be broken but not hurt, something that will be dropped and forgotten when when something more interesting comes along. With narcissists, there's also usually a fair element of "playing doctor," as well -- of childish sexual curiosity that may find expression in "seductive" behavior towards the child, such as inappropriate touching of the genitals, or it can also come out as "hypochondriacal" worries about the child's health and/or being most interested and attentive when the child is ill (thus teaching the child that the way to get Mother's kind attention is to get sick). Having a sick child can also be a way for the narcissistic mother to get the sympathetic attention of authority figures, such as doctors and teachers.


Joanna M. Ashmun

.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Culture of Praise

By S. Michael Craven
Christian Post Guest Columnist

Christian Post

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story addressing the “culture of praise” that is becoming characteristic of the next generation of American workers.

The article reports that “corporations including Land’s End and Bank of America are hiring consultants to teach managers how to compliment employees… The 1,000 employee Scooter Store, Inc… has a staff ‘celebrations’ assistant whose job it is throw confetti – 25 pounds a week – at employees… The Container Store Inc. estimates that one of its 4,000 employees receives praise every 20 seconds through such efforts as its ‘Celebration Voice Mailboxes.’” Bob Nelson, a consultant specializing in “praise issues” counsels up to 100 companies each year. Nelson says “workers under 40 require far more stroking…they want near-constant feedback.” Nelson advises bosses: “If a young worker has been chronically late for work and then starts arriving on time, commend him.” Commend him?! How about reminding him of his obligations and responsibilities for which he receives a paycheck!

Steve Smolinsky, a marketing consultant who teaches MBA students at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, says that he and his colleagues feel hand-cuffed by the language of self-esteem. “You have to tell students, ‘Its not as good as you can do. You’re really smart, and can do better.’” Smolinsky says he enjoys giving praise when it’s warranted “but there needs to be a flip-side. When people are lousy, they need to be told that.”

The article’s author points out, “Childhood in recent decades has been defined by such stroking – by parents who see their job as building self-esteem, by soccer coaches who give every player a trophy, by schools who used to name one ‘student of the month’ and these days name 40.” What the article fails to identify is what produced this culture of superficial self-esteem building.

Christopher Lasch points out in his important book, The Culture of Narcissism, “The contemporary climate is therapeutic not religious. People today hunger not for personal salvation, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security.” Following the eclipse of the Christian worldview that once shaped American life and culture, the “therapeutic” revolution of the sixties emerged to convince us that “personal happiness” was the ultimate goal of human life. This idea has only further encouraged the individual self to elevate his or her needs and interests above everyone else’s.

By replacing the former religious culture with today’s therapeutic culture we have unwittingly created the most narcissistic generation in American history. “For a multi-university study released this year, 16,475 college students took the standardized narcissistic personality inventory… Students’ scores have risen steadily since the test was first offered, in 1982. The average college student in 2006 was 30 percent more narcissistic than the average student in 1982.” (WSJ)

What precisely is this narcissism I speak of and how does the therapeutic sensibility contribute to its formation? In short, the advent of Freudian psychotherapy sought to liberate men from what it saw as outdated modes of thinking about such things as love, duty, self-sacrifice, and submission to higher authority. Under the Freudian premise “mental health,” which becomes the highest human goal, was defined as “the overthrow of inhibitions and the immediate gratification of every impulse.” Each person’s own desires and wants were given primacy over and above everything and everyone else, including God. Doing so, we were told, would make us “happy” and nearly every aspect of contemporary American culture has combined to reinforce this message.

By contrast, the Bible defines love as subordinating your needs to those of others; that we have a God-given duty to serve and assist others, that self-sacrifice is the ultimate demonstration of this love, and that we are to submit to authority in the same way we submit to God. Furthermore, happiness is NOT the central aim of human existence – knowing and glorifying God is, and from this flows something much deeper than temporal happiness: joy, which endures beyond circumstances, producing true contentment.

Not surprisingly, the “praise me” generation are not only, NOT happy; they are, in many cases, increasingly alienated from others, disconnected from any transcendent meaning or purpose, insecure, and overly dependent upon the approval of others. This generation suffers from the highest levels of depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and various other psychological pathologies, than any other generation in American history despite having been repeatedly told that they are the greatest!

This misguided love of self, personal happiness and self-gratification has effectively replaced the Gospel of Jesus Christ as mankind’s hope. Even, in some cases, within the Church itself by the creation of the “therapeutic Jesus,” who is presented as merely the religious means to these same ends.

How does the church, who takes it mission seriously, respond to and reach such a culture? Here, I refer not to my own “wisdom” but to the words of Jesus himself:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

Add to this Jesus’ words given to the disciples in the book of John:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

This generation desperately needs to see and experience the love of Christ, not in word, but in deed. By witnessing and experiencing true love and acceptance – on no other basis than they are people made in the image of God – they can begin to discover their true value in something other than superficial praise. This is especially so among this generation, who, on one hand craves praise and attention, also recognizes the artificiality of same. They want praise and attention but their pervasive insecurities, because of the all-too-often unmerited praise, make them suspect of its authenticity when it is given. In general, they have become cynical when it comes to words spoken – they need authentication through demonstration.

Practically, this means that the Church must return to being “missional” by both strengthening its own sense of community (love for one another) and reaching out to and physically serving the community that surrounds them (love of neighbor). Quite simply, the Church must return to being the Church and stop relying on programs, events, and spectacles to win the lost and instead love one another and their neighbors in order to bear witness to the life-changing truth of Jesus.
_______________________________________________

S. Michael Craven is the Founding Director of the Center for Christ & Culture, a ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to the reformation and renewal of society through the reformation and renewal of the Church. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources, and other works by S. Michael Craven visit: www.battlefortruth.org

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

All about me --

Is the 'self-esteem movement' working too well?


By Emilie Le Beau

McClatchy Newspapers

Wearing a red cowboy hat and tall boots, Sarah Goldberg, 20, skipped into the "American Idol" auditions in New York City. The judges were speechless as she screeched her way through "Dreaming of You" by Selena.

Goldberg quickly admitted she wasn't a singer but claimed she could be the next American Idol if the judges taught her how to sing. They refused and cut her from the competition.

Crying hard, Goldberg yelled: "Look at this! I'm unique! Woo-oo!"

Goldberg isn't the only one in her age group who thinks she's special. Researchers surveyed more than 16,000 college students between 1982 and 2006 and found narcissism has increased by 30 percent. And younger kids may be guilty too.

Narcissism is when a person is extremely self-centered. In the survey, narcissistic students agreed with statements such as, "I think I am a very special person," and, "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place."

Psychologist Jean M. Twenge was the study's lead researcher, and says kids have been taught narcissism at school and from their parents. She calls it the "self-esteem movement" and says it began in schools in the 1980s.

"Preschoolers sang, 'I Am Special,'" she says. "In some schools, (teachers) even took it further by not correcting (students') mistakes because they didn't want to hurt self-esteem," says Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University and author of "Generation Me."

Kids also see many examples of narcissism in the media, such as Goldberg's "Idol" audition outburst. Twenge says this is because kids have been taught they can do anything they want, even though it's not true.

"Just wanting it isn't enough. You have to have talent and you have to work," Twenge says.

So if college students are more self-centered these days, are younger kids heading in the same direction?

It's possible -- because there hasn't been a change in the self-esteem programs that lead to increased narcissism. At sporting events, for example, Twenge says, kids on losing teams even get trophies, so feelings aren't hurt.

James L. thinks narcissism can be a problem in his generation. "At my age, kids are always thinking of themselves," says James, 14. "But some kids are not self-centered."

David B., 13, agrees that not all kids are narcissistic. He says many of his friends and classmates focus on others.

"Living in Chicago, we see people on the street who are asking for money. I know a lot of kids who have a lot of sympathy for them," David says.

But on TV, David says he sees a different mentality. The phrase "It's all about me" often is used on the MTV reality show "My Super Sweet 16."

"I think it's used too much," David says. "Quite frankly, it's not all about you. There are 6 billion other people in the world."

Angela P. also doesn't think her generation is completely self-absorbed. But she feels narcissistic kids may have a harder time in the future.

"If you want to be successful, you have to think about others -- especially if you have a career that involves teamwork," says Angela, 13.

Narcissists are more likely to have troubles in personal relationships. And it can be bad for society if everyone has an "it's all about me" attitude.

Twenge says kids are being taught it's important to express themselves. "In some cases, that's true. But if you're hurting someone else, that's narcissistic thinking," she says.


Post-Bulletin

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Pathological narcissism

Harv Rev Psychiatry. 1996 Mar-Apr;3(6):326-40.

Pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder in Axis I disorders.

Ronningstam E.

Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA.

This paper presents available information on the comorbidity of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and pathological narcissism with major mental illness. A review of empirical studies reporting on the prevalence of NPD in Axis I disorders, and of theoretical and clinical literature on narcissistic pathology in major mental illness, forms the basis for an analysis of this interface. The results show that prevalence rates of NPD in Axis I disorders rarely exceed those found in the general psychiatric or personality disorder populations (i.e., less than 22%). NPD was found at high rates in individuals with a substance use disorder (12-38%) or bipolar disorder (4-47%); it was present at very low rates or absent in persons with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Higher prevalence rates were reported in the studies that used the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory I or II than in those that employed the Structured interview for DSM-III Personality Disorders or the Structured Interview for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders--Revised. There is no evidence implicating a significant relationship between NPD and any specific Axis I disorder. A comparison of theoretical and clinical studies with empirical ones reveals major differences in the views regarding the presence and significance of NPD in Axis I disorders. However, the results highlight trends of interacting comorbidity between NPD and substance use disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and anorexia nervosa.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Co-dependence

Conventional wisdom says that many ask Must I leave him? because they are "co-dependant" or "inverted narcissists." That is a fancy way of saying that they are gluttons for punishment, that they get some masochistic pleasure out of being abused. The line is that they seek out narcissistic mates. In other words, they are mentally ill themselves.

There is such a thing as the "martyr complex."

But beware, this explanation blatantly blames the victim. And any explanation that blames the victim should be viewed with healthy skepticism. Why? Because it is anti-logical.

Remember that society used to blame the victim for rape, racism, and every other form of abuse. Different forms of blaming the victim pass in and out of vogue, but blaming the victim is as old as the Bible (illness or misfortune was punishment for sin) and goes on forever. It starts in the school yard and continues in the workplace. Every time the big guy hits on a little one, everybody agrees that the little guy "asked for it." Nobody ever asks, "Now why would he do that?" For, they readily believe that the little guy is so stupid or crazy as to have poked his finger into that big guy's eye. But if you try to say that the big guy just attacked without being provoked, they never fail to skeptically ask, "Now why would he do that?" See the double standard?

Saying that a mate reluctant to leave a narcissist is co-dependent ignores the countless ways that normal people can end up in a crucible, through no fault of their own.

For example, much of what we know about narcissism has come from families in which the poisoned fruit ripened during the last fifteen-to-twenty years. These families were formed after World War II, when there was a shortage of men, and women alone could not support themselves. Doubtless, many women settled for husbands they would not settle for in today's world. Divorce was both financially unfeasible and taboo. Also, if a woman has a narcissistic father, she has no way of knowing that all men are not like that. She has been raised to view his dissatisfaction with her as her fault and to put up with being treated as inferior. She also has feelings abused from early childhood. Bruised feelings. So they are more sensitive than most people's feelings. Narcissists target women like this as easy prey because their self esteem is easy to puncture.

Narcissists need not be exceptionally intelligent, but they are exceptionally experienced, because they have been playing this game since childhood. So they are diabolical. Therefore, unless a narcissist is manifestly brilliant, he is bound to be underestimated and thought incapable of cunning and duplicity. It is amazing how little suspicion he arouses as he goes to great lengths weaving a web that traps a mate by isolating her from other people and making her financially, socially, and emotionally dependent on him. Then suddenly the honeymoon is over.

Plus, there is such a thing as the cycle of abuse.


Kathleen Krajco

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Narcissist traits translated

1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

Translation: Grandiosity is the hallmark of narcissism. So what is grandiose?

The simplest everyday way that narcissists show their exaggerated sense of self-importance is by talking about family, work, life in general as if there is nobody else in the picture. Whatever they may be doing, in their own view, they are the star, and they give the impression that they are bearing heroic responsibility for their family or department or company, that they have to take care of everything because their spouses or co-workers are undependable, uncooperative, or otherwise unfit. They ignore or denigrate the abilities and contributions of others and complain that they receive no help at all; they may inspire your sympathy or admiration for their stoicism in the face of hardship or unstinting self-sacrifice for the good of (undeserving) others. But this everyday grandiosity is an aspect of narcissism that you may never catch on to unless you visit the narcissist's home or workplace and see for yourself that others are involved and are pulling their share of the load and, more often than not, are also pulling the narcissist's share as well. An example is the older woman who told me with a sigh that she knew she hadn't been a perfect mother but she just never had any help at all -- and she said this despite knowing that I knew that she had worn out and discarded two devoted husbands and had lived in her parents' pocket (and pocketbook) as long as they lived, quickly blowing her substantial inheritance on flaky business schemes. Another example is claiming unusual benefits or spectacular results from ordinary effort and investment, giving the impression that somehow the narcissist's time and money are worth more than other people's. [Here is an article about recognizing and coping with narcissism in the workplace; it is rather heavy on management jargon and psychobabble, but worth reading. "The Impact of Narcissism on Leadership and Sustainability" by Bruce Gregory, Ph.D. "When the narcissistic defense is operating in an interpersonal or group setting, the grandiose part does not show its face in public. In public it presents a front of patience, congeniality, and confident reasonableness."]


2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

Translation: Narcissists cultivate solipsistic or "autistic" fantasies, which is to say that they live in their own little worlds (and react with affront when reality dares to intrude).


3. Believes he is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

Translation: Narcissists think that everyone who is not special and superior is worthless. By definition, normal, ordinary, and average aren't special and superior, and so, to narcissists, they are worthless.


4. Requires excessive admiration

Translation: Excessive in two ways: they want praise, compliments, deference, and expressions of envy all the time, and they want to be told that everything they do is better than what others can do. Sincerity is not an issue here; all that matter are frequency and volume.


5. Has a sense of entitlement

Translation: They expect automatic compliance with their wishes or especially favorable treatment, such as thinking that they should always be able to go first and that other people should stop whatever they're doing to do what the narcissists want, and may react with hurt or rage when these expectations are frustrated.


6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends

Translation: Narcissists use other people to get what they want without caring about the cost to the other people.


7. Lacks empathy

Translation: They are unwilling to recognize or sympathize with other people's feelings and needs. They "tune out" when other people want to talk about their own problems.

In clinical terms, empathy is the ability to recognize and interpret other people's emotions. Lack of empathy may take two different directions: (a) accurate interpretation of others' emotions with no concern for others' distress, which is characteristic of psychopaths; and (b) the inability to recognize and accurately interpret other people's emotions, which is the NPD style. This second form of defective empathy may (rarely) go so far as alexithymia, or no words for emotions, and is found with psychosomatic illnesses, i.e., medical conditions in which emotion is experienced somatically rather than psychically. People with personality disorders don't have the normal body-ego identification and regard their bodies only instrumentally, i.e., as tools to use to get what they want, or, in bad states, as torture chambers that inflict on them meaningless suffering. Self-described narcissists who've written to me say that they are aware that their feelings are different from other people's, mostly that they feel less, both in strength and variety (and which the narcissists interpret as evidence of their own superiority); some narcissists report "numbness" and the inability to perceive meaning in other people's emotions.


8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him

Translation: No translation needed.


9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes

Translation: They treat other people like dirt.


Joanna M. Ashmun

Friday, June 08, 2007

Narcissism, Association and Taboo

An Essay by Ken Sanes:

As human beings, we are all tool-using, power- and status-seeking, symbolizing and culture-creating, aggressive and assertive, immortality-fascinated, sexual and pleasure-seeking, safety and relationship-seeking beings. We are also inherently narcissistic beings who must, by drive, necessity and desire, live together in groups. Out of this interaction between narcissism and association, much of society takes shape.

Narcissism is our natural state, one we are born with. It means that we are immersed in our selves, in our own pleasures and pains and our point of view. We are the center of our world. As traditional psychoanalysis would put it, like Narcissus, we adopt our selves as our own love object. We measure what we encounter by its effect on us and we seek pleasure and avoid pain, this being a part of our instinctual and physical inheritance.

This concept of narcissism is larger and more basic than the concept of self-interest used by economic theory, which generally describes people as seeking what they believe is in their interest, and avoiding what is not in their interest. Self-interest is itself only an expression of our absolute and primal self-involvement with ourselves.

When this narcissism is paired off with other human abilities, such as our ability to reason, and the struggle for survival, we get the calculating, strategizing characters of economic theory. But other kinds of behavior emerge from this same matrix. For example, when we feel we have been slighted or aggressed against in some way, we spontaneously desire revenge over the other party to right the wrong and restore our sense of esteem to its rightful place. When we are put down, we spontaneously yearn to master others, to repair the narcissistic wound. Such reactions are primitive and spontaneous, and they express the self's absolute involvement with itself.

But even as narcissistic beings, we must live together and can't imagine not doing so. We coalesce into groups. We produce new generations. We display ourselves. We flock together and take narcissistic pleasure in the joys of withness. We organize to serve our own interests. We derive social pleasure from being together, from exchanging symbolic parts of ourselves in conversation. We don't merely interact with other people as other narcissistic selves, but we expand our narcissism to include them, through identification. We judge them according to how they affect our projects: are they obstacles or allies; are they like us or different. We conspire with them, exchanging secrets, knowing glances and covert communications, and ultimately we symbolically taken them in or we spit them out and designate them as Other.

We expand our basic narcissistic definition of ourselves to other people spontaneously and as a basic psychological process. Our sense of narcissistic identification expands to include family, friends, the group and ultimately the nation, so that what slights these, slights us. And we transfer the image of the primary caretakers we identified with onto other people later in life, so that these early self-shaping experiences become a template for later experiences.

One of the ways our narcissism finds social expression and one of the bridges connecting our narcissistic selves with society, is our self-esteem and public image. Our self-esteem is the image we have of ourselves, the messages we constantly give ourselves about who we are, how good we are as people and members of society, based, ultimately, on cognitive-emotional schemas we have of ourselves in relation to the primary caretakers of childhood. It is our world of self-reproaches and self-flattery. When the messages are good, our sense of ourselves expands.

Many of the messages to ourselves about ourselves fall into one or more of three categories: morality, competence, desirability. We are often measuring ourselves. How good are we? How good are we at what we do? How desirable in the eyes of our fellows? Growing up, we develop images of ourselves and significant others, as good, competent and desirable, or bad incompetent and undesirable, based on messages we get from significant others. And so we constantly seek to make ourselves the former, so the internalized version of our significant others that is part of our minds can send us flattering messages about ourselves.

But this self-esteem is also tethered to our reputation and status, since, to an important degree, we project our significant others onto others, and then judge ourselves based on how they judge us. Thus, it is easier to have good self-esteem with a good public image and a high status, and it is easier to project a good public image when we have high self-esteem.

In order to maintain our self-esteem and succeed in our group life, we use our skills and rationality, abstracting lessons from situations, retaining what we learn and applying it to new situations. We develop sensory-motor skills and we use a kind of social rationality to develop our social skills and social persona. We learn the customs of the society we grow up in and learn how to manifest them.

As self-involved creatures, living together, seeking each other out, we also, spontaneously create and crystallize a moral order, with taboos, prohibitions and proscriptions of what we must do, can do and cannot do, and why. Taboos determine what is acceptable conduct and unacceptable; what will be respected and deplored. They define the boundary of conduct beyond which is transgression. Taboos and the moral order are complex cultural creations that come from a number of sources. To an important degree, they come out of our own psychodynamics, our instinctuality, and evolve over time. Much of the moral order is, in essence, what narcissistic creatures devise in order to live together. They regulate how we will interact, defining and protecting individual rights and the social order from our own egoism.

Negative emotions, based in our narcissism and esteem system, are a part of what keep us in line with taboos. When we violate the moral order, we know we may suffer various kinds of social sanction, including a loss of reputation and thus self-esteem. Having internalized the moral order, we suffer this loss in our own eyes. We experience shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, embarrassment and humiliation, all of which reduce our sense of ourselves in the eyes of ourselves. Internalized fears of danger similarly keep us in line. It is as if the conscious personality and behavior is surrounded by a force field. When we stray too far into realms we have been taught are taboo, in what we think or do, we experience a fear of the danger of a loss of love and esteem from ourselves and others, a loss of significant others, and of physical injury. We then fall back.

To some degree, these taboos correlate with psychological repression. They are a system for regulating desires and repulsions, and they determine what we can think and symbolize to ourselves about our own motives.

http://www.transparencynow.com/