Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Do You Have a Narcissist in Your Life?

"Narcissism: The Web of Illusion" is a powerful new E-book written by Rev. Kaleah LaRoche. It delves deeply into the topic of Narcissism in our society taking readers beyond the psychological perspective into a whole new world of understanding.

Spokane, DE, October 29, 2007 --( Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder were once uncommon terms understood by few. However with the growing number of people who have been victimized by those who have this complex disorder, awareness is increasing. Narcissism is becoming a popular term in the United States and other Countries.

Kaleah LaRoche delves deeply into the topic of narcissism in her powerful new E-book “Narcissism: The Web of Illusion.” She approaches narcissism from many different perspectives looking at the relationship between narcissism and evil, and even shedding a bright light on what evil really is.

An Interfaith Minister, and survivor of narcissistic abuse, Kaleah has spent over seven years researching narcissism, which she believes is becoming a huge problem in our society. “Narcissism is not just a psychological issue” says Kaleah, “it is a spiritual issue! There is a soul rape that takes place amongst victims and I am on a personal mission to help people understand what is happening to them.”

Kaleah believes knowledge is power and the more one knows about the complex web of illusion created by the narcissist, the more tools one has to free herself from the abuse.

“Narcissism: The Web of Illusion” is a users manual for those recovering from narcissistic abuse and also for those who love someone who has gone through this type of abuse.

For more information about this E-book you can visit:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Joker

This is something I think no one can tell you. I know that no one could have told me. I had to see it prove true many times in many ways, battering through my denial and knocking down my illusions till I could accept it.

So I don't expect to persuade anyone of this. In fact, if you're this easy to persuade, you're too easy to persuade. But I do put it out there for you to consider. Don't listen to the talk, watch the walk. Then judge for yourself and see what you think.

Narcissists are predators.

And of course these pathological liars will never admit that. They are perfect, you know. If caught being less than perfect, they put on a poor-little-harmless-me face and try to make people think that they lash out at others in self defense.

The biggest lie narcissists tell is that they hurt people more or less accidentally, without meaning to or because they are in pain and/or feel threatened or put down or insulted, because they have these tender, tender feelings that are just so sensitive you see.

Something like that. They are vague and hard to nail down to leave themselves wiggle room - but something like that.

I know that's a lie. I know that they are not playing defense when they lash out. I know that they are playing offense. You can tell by the nature of the prey they target. Easy prey, not people who have done anything to hurt them.

In fact, I know that they have impenetrably thick skin when the person insulting them is someone they would fear retaliation from. In other words, they're just bullies.

And when they get caught, and people say, "You naughty bully, why did you do that to your spouse or child?" they whine that it was because they had such a miserable childhood and because they felt "threatened."

Yeah, right, threatened by a child.

Speaking of their feelings, where are they now? Dig deep. You will not discover one ounce of feeling in the narcissist for that child. Clue: see if you can find one bit of genuine feeling in a narcissist for anyone but him- or her-self.

And, I'm sorry, but having feeling for yourself is no virtue. Even a great white shark has feelings for itself. Feeling sorry for yourself doesn't make you human.

When narcissists abuse someone, they are never even partly in the right. Simply because it's always an act of aggression. It is a reaction to nothing but the sight of a vulnerable target of opportunity.

Therefore, no matter how imperfect their victim, he or she is wholly blameless.

Of course their delusions are threatened by any truth. Nothing wrong with that kind of threat. The fault is all theirs for deluding themselves and trying to impose their delusions on others. Their delusions are a threat to us. Something very wrong with THAT kind of threat.

One minute the bullies are getting off on eviscerating the tender feelings of a little child, and the next minute they're whining that people think they're bad.

The devil is a joker, eh?

Kathleen Krajco

Monday, October 29, 2007

Man who threatened girlfriend, kids sentenced to prison

By Kevin Behr
Winona Daily News

A Lewiston man who threatened to kill his girlfriend and her two children while holding a miniature baseball bat will spend at least the next five and a half years in prison.

James Garnett Briggs, 47, was sentenced to 8¼ years in prison for assault with a dangerous weapon in the April 28 fight with his ex-girlfriend and her daughter. He will be eligible for supervised release after 66 months.

Although Briggs was convicted on eight of 10 felony charges, Winona County Attorney Chuck MacLean only wanted to sentence Briggs on three of them to avoid double jeopardy. The third sentence of 21 months was stayed in favor of five years of supervised probation.

At Briggs’ sentencing hearing Thursday, MacLean labeled Briggs an anti-social, manipulative narcissist.

“It’s all about him,” MacLean said. “Nobody else.”

MacLean had sought a 105-month sentence because, he said, Briggs showed absolutely no remorse throughout the court proceedings and pre-sentencing investigations and is a danger to public safety.

Judge Margaret Shaw Johnson agreed with what MacLean said but also complimented Briggs’ attempt at self-representation during his jury trial.

“He tried very hard,” she said, “and in many respects, did a good job representing himself.”

Briggs had little to say for himself but maintained his innocence.

“I shouldn’t feel remorse for them,” he said. “I never did this.”

At the end of the hearing, Johnson asked if Briggs had any questions regarding his sentence.

“No ma’am. See you in a few,” Briggs said as he was led out of the courtroom.

His response referenced several case files still pending before Johnson.

Briggs is charged with 49 felonies and six gross misdemeanors alleging he violated orders for protection and tampered with witnesses, all while in jail. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for allegedly calling his victims from jail and sending letters to the children threatening to put them in jail or foster care for testifying against him.

No date has been set for Briggs’s next court hearing on those charges.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This blog is one year old!

On 28 October 2006 the first post on this blog was made.

So as the first year draws to a close it is worthwhile to review the blog and make changes which may better serve its original purpose which was:

“This blog is therefore dedicated to encouraging individuals and communities to stand up to narcissists and expose their methods and activities at every opportunity.”

The first change in year two will be to encourage participation and this end contributions from others will be welcome.

Contributions should be sent to:

Thanks to you all for reading this blog and I sincerely hope that it has proved valuable to you in some small way and may it through the contributions of others grow to have a positive impact on many more people.

Best wishes to all,

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The narcissist’s revenge

Because a narcissist’s very existence is based on their belief in their own superiority, any criticism, complaint or challenge to that belief is a serious threat.

When someone criticizes him (or her) he assumes they are trying to change him, influence, or lead him, or trying to exert power and control over him, all of which are affronts to his sense of superiority and perfection. If his ego is wounded he loses control of his self-created, grandiose identity so that he feels humiliated and powerless.

He sees himself as above reproach and his natural reaction to anyone who does reproach him is to feel attacked which in turn provokes rage, contempt, withdrawal, or hostility and the urge to punish.

The aim of punishment, which is essentially revenge, is to teach the culprit a lesson. They must suffer for displeasing or offending the narcissist, or for not believing in his superiority. Such retaliation gives the narcissist a sense of power and pleasure.

But sometimes the narcissist’s victim gives no obvious offence and his punishment seems without motive. Sometimes the hidden motive is hostility toward a parent displaced onto a less threatening scapegoat. Or to build himself up by putting another down, to force them to see that in comparison to him they are ordinary and helpless. Or he may hate the person he depends on because relying on another contradicts his fantasy of self-reliant superiority.

And like some super novelist he makes people up, creates them in his mind to fit his own needs, so that he thinks he knows them inside out and how they should behave. So he may punish someone simply for not playing the role he assigns them, even though they have done nothing wrong except be themselves. When they do not behave how he thinks they should, when they fail to fulfil his needs and wants, he rejects or punishes them for disobeying his unspoken rules and expectations. He is capable of extreme actions (such as road rage or stalking) against those who do not conform to how thing are supposed to be.

The narcissist doesn’t want a relationship based on equality and honesty. He wants flattery and adoration, to be put on a pedestal, to get everything he expects and when he doesn’t, he may retaliate with surprising vindictiveness. His attitude is: “Give me what I want and be what I want or you will suffer.”

Sometimes punishing behaviour is nothing more than a sadistic, ego-boosting pleasure in causing pain, especially when a partner still loves him and stays with him despite his atrocious treatment. She is supposed to be so utterly devoted to him that she will endure anything. But such devotion has to be tested. How much he can hurt her is to him a measure of how important he is to her. But the partner who submits to his ill-treatment may find herself being punished for being too subservient, for being inferior, cowardly, contemptible. It’s a no-win position.

He may punish a partner for not living up to his expectations and not meeting his ideal standards. He expects that she fulfil his wishes perfectly and feels cheated and disappointed when inevitably she does not. It never occurs to him that he may expect too much. He assumes she has deliberately, even maliciously, deprived him of satisfaction and so feels justified in retaliating. Or he may want to punish her for enjoying the company of other people, for having other interests besides him, for being something he is not, or simply to demonstrated his power over her to prove to her that he can destroy her happiness at will.

He may punish her for changing in any way, losing weight, putting on weight, getting pregnant, returning to education, leaving or returning to work, because any change in his partner changes the self that she reflects back to him and threatens his sense of himself. He needs her to be a certain way so that he can see himself in a certain way.

He may even see a partner’s smallest needs or requests as insults. If she needs something that he doesn’t give, or asks him to do something he doesn’t naturally do, then she is saying he is inadequate and imperfect. Her offence may be nothing more than behaving like a normal person in a normal relationship. She may for example only try to get him to behave with no more than normal reasonableness, consideration and decency, or try to curb some excessive habit, to find herself the scapegoat for hostility and treated more like an enemy than a loved partner.

“Adrian’s” mother always cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast. She was a stay-at-home mum devoted to the care and coddling of her family, and especially her only son. When Adrian married Sue, he expected the same service from her that his mother had provided. But Sue worked long hours and spent considerable time commuting and had no intention of getting up even earlier to cook Adrian breakfast when he was quite capable of doing it for himself. Adrian felt hard done by and the lack of a cooked breakfast became for him a major grievance and sign of Sue’s failure to care for him the way she “should”. When she pointed out how unfair his expectations were he agreed with her; of course she worked as hard as he did, of course he didn’t expect her to be his servant. But like a petulant and stubborn child, his resentment grew. He began waging a campaign of guerrilla warfare against her and their marriage. He refused to share domestic chores or was so incompetent that he damaged appliances and ruined clothes and food; he spent lavishly on himself, was absent from home as much as possible and when that didn’t satisfy his need for revenge he had a series of affairs. Sue was not going to get away with treating him as though he was ordinary, as though he was no better than her.

Affairs are a narcissist’s common form of retaliation against a partner he believes does not give enough. Sometimes abandonment is her punishment. He might leave because she disappoints, although he never told her what he wanted. Sometimes he punishes by withholding what he knows his partner wants most, affection, attention, companionship, children, sex, money, his presence, whatever will cause her the most distress. Sometimes his reaction to criticism or whatever else he is punishing is so extreme that his partner never dares do it again and tiptoes around his delicate ego. Sometimes his punishments are irrational, excessive and dangerous, as any battered woman can testify.

Ultimate Self

© 2007 All rights reserved.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and sex

The sexual relationship with the narcissist is most peculiar. Narcissists are exhibitionists and sex is just one further means of being admired to her or him. There does not exist intimacy and you will frequently feel used. The narcissist will demand that you subdue yourself. Your own sexual preferences will be boycotted or twisted. Narcissists have a strong tendency to sexually abuse a partner and children. Here is a list of some of these abusive behaviors:

* You are prohibited from masturbating or feel good about your own body under the threat of punishment
* You are being made to watch porn although you don't want to
* You are not allowed any sexual gratification yourself
* The narcissist pretends to be sexual for you but is after her/his gratification only
* Your sexual past is being torn apart
* You are being told that all you want is sex (although you know this is not the case, however sex is central to the narcissist)
* The narcissist instigates sex (like telling you erotic things and sending you pictures or emails which are sexual) but then decides last minute that nothing is to take place or simply demands abusive sex
* The narcissist abuses you while you are asleep (sleep rape)
* You are being raped on a daily basis
* You are feeling humiliated and yet the narcissist claims that (s)he has been humiliated
* The narcissist finds it funny when you get hurt and enjoys it when you get hurt, this can be physically or emotionally
* The narcissist instigates and turns everything into a sexual game
* The narcissist demands prolonged sex way above the limit you can handle nor want to
* The narcissist tells you that you want to have sexual relations with everybody although the narcissist has a strong tendency to flirt with others and to be infidel
* You are being told off for the fact that you were flirting with someone although you are not flirting at all
* The narcissist makes fun of your sexuality in front of others (e.g. you have a small penis or small breasts)
* The narcissist demands sex when you make it clear that you don't want to
* The narcissist has to try out everything possible
* The narcissist is an exhibitionist and will want sex in public and dresses inappropriately at home and or elsewhere

There is another form of sexual abuse. In fact, so I believe, it is the most common one, and hence it took me so long to get it. This form of abuse comes in four stages:

* Firstly, the victim will be forced to reveal her or his sexual preferences and experiences to the perpetrator.
* Secondly, the perpetrator will condition the victim to direct her or his entire sexuality towards the perpetrator. At this stage, the sexual relationship is intense.
* Thirdly, the perpetrator reduces the intensity of the sexual relationship dramatically, so that the victim is in constant sexual need.
* Fourthy, the perpetrator grants inproper sexual gratification in order to maintain the sexual need of the victim. Now, the victim, who is (sexually) dependent on the perpetrator, can be humiliated, manipulated and used.

Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails

by Michael Maccoby

ISBN: 1422104141
ISBN-13: 9781422104149

From the Publisher
Today's business leaders maintain a higher profile than their predecessors did in the 1950s through the 1980s. Rather than hide behind the corporate veil, they give interviews to magazines like Business Week, Time, and the Economist. According to psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant Michael Maccoby, this love of the limelight often stems from their personalities--in a narcissistic personality. That is both good and bad news: Narcissists are good for companies that need people with vision and the courage to take them in new directions. But narcissists can also lead companies into trouble by refusing to listen to the advice and warnings of their managers. So what can the narcissistic leader do to avoid the traps of his own personality? Maccoby argues that today's most innovative leaders are not consensus-building bureaucrats; they are "productive narcissists" with the interrelated set of skills -- foresight, systems thinking, visioning, motivating, and partnering - that he terms "strategic intelligence." Maccoby redefines the negative stereotype as the personality best suited to lead during times of rapid social and economic change.

Customer Reviews

The N leader and the N led
By Ramana Rajgopaul (Pune, India)

I originally purchased the book as I had had a very bad experience with a narcissistic leader and had to eventually part company with him. I could easily identify his behaviour with the portrayal in the book. What however blew me was the realisation that I had some narcissistic traits in me too!

Since I had experienced failure prior to the ralization of my own narcissism, I particularly savoured the part of the type of Ns who succeed.

I recommend this book to all interested in studying human behaviour as often we do not really understand that our leader/s is/are narcissistic and go through very difficult times. If we ourselves have narcissistic tendencies, this book helps us to identify this trait to take such steps as necessary to lead a happy life.

Why some narcissistic leaders are productive...and others are not
By Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

As Michael Maccoby explains in his Preface, "To understand differences among narcissists and even predict which visionaries will succeed and which are likely to fail, this book dissects narcissistic personalities and contrasts narcissists with the other psychoanalytic personalities: the careful obsessives, caring erotics, and adaptive marketing types." Maccoby concludes, "I'm proposing that management theories need to take account of personality and context. Different personality types shine in different settings. Their approach to leadership may be right for one context but not another." Jack Welch offers an excellent case in point. He was selected by Reggie Jones to succeed him as CEO, challenging Welch to "blow up" GE. He had the right "personality" for that "context." (For years thereafter, he was referred to as "Neutron Jack.") Throughout the narrative that follows, Maccoby focuses on other examples of productive as well as non-productive narcissists, comparing and contrasting them in terms of their positive or negative impact, especially on their respective corporate cultures.

Of special interest to me is what Maccoby has to say about what he characterizes as "strategic intelligence," especially in Chapter 4. It consists of five elements. The first two (foresight and systems thinking) are "pure intelligence" skills. The other three (visioning, motivating, and partnering) are what Maccoby views as "real-world" skills. He rigorously examines each of the five elements, and what emerges is a composite profile of the productive narcissist: she or he thinks in terms of unprovable forces that are shaping the future...sensing a coming wave that [her or his organization] can ride on"; possesses "an ability to synthesize and integrate, to conceptualize the whole rather than a collection of separate parts"; has a holistic vision, then creates that vision in the real world of business; then achieves buy-in of that vision throughout the given enterprise to embrace a common purpose and implement the vision; and finally, understands "how each alliance, whether personal or corporate, fits into [her or his] vision for the company."

On Pages 197-200, Maccoby provides an especially clever summary of the five elements in the form of a series of statements (one cluster per element) that enables each reader to complete a preliminary (rather than definitive) self-diagnostic of her or his own strategic intelligence. It should also be noted that, previously in Chapter One, Maccoby provides a questionnaire that invites his reader to respond to a series of 80 statements, indicating Never, Almost Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Frequently, or Almost Always. Then in the Appendix, he explains how to interpret the questionnaire results and provides two forms to chart results. One suggests the degree to which the reader's responses fit the four personality types (i.e. erotic, possessive, marketing, and narcissistic); the other chart suggests the profile for the productive aspects of each type (i.e. caring, systematic, self-developing, and visionary). By the time his reader arrives at the Appendix, Maccoby has thoroughly discussed all of the various elements, personality types, and productive aspects.

To repeat, the self-diagnostic he offers is by no means definitive, nor does he make any such claim. It was of substantial value to me, however, because it increased my understanding of Maccoby's core concepts; also, by completing the self-diagnostic, I was challenged to think about those aspects of my own personality that I can - and should -- leverage to become more productive.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Responding to the Workplace Narcissist

Title: Responding to the Workplace Narcissist

Authors: Wesner, Bradley S.

Advisor: Sandwina, Ronald

Coping Methods

Issue Date: 10-Jul-2007

Abstract: The presence of narcissism in the workplace is well established. Some have even gone so far as to extol the virtues of the narcissistic personality and the effect that it has on the leadership roles in organizations. Still, research suggests that there are more narcissists than there are leadership positions that might be filled. It is well established that the presence of those with strong narcissistic tendencies at the lower levels of organizations are disruptive to the productivity and the morale of the organization as a whole. This paper found that five coping method categories existed: non-responding, quitting one’s job, befriending the narcissist, confronting the narcissist, and going to management. Contrary to existing literature, only quitting one’s job or going to management were perceived by respondents as effective methods.

Description: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)


Read the study here

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ask the Stress Doc

The Corporate Narcissist: Can't Survive with Him, Can't Survive without Him

Q. Dear Doc, I need help deciding how to cope with a workplace Narcissist. He's very skilled (sometimes brilliant). Firing him would affect my business badly. Yet he has caused at least one employee to leave, and exhausts everyone else with his chaotic behaviors. He flashes hot and cold, first charismatic, then raging or rejecting. The worst is his artful evasiveness and/or fabrications when asked direct questions. When he senses female vulnerability, he charms and engages his new "friend" for a short time, then drops her. In short, he creates chaos. Yet, it's hard to let him go because for years he has asked me (and I believed he was sincere) to help him overcome his condition (which he acknowledges one month and denies in anger the next)! Are there effective ways to contain or manage or negotiate with a narcissist to decrease the impacts of his condition in a workplace environment? How can one temper the interaction with the Narcissist to keep him productively on the job?

A. Being a mostly reformed narcissist, maintaining a detached perspective is a bit tricky. I must admit for years I've been talking about starting an NA -- Narcissists Anonymous -- Group: for those of us who are truly legends in our own minds. Anyway...You certainly capture the narcissistic profile: an elusive, often volatile person with some talent and, even more, a bigger sense of entitlement. And while there may be a capacity for some pseudo intimacy, the person's often clueless about emotional boundaries. This individual was likely scarred in childhood -- abandonment, underlying humiliation, trust and control are often key issues. And when the necessary headwork, heartwork and homework is neglected, the person believes he deserves special treatment, both because of his "unique" gifts and because of his previous victimization. And always lurking is instantaneous shame and rage when feeling belittled, misunderstood, ignored, etc. This person's sensitivity is definitely double-edged.

It's also important to underscore the double-edged impact on your business: while there are company benefits to his brilliance, there are painful costs. If left to his own devices, he will be a "stress and chaos carrier" for many other employees, as you document.

As for effective strategies with this guy, several come to mind: 1) limit as much as possible the amount of interaction he has with other employees, 2) have him report to you, less that you are checking up on him, more that you want to stay cutting edge. (You may need to swallow some rage here.) And, finally, the only strategy I believe really has a shot is 3) having a psychological counselor/coach who understands this personality meet with both of you. I also envision two possible directions: a) frame the intervention initially as follows: "I need help in learning how to integrate your creativity and complex and uncommon personality into the organization." (Stroking a narcissist's ego is almost failproof. Or add a touch of humor, this will also appeal to his vanity and be less threatening to a vulnerable ego: "I need help in order to not let you drive me bananas." In light of you being female and of his issues with women, the consultant should be a male. The goal would be to have the narcissist bond with the coach, begin to recognize and control his shame and rage. Hopefully, he will also get some grounding and sense of boundaries with this male authority; b) the second option emerges if you've reached the point of knowing "freedom 's just another word for nothing left to lose." Have a joint meeting with the counselor or conflict specialist, and just be real with your anger and concerns. Let Mr. N know that you'd like to work out any issues the two of you have, support his getting counseling, etc. But you will not be able to accept his dysfunctional behavior in the office. And that's the bottom line! And that's how you...Practice Safe Stress!

Postscript: As for a specific consultant, I'm rested and ready. My motto -- "Have Stress? Will Travel: A Smart Mouth for Hire!" What can I say: Once a narcissist, always a narcissist. ;-)

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, the Stress Doc, a psychotherapist and nationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant and author

Monday, October 22, 2007

Unnatural narcissism

Narcissism is a normal and inherent part of human nature. We are all narcissistic to a degree but some people have excessive levels of narcissism. A little narcissism might be a good thing but a lot is not. Narcissism, and from here on by narcissism I mean excessive rather than normal narcissism, is not a disease or insanity but a basic motivation and a way of life. It is an unconscious, primitive, protective impulse, a set of beliefs, instincts, and urges based upon the superiority of the self that influence all thought and action.

The narcissist has an idealized, superior, self-image, which is the exclusive centre of his or her world and life. This sense of superiority can be based on:

* a person’s body (appearance, health, sexual prowess, physical fitness, or sporting ability).

* their mind (intelligence and knowledge, real or imagined, or some talent or ability).

* their ‘spirituality’.

* Or their social being—their status, leadership skills, competitiveness, ability to control and dominate others, or on being a ‘people person’, ‘life of the party’, someone popular and loved by all.

Narcissists usually elevate the importance of the area upon which they base their superiority and dismiss or denigrate the others. The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre for example, was so invested in the power of his mind that he was impatient with the requirements of his own body and even resented having to shave, clean his teeth, and bathe.

Some narcissists see themselves as superior in more than one area or even in all four. Still others don’t feel any need at all to have, be, or do anything out of the ordinary, or to prove or justify their superiority in any way. They believe they were simply born superior. They see themselves as special, different, above the everyday faults, afflictions, obligations, problems, and responsibilities of ‘ordinary’ people. But as with all self-enhancing illusions, believing oneself to be superior does not necessarily make it so. It is possible not only to have an inaccurate self-view but a highly inaccurate self-view. It is possible for a plain, overweight person, for example, to believe they are stunningly attractive, or for someone with a lower than average IQ and little education to believe they are a genius. Even narcissists who are attractive, talented, or intelligent are rarely as exceptional as they believe themselves to be. Unrealistic self-assessment is the essence of narcissism.

Highly narcissistic people exist among all cultures, social classes and races, in young and old, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual. People with highly narcissistic personalities are everywhere—the neighbour who talks non stop about the minutiae of her life and her opinions on everything without the slightest interest in yours, the employee taking credit for other’s work and ideas, bullies, drama queens and prima donnas, computer hackers, louts, hoons, vandals, graffitists, ill-mannered oafs, pushy sales people, corporate cowboys, and con artists. The narcissist is the road-rager who thinks everyone should get out of his way, the domineering mother-in-law who wages guerrilla warfare against her child’s spouse, or the ‘best friend’ who seduces your partner. They might be your parent, sibling, child, employer, co-worker, friend, spouse, or lover. Narcissism fuels racism, sexism, snobbery, and religious bigotry. It contributes to many disturbed and dysfunctional relationships, is the central problem of many addicts, and is the cause of much abusive and criminal behaviour.

Narcissists have always been around and have always been trouble. We have many names for them—spoilt brat, delinquent, braggart, egotist, love-rat, rogue, scoundrel, villain, femme fatale, philanderer. Jails are full of them, so are drug and alcohol treatment programs, divorce courts, corporate offices, and singles bars (even when they are not single). At best, narcissists exasperate, at worst, they can be dangerous, but mostly they are unidentified, undiagnosed, and underestimated. Narcissism is a personality disorder and a powerful psychological force that in effect says:

* I am better than you, more important than you.
* I deserve whatever I want or need because I am special.
* The world should defer to me, recognize my greatness, and shower me with attention and admiration.
* Only what I want, think, feel, and believe, matters.
* Nobody tells me what to do.
* I never have to do anything I don’t want to or do anything that doesn’t feel good. And if it feels good it must be good no matter who it hurts.
* How dare anyone get in my way, inconvenience, or disappoint me.
* No one has the right to make demands on me or expect anything from me.
* If you are hurt that’s your problem not mine.
* Other people don’t have the same rights as I do.

Ultimate Self

Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The narcissist, unmasked

by Benedict Carey

Behind the confident face is a self-loathing
that therapists are just learning to confront.

They've got the most fabulous personal trainer in town, the best lawyer, the top BMW mechanic, and make sure the world knows it.

They're charming enough to attract friends, associates and lovers -- only to drop them as soon as better prospects show up. They need the best table in the house, the lion's share of the conversation and, above all, top billing, whether on the marquee or in the mailroom.

While familiar at almost any level of society, these peacocks find Southern California an especially comfortable habitat. In the warm bath of sunlight and celebrity, their behavior can be entertaining, even encouraged, and it's usually relatively harmless.

Yet some of these seemingly overconfident people are actually in considerable psychological trouble, suffering what psychiatrists call narcissistic personality disorder, one of the most self-destructive and difficult-to-treat conditions in the lexicon of mental illness.

For contrary to Narcissus of Greek legend, who was enthralled by his own reflection in a pool of water, researchers say that roughly 1 million Americans with this personality disorder act not from self-love but from a kind of self-loathing, a dread of failure and an inability to endure its emotional fallout -- shame.

Millions more are thought to suffer from narcissistic tendencies, due to similar but less extreme fears. Recent research suggests that this anguish develops in early childhood, and that therapists can help put it to rest. New treatments combine advice on handling everyday situations -- so-called cognitive therapy -- with emotional forays into the unconscious more typical of psychoanalysis.

This integration of biology and psychology amounts to a "paradigm shift" in the way that therapists understand conditions such as narcissism, said Allan Schore, a UCLA behavioral specialist and expert on the origins of personality disorders.

"The essential thing seems to be that the patient not only see their narcissism, and talk about it," he said, "but also that they have a physical experience of the emotion that underlies it -- rage, shame, sadness, whatever it is."

Disorder's specific traits

The word "narcissist" is so commonly thrown around that it's in danger of becoming an all-purpose label for any difficult character, in the same way that "chauvinist" or "fascist" was used a generation ago. When psychiatrists diagnose the disorder, however, they do so on the basis of several specific traits.
These include a grandiose sense of self-importance, in which talents and personal achievements are vastly exaggerated; a desperate need for admiration; an almost absolute blindness to the needs and feelings of others; and continual fantasies of power, ideal love and success that far outstrip the ordinariness of many narcissists' lives.

To be sure, when deployed in a business that feeds on self-promotion and star power, such as entertainment or music, these qualities often produce just that: a star, a sensation, the sort of executive or performer who lands in a Brentwood estate with a chef and a fleet of German sports cars.

But add to this carefully cantilevered life some imperfect elements -- a demanding spouse, young kids, sluggish box office or sales -- and you can almost hear the joists creaking.

When deprived of across-the-board success in the outside world, narcissists' need for attention may turn inward, causing depression, mood swings, even exacerbating physical pain, said Marc Schoen, a UCLA School of Medicine psychologist. "And of course their pain is always much, much worse than anyone else's," he said.

Marriages often wither under such selfish complaint. Alcohol and drug problems are commonplace. Usually it's only a matter of time, therapists say, before there's trouble in the arena that's often the most gratifying, work.

"That's when they come to see someone like me," said Dr. Robert Neborsky, a San Diego therapist who specializes in difficult-to-treat patients, some 40% of whom have narcissistic tendencies, if not the whole package, he estimates.

"At some point they look around and realize that at home, and at work, everyone hates them." The narcissistic longing for admiration has brought loathing instead, and they don't know why.

As patients, they're no treat, either. Pompous one moment and solicitous the next, alternately contemptuous and then exuberantly affectionate, narcissists qualify as among the worst therapy candidates on Earth. They may know something is wrong but resist treatment so vigorously because the nature of the disorder is based on self-defense and deception of others -- even a therapist trying to help.

In his description of the condition in 1914, Sigmund Freud declared them all but uncurable. At the first hint of disappointment or challenge they might stalk out of the room. Neborsky has told patients that unless they let down their guard and stop trying to outwit him, there's nothing he can do for them.

One such patient, a 36-year-old Los Angeles rock musician named Jason, returned to Neborsky's office when he found he could no longer bear his own company. Powerful narcissistic impulses had alienated those around him, he said. He was suffering severe bouts of depression.

"I was the type of person who had to be the biggest rock star within 100 miles, and every time I turned on the radio and heard other bands it was just torture," he said. "Partly, it's the business.... The definition of narcissist should say 'lead guitarist.' "

The mask of high self-approval must crack, under the strain of some catastrophe at home or at work, before there's any plea for help, therapists say. It is the new awareness among some therapists that they must be patient and wait for pain to show itself that has helped many of them achieve success.

That reaction does not have to spill out from a welter of childhood memories; it may be connected to something that happened at work the previous week, or even in therapy.

"Often there's a break when the therapist goes on vacation, and isn't around when the person is in need," said Dr. James Grotstein, a psychoanalyst in Los Angeles. "The patient is just outraged to learn that I'm not an extension of him, or her. That's the beginning of an emotional connection."

The hot flush of shame, or anger; the heavy ache of sadness, or loss: These physical sensations themselves, expressed in the presence of a capable therapist, appear to activate areas in the brain that did not develop normally in narcissists' second year of life, said Schore.

Researchers do not know exactly why the development goes awry. Some -- in a revival of what has become an out-of-fashion point of view -- attribute the problem to parents who can't or don't properly soothe their toddler's disappointments: teaching the child, in effect, to avoid failure at all costs, rather than learning to cope with it.

Frozen in childhood?

Other theorists are convinced that parents' indulgence of their child's moods and demands freezes the boy or girl in a state of childlike grandiosity.

Either way, brain imaging studies suggest that deficits in the emotional connection between small children and their mother (or primary caregiver) appear to affect the development of right-brain areas involved in empathy and compassion. Although speculative, this notion is influential in the way some therapists think about narcissism, and places the disorder in the context of some cutting-edge research.

The evidence that a therapist can directly affect these areas of the brain in narcissists is based on studies of similarly difficult conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. In one recent experiment, for instance, researchers at UCLA did brain scans on obsessive-compulsive patients.

After 10 weeks of talk therapy, the patients improved, and the scans showed significantly reduced activity in a part of the right brain that has been linked to compulsive behavior and personality disorders, including narcissism. In another experiment, Swedish investigators reported in May that therapists induced similar changes in patients with social phobia. The very same principle is at work when narcissists are successfully engaged, Schore argues.

Certainly when an emotional connection is made, against all odds, patients become more open to practical advice they can use to regulate their behavior day to day, psychologists say. A patient learns to spot the destructive pattern as it develops and to defuse it.

"You're talking about the kind of person who might be standing in the checkout line, and suddenly have a flash of disrespect, a real hurt, because he doesn't feel he's being waited on properly--and now wants to punish someone for that," said Judith Beck, director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research in suburban Philadelphia.

One of Beck's recent patients, a retired corporate executive, was so accustomed to star treatment at work and at home that he became furious whenever he was treated normally, whether at the dry cleaner or library checkout counter. Before attending social events the man would prepare himself to be preemptively nasty toward strangers he assumed would not appreciate his specialness.

Beck had him trade those put-downs for questions: What kind of work do you do? How did you get involved in that area? "He was flabbergasted at the response," Beck said. "No one attacked him; people reacted very positively. This went a long way in changing his idea that he had to always be on guard."

Techniques like this also can help narcissists avoid outbursts at friends or family members, psychologists say. When it comes to romantic relationships in particular, many patients consider their spouse or partner as an extension of themselves, there to provide admiration and support and nothing else, said Marion Solomon, a Westwood therapist whose 1992 book "Narcissism and Intimacy" discusses techniques for resolving narcissism in couples therapy.

"Sometimes all it takes is for the wife to be late to a dinner party," she said, "and now he's yelling at her, 'How could you do this to me?'

"For the true narcissist there's no acknowledgment that this is a separate person, with their own needs and thoughts and desires. Just getting a patient to see that can make a difference in a relationship."

October 14 2002 / Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership

by Michael Maccoby

ISBN: 0767910230
ISBN-13: 9780767910231]

What is it that Oprah Winfrey, Jack Welch, Martha Stewart, and Bill Gates all have in common? According to psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant Michael Maccoby, it's not just enormous success and celebrity - it's narcissism. In The Productive Narcissist, Maccoby proposes a new paradigm of modern leadership and zeros in on one common character trait: the narcissistic personality. Challenging prevailing leadership theories, Maccoby argues that today's most innovative leaders are not consensus-building bureaucrats; they are "productive narcissists" with the interrelated set of skills - foresight, systems thinking, visioning, motivating, and partnering - that he terms "strategic intelligence." Rejecting the negative stereotype of the individual who is destroyed by a pathological preoccupation with himself, Maccoby redefines the productive narcissist as the personality type who is best suited to lead during times of rapid social and economic change. At the same time, he makes clear that narcissistic leadership doesn't always mean successful leadership and that narcissists lacking strategic intelligence are fated to crash and burn.

Publishers Weekly
In this provocative analysis of contemporary business leaders, psychoanalyst and consultant Maccoby (The Gamesman) reminds readers of Freud's assessment of the narcissist as "the type of person who impresses us as a personality, who disrupts the status quo and brings about change." Maccoby finds examples of these personalities in's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Steve Jobs and Intel's Andy Grove. For Maccoby, the difference between the common view of narcissists as self-absorbed dreamers and the more contrarian notion of their being runaway successes like Microsoft's Bill Gates lies in their realizing personal potential ("productiveness") and being endowed with "strategic intelligence" (as opposed to measurable IQ). This type of intelligence mixes foresight, systems thinking, ability to create a vision, charisma to motivate others and a genius for partnering with complementary talents that Maccoby views as critical to success in managing innovative businesses. Maccoby does acknowledge that after recent corporate upheavals, many may be wary of this type of leader. For those working with productive narcissists, he offers strategies. Business readers willing to slog through Maccoby's sometimes academic prose will learn much here. And to counter the understandable reaction against hiring narcissists as corporate leaders-most corporations would rather avoid the type, Maccoby says-there's the cautionary tale of a 1971 Human Resources report on an executive applying to become CEO of a major company in which the man's renegade tactics and irascible personality were viewed as less than desirable; the man got the job despite HR's reservations. That applicant was Jack Welch.

Customer Reviews

Maccoby Cuts Through the Leadership Literature Clutter
George Casey, Ph.D., Director of Human Resources, 06/13/2003

My home library shelves are cluttered with many of the best selling books that present varied and conflicting leadership theories. Very often, those best selling theories are presented in popular and simplistic terms that appeal to wishful thinking but are not very applicable in the workplace. Maccoby cuts through the leadership literature clutter with a very clearly reasoned and persuasively presented vision of leadership. It is a very insightful and integrated vision based on 30+ years of practical field research and experience as a consultant, anthropologist, psychologist and leadership coach. As a Director of Human Resources with 20 years of experience, I found Maccoby's description of the narcissistic leader and other personality types to be a useful aid to understanding CEOs, Presidents, Vice-President and other leaders who were difficult to relate to and eluded explanation. Maccoby's self-inventory and descriptions of Freud's and Fromm's personality types are also pragmatic tools for any managers and would be leaders who are interested in understanding themselves and in developing their ability to partner effectively with other personality types. Maccoby's elegant writing style and use of entertaining poignant illustrations from productive narcissists we know and love make his analysis of the personality types and strategic thinking entertaining, lively and dynamic... without losing sight of what is practical. What you learn from reading this book may not leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, but it is very useful.

A Dangerous Liaison
Sam Vaknin (, author of Malignant Self Love, 06/04/2003

Three stars is a compromise between the deeply flawed - and even dangerous - 'advice' offered by the author - and the impressive scholarly overview it is embedded in. The book purports to teach us how to harness this force of nature known as malignant or pathological narcissism. Narcissists are driven, visionary, ambitious, exciting and productive, says Maccoby. To ignore such a resource is a criminal waste. All we need to do is learn how to 'handle' them. As the author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited', I had the chance to work with thousands of narcissists and their victims, including in corporate settings. Maccoby's prescription is either naive or disingenuous. Narcissists cannot be 'handled' or 'managed' or 'contained' or 'channeled'. They are, by definition, incapable of team work. They lack empathy, are exploitative, envious, haughty and feel entitled, even if such a feeling is commensurate only with their grandiose fantasies. Narcissists dissemble, conspire, destroy and self-destruct. Their drive is compulsive, their vision rarely grounded in reality, their human relations a calamity. In the long run, there is no enduring benefit to dancing with narcissists - only ephemeral and, often, fallacious, 'achievements'.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Resisting Manipulation

Here is a suggestion for how to keep narcissists and other psychological manipulators from controlling you.

Never think to outsmart them or out-manipulate them. You might as well think to beat Roger Federer at tennis.

But straight thinking can help immensely.

Keep clear on this point: Your feelings are not under your control. Your conduct is. Do not let your emotions control your conduct. If you don't, you won't be manipulated.

Like a novelist, a manipulator manipulates your feelings. A novelist knows how to make you happy, sad. He knows how to put you on tenterhooks. He knows how to make you side with a certain character, even a villain. He knows how to make you desperate to see the hero get what she wants.

There are literary formulas for achieving all these things in the mind of the reader.

So, con artists, narcissists, and psychopaths aren't the only great manipulators out there. But they all manipulate by manipulating your emotions.

They CAUSE your feelings. If the situation is such that you can't keep them from abusing you at will, they control your feelings.

Bruised feelings are more sensitive feelings. So, continuing abuse gets more and more painful.

This is why it's best to get away from the narcissist. By doing so, you take away his or her power to control your emotions.

Those emotions aren't bad. In fact, they are what motivate you to put a stop to the abuse. They give you the courage to act.

Fine. But don't let those emotions do your thinking for you. They are housed in the primitive brainstem, so you can imagine what kind of bright ideas they come up with.

Not smart. Then YOU will have something to be ashamed of.

Your intellect should be in charge of your conduct.

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a masterful story of intellect and emotion battling for supremacy in this young man. His raging soliloquies are Emotion trying to make him just go murder that guy and be done with it, so that the world sees he does have a spine.

This inner battle tears him apart. The same inner battle tears the victims of narcissists apart. It's a living Hell.

But I'm sorry, but there's no way duck out of it. Many people think to do so by cheating: they just squelch their feelings.

There. Hell all gone.


That isn't the same thing as putting your intellect in control of your conduct.

What's more, these people don't really alter their feelings at all. They just delude themselves into thinking that they have controlled their feelings by repressing them. Repressed feelings aren't controlled. They are just pushed down to the level of the subconscious. And they still motivate your conduct from there.

The only difference is that now you are unaware of their influence on your conduct. So, you can't temper that influence with reason and good judgement.

That's dangerous. It's dangerous to have subconscious activity motivating your conduct!

So, there is no way to avoid this heart-rending inner battle of emotion and intellect. The psychological warfare of the narcissist has forced it on you. You are just going to have to win it.

Hamlet does. He never denies his emotions, but he also never cedes control of his conduct to his emotions. Painful as they are, his emotions are good for him. They keep him from the cowardice and treason of allowing the murder of his father by doing nothing about it. BUT, he never lets those emotions call the shots. His intellect steadfastly chooses to bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to do justice, putting the black hat on Claudius and the white hat on himself for the whole world to see. And when that opportunity arrives (at the end), Hamlet acts without hesitation as the legal Seat of Justice in the land.

Justice. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum!

The famous saying was coined by Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, a Roman statesman and Julius Caesar's father-in-law.

It is usually translated as "Though the heavens fall, let justice be done!" Although to a native speaker of Latin the sense would be "To hell with heaven, let justice be done!" Or in another sense: "To hell with celebrities, let justice be done!"

Kathleen Krajco

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The problem is all about him - Me?

By Jack L Key

These past weeks have been bad ones for campus shootings, killings and other proposed mayhem by “students”. A teenager’s “arsenal” confiscated in one such incident was large enough to arm an entire school. A black-dominated school in Philadelphia became a shooting gallery. We should stop explaining killers on their terms. It's not about guns or culture. It's narcissism, and my life's long odyssey has provided plenty of examples for my inquiring mind.

From the chill dawn outside the Florida prison where serial killer Ted Bundy met his end, to the charred façade of a New York nightclub where Julio Gonzalez incinerated 87 people. On to a muddy Colorado hillside overlooking the Columbine High School where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wrought their own brand of mayhem. Along the way, I've come to believe that we're looking for "why" in all the wrong places.

I've lost interest in the cracks, chips, holes and broken places in the lives of men like Cho Seung-Hui, the mass murderer of Virginia Tech. The pain, grievances and self-pity of mass killers are only symptoms of the real explanation. Those who do those things have one common trait. They are all raging narcissists. "I died--like Jesus Christ," Cho said in a video sent to NBC.

Psychologists from South Africa to Chicago have begun to recognize that extreme self-centeredness is the forest in these stories, and all the other things--guns, games, lyrics, pornography, bullying, ridicule--are just trees. To list the traits of the narcissist is enough to prove the point: grandiosity, numbness to the needs and pain of others, emotional isolation, resentment and envy.

In interviews with Ted Bundy taped a quarter-century ago, two investigative reporters captured the essence of homicidal narcissism. Through hour after tedious hour, a man who killed 30 or more women and girls preened for his audience. He spoke of himself as an actor, of life as a series of roles and of other people as props and scenery. His desires were simple: "control" and "mastery". He took whatever he wanted, from shoplifted tube socks to human lives, because nothing mattered beyond his desires. Bundy said he was always surprised that anyone noticed his victims had vanished. "I mean, there are so many people," he explained. The only death he regretted was his own.

Criminologists distinguish between serial killers like Bundy, whose crimes occur one at a time and who try hard to avoid capture, and mass killers like Cho. But the central role of narcissism plainly connects them. Only a narcissist could decide that his alienation should be underlined in the blood of strangers.

The flamboyant nature of these crimes is like a neon sign pointing to the truth. Charles Whitman playing God in his Texas clock tower, James Huberty spraying bullets in a California restaurant, Columbine's Harris and Klebold in their theatrical trench coats--they're all stars in the movie of their self-absorbed minds.

Freud explained narcissism as a failure to grow up. All infants are narcissists, he pointed out, but as we grow, we ought to learn that other people have lives independent of our own. It's not their job to please us, applaud for us or even notice us--let alone die because we're unhappy.

A generation ago, social critics diagnosed narcissism as the signal disorder of contemporary American culture. The cult of celebrity, the marketing of instant gratification, skepticism toward moral codes and the politics of victimhood were signs of a society regressing toward the infant stage.

You don't have to buy Freud or the social critic's indictments, however, to see an immediate danger in the way we examine the lives of mass killers and campus murderers. In the days after Columbine for example, Harris and Klebold emerged as alienated misfits in the jock culture of their suburban high school. We learned about their morbid taste in music and their violent video games. Missing though, was the frame around the picture; the extreme narcissism that licensed these boys, in their minds, to murder their high school teachers and classmates.

Something similar was going on with Virginia Tech's Cho, whose florid writings and videos were an almanac of gripes. "I'm so lonely," he moped to a teacher, failing to mention that he often refused to answer even when people said hello. Of course he was lonely.

In Holocaust studies, I'm told, there is a school of thought that says to explain is to forgive. I won't go that far. But we must stop explaining campus killers on their terms. Minus the clear context of narcissism, the biographical details of these men and boys can begin to look like a plausible chain of cause and effect--especially to other narcissists. And they don't need any more encouragement.

What the Columbine child killers needed, some suggest, was for someone to listen to them. This is the narcissist's view of narcissism: everything would be fine if only he received more attention. The real problem can be found in the killer's own bathroom mirror.


Jack L Key writes feature articles and mainstream commentary on selected topics. He is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, a published author and a freelance writer. He may be reached at:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Adrenaline Junkie

Narcissistic Supply is exciting. When it is available, the narcissist feels elated, omnipotent, omniscient, handsome, sexy, adventurous, invincible, and irresistible. When it is missing, the narcissist first enters a manic phase of trying to replenish his supply and, if he fails, the narcissist shrivels, withdraws and is reduced to a zombie-like state of numbness.

Some people – and all narcissists – are addicted to excitement, to the adrenaline rush, to the danger inevitably and invariably involved. They are the adrenaline junkies. All narcissists are adrenaline junkies – but not all adrenaline junkies are narcissists.

Narcissistic Supply is the narcissist's particular sort of thrill. Deficient Narcissistic Supply is tantamount to the absence of excitement and thrills in non-narcissistic adrenaline junkies.

Originally, in early childhood, Narcissistic Supply is meant to help the narcissist regulate his volatile sense of self-worth and self-esteem. But Narcissistic Supply, regardless of its psychodynamic functions, also simply feels good. The narcissist grows addicted to the gratifying effects of Narcissistic Supply. He reacts with anxiety when constant, reliable provision is absent or threatened.

Thus, Narcissistic Supply always comes with excitement, on the one hand and with anxiety on the other hand.

When unable to secure "normal" Narcissistic Supply – adulation, recognition, fame, celebrity, notoriety, infamy, affirmation, or mere attention – the narcissist resorts to "abnormal" Narcissistic Supply. He tries to obtain his drug – the thrills, the good feeling that comes with Narcissistic Supply – by behaving recklessly, by succumbing to substance abuse, or by living dangerously.

Such narcissists – faced with a chronic state of deficient Narcissistic Supply – become criminals, or race drivers, or gamblers, or soldiers, or investigative journalists. They defy authority. They avoid safety, routine and boredom – no safe sex, no financial prudence, no stable marriage or career. They become peripatetic, change jobs, or lovers, or vocations, or avocations, or residences, or friendships often.

But sometimes even these extreme and demonstrative steps are not enough. When confronted with a boring, routine existence – with a chronic and permanent inability to secure Narcissistic Supply and excitement – these people compensate by inventing thrills where there are none.

They become paranoid, full of delusional persecutory notions and ideas of reference. Or they develop phobias – fear of flying, of heights, of enclosed or open spaces, of cats or spiders. Fear is a good substitute to the excitement they so crave and that eludes them.

Anxiety leads to the frenetic search for Narcissistic Supply. Obtaining the supply causes a general – albeit transient – sense of wellbeing, relief and release as the anxiety is alleviated. This cycle is addictive.

But what generates the anxiety in the first place? Are people born adrenaline junkies or do they become ones?

No one knows for sure. It may be genetically determined. We may discover one day that adrenaline junkies, conditioned by defective genes, develop special neural and biochemical paths, an unusual sensitivity to adrenaline. Or, it may indeed be the sad outcome of abuse and trauma during the formative years. The brain is plastic and easily influenced by recurrent bouts of capricious and malicious treatment.

Sam Vaknin

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Look Me in the Eye

Caryl Wyatt, Anita le Roux

“One of the best personal odyssey stories I have ever read”
Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love

“This is a story that I will never forget”
Alison, author of I Have Life

Love addiction is every bit as addictive as any narcotic; ask me, I have been there. I knew I couldn’t stay in an unhappy, abusive and destructive marriage. I didn’t just love my husband; I was obsessed with him. I believed that if I stayed and loved him enough, he would change—but I was wrong. All addictions escalate and can result in death—mine was no different. Broken bones and a broken heart, private clinics and prison, would not stop me from going back, time and again for more of the same. I falsely believed I was powerless to leave. Out on the street with no money, without work and nowhere to go, after a failed third marriage, I didn’t make the choice to leave—but I did make the choice to survive. I chose to learn and understand the nature of domestic violence, its root and its cure. All addictions are ‘one day at a time’ journeys to recovery—join me on mine.


Love doesn’t hurt

Caryl’s story is hard hitting and powerful, writes Annette Bayne

Look Me in the Eye is a window into the private prison of an abusive relationship.
With bars made of silence, guilt, fear and powerlessness. Yet it is also a remarkable journey of forgiveness that doesn’t end on the last page, but leaves the reader with hope, watching Caryl take the next steps into a more positive future.
Having finished the book I was able to meet up with Caryl Wyatt a little further down that road to discuss writing the book. We were joined by Anita le Roux, the co- writer of this remarkable story.
It is hard to imagine that this beautiful, confident artist was stuck in the vicious dance that goes on between the co-dependent and the narcissist.
This is not an easy book to read, Wyatt is brutally honest and hard on herself. “Many people have said I was too hard on myself,” she says, “but this was about taking responsibility for my life, there was no space for watering anything down, addiction (which is what this was) is not nice and I had to say it how it was”.
Although she details the tremendous domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of two husbands, this is primarily her story and the book is more about accepting her shortcomings and mistakes and becoming the women she is today than passing blame. She doesn’t tell the stories of her children, friends or husbands and believes those are for them to tell.
Writing this story was an eight month journey for Wyatt and le Roux and the closeness of their relationship is tangible. The story is so well understood by le Roux, that at no time in the book did I hear any other voice than Wyatt’s.
Le Roux was often responsible for reigning Wyatt’s thoughts and challenging what she had to say. For le Roux the book involved the difficult process of being both detached in order to avoid subjectivity, and engaged. “The book was an amazing healing journey for me” she admits “One never heals alone and I had to deal with my own personal baggage in order to write this story”.
“It was my story, at no time did Anita interpret the story in her own way,” Wyatt agrees.
“Writing the book was a very rewarding experinece, I was able to take back the parts of my life that I had lost.” .
If one believes the statistics, domestic violence affects at least a quarter of the South African female population, but because it so often shrouded in silence there is a lack of understanding for those who return time and again. Perhaps Wyatt’s story will open some of the tightly closed doors surrounding abuse, giving people a better understanding of the relationship between the abused and the abuser.
Due to the nature of story, it is a very personal read and and I think that one’s response would be determined by one’s own experience and understanding of abuse. But I know it is not a book I would loan to friend, I would buy them a copy of their own.,1,22

Monday, October 15, 2007

Love - it's not all about you

Globe and Mail

We were seated in a restaurant that had big barrels of peanuts and bowls of lollipops by the door. It was our neighbourhood haunt, where families routinely took their kids on a Friday night.

My three boys, then in the blur years, ranging in age from 6 to 11, rarely sat still. But they were now, and so were our friends' children, for the half hour it took to eat their chicken wings and fries.

As soon as they were finished, up they got all at once, like a flock of geese, and took off to the back where the video games were.

Adult conversation ensued. My friend was talking about a weekend trip she was about to take to New York.

"And David agreed," she said with some pride, explaining that she was going to leave her husband with their four children in Toronto while she went on a Prada hunt.

"I bargained with him."

She allowed a pause.

I leaned forward. "And he gets?"

"Three blow jobs whenever he wants them," she informed us, laughing.

Her husband, a Bay Street financial type, smiled sheepishly from across the messy table.

Such is life in the picture-perfect world of tony Rosedale, I thought to myself. It's all about what you have (or appear to have) and what you get.

Later, when we got home, my husband said he thought this kind of contractual arrangement was a cool solution to marital happiness.

I won't say this was the beginning of the end of our marriage - there were far more serious issues - but it did make me wonder: Is all love contractual? And can a marriage last if it is?

If we were honest, we would admit that romantic love begins with some narcissistic intent.

"Darling," you might say, if you dared to be honest. "When I look deeply into your eyes, I see my new Audi."

And it doesn't have to be just a material gain on offer. I often hear my single friends say about a prospective partner, "He's not what I need." Do we seek a partner who will fit our lifestyle, like the perfect sofa, where we can relax after a long day at work?

It's also about finding someone who serves as a flattering mirror. One great dating story came from a young woman I know who was speaking about her sister. "She went out with this guy she really liked. They ordered pizza. When his slice arrived, he folded it into a wedge, like an envelope, and ate it in his hands. For her, that was it. No more dates."

If you were with a pizza folder, what would that say about you? That you have questionable standards? That you wear day-old underwear? That you aspire to live in an Ajax, Ont., suburb and drive a gas-guzzling pollution-mobile?

Lynn Darling, in a well-known essay called For Better and Worse, first published in Esquire magazine in 1996, expressed the narcissism of marriage best: "I married the man I married because I liked his version of myself better than my own. ... I was pleased by the person I saw reflected in his eyes."

Even Sigmund Freud understood the subconscious exchange of what one partner gives to the other. In his 1914 paper On Narcissism: An Introduction, the famous psychoanalyst mused about the nature of romantic love. He believed that falling in love is a self-sustaining redeployment of energy.

It's about giving in order to get.

Love is an extension of erotic energy - Dr. Freud used the term "libido" - to another person, an action that depletes the narcissistic investment in one's own ego. Having love returned, however, restores one's self-regard.

Sorry, but the love I like to contemplate and which I think sustains true relationships is more selfless.

And that's where Phil Reinders comes in. He is a pastor at First Church, a Christian Reformed Church in Calgary. A 44-year-old father of two children, he wrote me an e-mail recently about lessons from his own 20-year marriage.

"Marriage is about growing us up, a context designed not only for our happiness but also for our emotional/spiritual formation. I'm learning to see marriage, loving another person, as a call to serve that person. I think when I got married, I was mostly thinking, 'What am I going to get out of the deal?' instead of, 'How am I called to give myself selflessly?' or 'How can I serve my spouse instead of first thinking about how she can serve me and my agenda?' I got married with some incredibly self-absorbed notions. And in marriage, I have experienced a dead end ... but I have found it to be the end of my self-absorbed heart."

In conversation, when I phoned him, he elaborated on his idea of marital love by calling it "a covenantal relationship - a sense that you enter into it not for yourself but for the other's best interests. It is very different from a contractual relationship."

The closest I have come to this kind of powerful love is with my children. The desire to have babies may begin with some narcissistic intent. I used to think of raising them as a way to perpetuate my philosophy. It's hard, at the start, not to think of each as a version of mini-me, especially when others exclaim how this one has his mother's eyes, that one has his father's mouth.

But soon, and especially when they grow to become fascinating young adults, you see how expansive that unconditional love is. They might get tattoos you hate. They don't always follow the career path you envisioned for them. They may even fold their pizza slices. They make mistakes. Sometimes, they embarrass you.

But you adore them through it all. And you learn the most beautiful lesson about love: that it is about allowing that beloved to become the individual he or she needs to be.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Who are you?

Henley Morgan
The Jamaica Observer
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Over the long history of humankind there have been breakthroughs in thinking, the genius of which is astounding. Consider for instance some of the 19th century scientific ideas that continue to influence social, cultural and intellectual practices today. The cell theory of life, the germ theory of disease and the gene theory of inheritance are perceived to be active dimensions of reality; as if they are laws established by God himself.

The groundbreaking work in the field of psychology dealing with the origins and development of human personality is especially profound. Some of the names whose contributions have entered the common vocabulary are Carl Gustav Jung (introversion and extroversion), Alfred Adler (inferiority and superiority complexes), and Sigmund Freud (id, ego and superego).

Personality is intriguing because unlike skin colour, height or facial features it is not obvious to the eyes. As one journeys through life, one is attracted to a variety of personalities. Often it is only upon living with, working for or in some other intimate way relating to an individual that one comes to know or get a measure of the true personality. Since people do not wear a label identifying themselves by their personality type, it is helpful to at least be aware of the "truths" revealed by the work of geniuses who spent a
lifetime studying the relationship between a person's inward psychological makeup and his or her outward behaviour.
While Freud recognised that there are an almost infinite number of personality types, he identified three main ones. These are the erotic, the obsessive and the narcissistic personality.

In identifying the erotic personality, Freud did not generally mean a sexual personality, but rather one for whom loving and being loved is most important. The behaviour and feelings of people with this type of personality are to a degree dependent on those they fear may stop loving them. As leaders (whether in the home, in business or in government), they are caring and supportive but they tend to avoid conflict. At their most productive they are developers of those who would not otherwise make it; and are enablers and helpers at work. At their least productive, they tolerate "foolishness" with the resulting drift towards mediocrity. Freud classified such people as being outer-directed.

By contrast, people with an obsessive personality are inner-directed. They make sure instructions and standards are followed, and may become agitated by people who will not adapt to change or circumstances that are allowed to drift aimlessly. The most productive obsessives set high standards, communicate in a direct fashion, and are therefore strong mentors and team players. The least productive and uncooperative may lack the passion and charisma it takes to turn a good idea into a great one or to give people a "mountain-top" experience. These tend to become narrow experts and rule-bound bureaucrats.

Narcissists have big personalities, are egotistical and driven by personal (some would say selfish) ambition. These characteristics make them passionate achievers and good at breaking new ground, even if unable to hold territory once taken. Narcissism has a dark side. People with this personality type tend to be insecure and emotionally isolated, even at the point of success. Perceived threats can trigger rage. Often bordering on paranoia, the narcissist is continually on the lookout for enemies even when there is none. Achievements can fuel feelings of grandiosity and self-adulation. They want to be admired even more than to be loved. Freud named this personality type after the mythical figure Narcissus who died because of his preoccupation with himself.
It is unlikely anyone reading this will see himself or herself as a narcissist although we can each readily identify someone who is. For people in leadership positions, one of the tell-tale signs is the individual who surrounds himself or herself with a small band of sycophants, wimps and lackeys who in turn feed off the narcissist's insecurities, like maggots feeding off a rotting corpse. To people looking on, the mutual and often fatal attraction is embarrassingly evident.

People do not fit neatly into the categories. We all have demons, the exorcism of which must be part of a deliberate improvement plan. It is important that in assessing and coming to a reality of who we really are, we be guided by the admonition: "To thine own self be true".

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Women and Sacrifice

Male Narcissism and the Psychology of Religion

by William Beers

ISBN-10: 0814323774
ISBN-13: 978-0814323779

About the book

Women and Sacrifice is an original and lucid book that explores the anthropology and developmental psychology of male violence in blood sacrifice and its implications in religion and culture. It is the first comprehensive study of the psychology of gender and religion using the controversial ideas of Heinz Kohut and self-psychology.

Beers not only makes an important contribution to our psychological understanding of sacrifice, he explores how narcissistic anxiety fuels rituals and social structures that subordinate women. He bases his provocative theory on three general premises: sacrifice is traditionally performed only by men; the gender specificity of sacrifice can be traced to gender-specific developments of men and women and is reflected in religions throughout the world; and the male violence of sacrifice is related to other forms of male violence. Beers develops the theory that such rituals have a psychological function that diminishes and controls women.


"The book is to my knowledge unique in applying the insights of the self-psychology movement in psychoanalysis to sacrifice and is an excellent illustration of the applied value of that controversial psychoanalytic theory." — Ernest Wallwork, Syracuse University

Friday, October 12, 2007

Review - Coping with Infuriating, Mean, Critical People

The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern
by Nina W. Brown
Praeger, 2006
Review by Aakash Singh, Ph.D.

I was attracted to the book, as any potential reader might be, because of its catchy title: Coping with Infuriating, Mean, Critical People -- Oh, do I know so many of them! I thought I had come across a book that would, as the title suggests, teach me how to cope with these people. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The reason this was not the case is to be found in the subtitle: The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern. That is, the book actually teaches us how to cope with people who exhibit the so-called destructive narcissistic pattern; such people tend to be infuriating, mean, and critical. However, not all infuriating, mean, and critical people can be said to exhibit the destructive narcissistic pattern; there are a myriad of other reasons why people might possess those nasty traits. Thus, the catchy title is evidently overbroad, and consequently somewhat misrepresentative of the book's actual scope and content.

The author or publisher may find the term "misrepresentative" far too strong. They may argue that, after all, the subtitle is there to narrow or define the wide scope implied through the main title. This is a plausible argument, but it itself grants that the subtitle is thus absolutely essential to the title in order for the title not to be misleading for potential readers. And this, precisely, is the main problem: the subtitle is toned down on the spine of the book cover; it is toned way down on the front cover; and, it is not even present on the first title page within the book. I am not at all suggesting that the playing down of the subtitle is evidence of deliberate misrepresentation on the part of the publisher. Far from it. But I am stating that I was indeed misled by the title, and, generalizing from there, that the title is in fact somewhat misleading.

But enough about that. There still may be plenty of interest in the topic that the book does cover, that is, coping with the people who exhibit the destructive narcissistic pattern, or DNP. Let us first address what the author means by DNP.

DNP is not a full-fledged psychological disorder or syndrome (it does not appear in the DSM-IV, for example), but rather a pattern of behavior. It is not defined by one particular trait, but rather by a cluster of likely characteristics. The author provides the following list as indicative characteristics of a DNP (24-25):

* Extensions of self and boundaries
* Exploitation
* Lack of empathy
* Grandiosity
* The impoverished self
* Attention-seeking
* Admiration-seeking
* Shallow emotions
* Emptiness
* Entitlement

The destructive narcissist need not exhibit all ten of these traits in order to exhibit a DNP, and people may exhibit some or even several of these traits without necessarily being a destructive narcissist. This makes it particularly difficult to know whether we even ought to conclude that a person exhibits a DNP, not to mention figuring out how to cope with him or her. Thus, over half the book (chapters 1-5) is devoted to exhaustively defining, describing, and explaining the nature and effects of a DNP, including several rating scales/questionnaires, as well as copious examples and anecdotes -- all this as preparatory to the task of learning how to deal with destructive narcissists (chapters 6-9). The rating scales consist of a series of questions that you should answer with the potential DNP person's behavior in mind. The author then provides you with an explanation for how to tally up the score derived from your answers at the end, et voila, you have a good basis upon which to decide what sort of person you are really dealing with. The rating scales include: Perception of Attitudes and Behavior Scale Related to a Destructive Narcissistic Pattern (6); Lingering Grandiosity Scale (64); Admiration-Seeking Behavior Scale (70); and, Center of Attention Rating Scale (78). It's quite fun to run oneself through the grinder and find out just how grandiose or admiration-seeking one really is.

Speaking of turning the scales to oneself, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is how the author concentrates on the reader's need to turn his or her attention inward, as an essential ingredient to coping with the DNP of others. Since the destructive narcissist is unlikely to change him or herself, and since, at any rate, it is highly unlikely that we can do anything to force a change in his or her behavior, it becomes necessary that we look at our own behavior, at the reactions evoked in us by the actions of a person exhibiting DNP. Our own behavior, reactions, feelings are far more pliable for us than those of others. As the author writes, "it becomes empowering to realize that there are actions you can take that will help to reduce or eliminate negative effects [of the DNP] on you" (ix).

The nine chapters that constitute the body of the work are preceded by a very brief, three-paragraph Preface, where the author explains why she is bringing out another book on the topic after her earlier assay on the subject, very appropriately entitled The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern (1998), and succeeded by an even shorter Bibliography, with only four entries not written by the author herself, which serves to illustrate just how little treatment the topic of DNP has received by psychologists and researchers.

What one gleans from the body of the work as well as from the front and back matter is that the author, Nina Brown, is clearly the authority on the DNP. Thus, if you have to interact regularly with someone you suspect may exhibit DNP, then this is without a doubt the book you should read for help. If, however, you are seeking for help in coping with infuriating, mean, and critical people in general, then carry on searching, because that is not the subject of the book under review.

© 2007 Aakash Singh
Aakash Singh (Reader in Philosophy, University of Delhi, South Campus)

Published in Metapsychology Online Reviews

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jekyll & Hyde


To the outside world [narcissists] wear a mask, happy and charming, descriptions of narcissistic personality disorder don't begin describe the things that thier victims are stunned and confused in daily interaction with narcissists.

The victim is kept off balance, the narcissist displayed his false self in the beginning, (charming phase to gain the trust of victim) now starts the D&D phase (devalue and discard), in the beginning small devaluing comments and eventually cruel and heartless manipulations. They are absolutely the world's best manipulators, liars, and fabricators of truth. They do so convincingly because they believe their own lies.

Victims often view it as this poor soul just needs to see more empathy since the narcissist has manipulated them from the start with claims that they have been helpful to others in past and were victims in the end, so they are not trusting and helpful now. It's often the supply's good qualities that the narcissist sadly uses against them.

After an episode of devaluing, they quickly reel into reverse, they manipulate you to feel sorry for them again, they turn on charm and suck you right back in to regain your trust, the word "sorry" does not exist in their vocabulary because empathy does not exist in their world, they have no remorse, because people are merely objects to use, devalue and discard. Eventually they feel bored and create more drama, the emotional roller coaster ride for the victim starts all over again.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Narcissism and Addiction

In our attempt to decipher the human psyche (in itself a mere construct, not an ontological entity), we have come up with two answers:

I. That behaviors, moods, emotions, and cognitions are wholly reducible to biochemical reactions and neural pathways in the brain. This medicalization of what it is to be human is inevitably hotly contested.

II. That behaviors, moods, emotions, and cognitions can be explained and predicted by the introduction of "scientific" theories based on primary concepts. Psychoanalysis is an early - and now widely disregarded - example of such an approach to human affairs.

The concepts of "addiction" and "(pathological) narcissism" were introduced to account for oft-recurring amalgams of behaviors, moods, emotions, and cognitions. Both are organizing, exegetic principles with some predictive powers. Both hark back to Calvinist and Puritan strands of Protestantism where excess and compulsion (inner demons) were important topics.

Yet, though clearly umbilically connected, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, addictive behaviors and narcissistic defenses also differ in critical ways.

When addicts engage in addictive behaviors, they seek to change their perception of their environment. As the alcoholic Inspector Morse says, once he had consumed his single Malts, "the world looks a happier place". Drugs make the things look varicolored, brighter, more hopeful, and fun-filled.

In contrast, the narcissist needs narcissistic supply to regulate his inner universe. Narcissists care little about the world out there, except as an ensemble of potential and actual sources of narcissistic supply. The narcissist's drug of choice - attention - is geared to sustain his grandiose fantasies and senses of omnipotence and omniscience.

Classical addiction - to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or to other compulsive behaviors - provides the addict with an exoskeleton: boundaries, rituals, timetables, and order in an otherwise chaotically disintegrating universe.

Not so for the narcissist.

Admittedly, like the addict's search for gratification, the narcissist's pursuit of narcissistic supply is frenetic and compulsive and ever-present. Yet, unlike the addict's, it is not structured, rigid, or ritualistic. On the contrary, it is flexible and inventive. Narcissism, in other words, is an adaptive behavior, albeit one that has outlived its usefulness. Addiction is merely self-destructive and has no adaptive value or reason.

Finally, at heart, all addicts are self-destructive, self-defeating, self-loathing, and even suicidal. In other words: addicts are predominantly masochists. Narcissists, in contrast, are sadists and paranoids. They lapse into masochism only when their narcissistic supply runs hopelessly dry. The narcissist's masochism is aimed at restoring his sense of (moral) superiority (as a self-sacrificial victim) and to prod him into a renewed effort to reassert himself and hunt for new sources of narcissistic supply.

Thus, while the addict's brand of masochism is nihilistic and suicidal - the narcissist's masochism is about self-preservation.

Sam Vaknin