Malignant Narcissism

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Scent of Cedar *, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    There is such a thing as malignant narcissism. The link below is well and clearly written, describing incident after incident having to do with what it is that fuels the belief systems and behaviors of malignant narcissists. There is story after story of inheritances stolen, and of money stolen; of reputations ruined, of children groomed to be hurt and on and on it goes. control

    I am forever wondering what the "win" could be in so much of what happens between members of my Family of Origin.

    This link describes those motivations and relationships well.

    According to this writer too, the behaviors of the malignant narcissist do not change.

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  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wow. How horrible. While my parents, mother especially, had problems and meanness, she wasn't THAT way. She was just, well, mean to me. Think of "Mommie Dearest." I was the Christopher in FOO. She decided he w as bad so he sometimes acted out and then she pointed out that she was right. Watching that movie really hit a note with me and Joan Crawford in that movie sort of looked like her too. She was pretty (my mother) when she dressed up, which was almost never.

    Thanks for the info. Like you, Cedar, I learned early in life that "if it looks too good to be true, it is" and to mistrust charmers who like attention, realizing that these are dangerous traits to have...they draw people to them only to perp on them and maybe steal their money or get violent. My mom may not have been THAT bad and the rest of my small family may have at least not tried to take my things (not that I had much to take), but they taught me that what people say is not always true and how they behave could be an act.

    Maybe that's why I prefer those I know I already know I can trust. It's tiring to find out if you can or if you can't.

    Thanks again, dear friend.
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is the diagnosis bandied about by the press for Donald Trump.

    I watched the debate last night. I reference it not to discuss politics but to illustrate a dynamic by example. I am thinking about the dynamic between Trump and Jeb Bush which seems to center upon Trump humiliating Jeb Bush by a contest about manhood. Trump engages in a peeing contest. Until last night Bush seemed stunned, a deer in the headlights, rendered a eunich in response to Trump's bullying.

    Bush finally said to Trump: You cannot insult your way to the presidency, Donald. And still, Trump did not stop. He upped his game. You're real tough. Mocking him. You have 3 percent. I have 41.

    Bush shook his head but remained clear and centered. To Bush, you cannot win by killing off anybody. By hate. To Bush the win is the solving of a problem, the well-being of a family or nation, or a class of people within it.

    Except Donald Trump can and does win. Because for Trump the win is about himself. Because to him the only thing that matters is that he is the last one standing or the tallest one standing. Absolute power. More money. More attention. The diminishing of others who seek to attack him. Fending off evil foes, and destroying them.

    I think that is what mystifies us about our families.

    The two worldviews are incompatible. One seeks to amass power or stuff or attention by competition.

    The other seeks to construct. Make sense. Communicate. Create. Understand.

    How could we ever understand if we keep looking through our own lens, at their behavior. There is no win, if the win is defined as to create or to construct. Something that benefits all. But that is not their aim.

    I believe they aim to compete by any means necessary, and their win is only for that which they covet: money, stuff, attention, power.

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    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member



  5. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    I see this in the behavior of the woman who now runs the non profit I was involved with. She and her husband care not how they treat other people. How they "win". Outrageous statements, bully tactics and slander.

    The thing that gets me, is how these types of aggressive, self serving people, are able to fool others. How could anyone, confidently vote for them?
    I will never stop wondering about that......

    Yay Copa, you are here!
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    They know when to pour on the charm, and who to pour it on for. If you're not on the "charmed list", then you see the other side... but the "charmed" do not get shown that side.
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I am thinking IC is right. It isn't so much that most of us are foolish as it is that we believe everyone is like us. Even if we believe ourselves to have seen something out of place, we of course give the benefit of the doubt. I had posted that my sister was able to elicit money from the passenger beside her on a four hour airplane ride. She has accomplished other truly extraordinary things, too. It has to do with confidence and assessing the ~ I don't know. The other person's emotional makeup, maybe. My sister is funny and really bright, and she is very attractive, too. That is part of it, but there is a willingness to...sort of a feeling of entitlement.

    I don't know.

    It must be that there is a fine line, or a continuum maybe, between healthy narcissism, where we think well of ourselves and everyone else too, and unhealthy to downright malignant narcissism. In one of the things I read this morning, the consensus was that we need to really get it that we are not going to change our people that we love who behave this way. There are very few people they do not hurt. The movie Ordinary People was cited. The mother in that movie (played by Mary Tyler Moore) was a malignant narcissist. The best thing for us to do if we recognize that we are being victimized repeatedly by someone, and we begin to wonder whether this could be our situation, is exactly as Serenity had recommended: Total cut off. No cheating; no checking their Facebook or making ourselves vulnerable to them in any way. If there are people who behave like this in our families, we will become healthier the longer we are away from them, and we will become sad and confused and unclear about ourselves again if we see them or have anything at all to do with them.

    It was suggested that for our own sakes, we learn to hold them away from us with compassion. Their internal realities are frightening in ways we cannot understand. So, that would be where the quote about praying for their peace and therein finding our own can be helpful to us.

    I am thinking that is because it is easy to love someone we call our mother or sister or brother. FOO Chronicles is about recovering from loving those who hurt us, if you think about it.

    We must have been very strong to survive it. We will have been left with trust issues, and with perfectionism ~ less to make ourselves perfect than to protect ourselves from the malignant mother, who will have taught us not that we all make mistakes, but that we are incapable of not making mistakes. That will be a dynamic for us, I think. We will not be able to believe we are able to succeed at anything that matters to us. That will have happened, I think. Our locus of control with be external, and not internal.

    I am supposed to be baking, you guys.

  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, no conTact was never my idea. I shunned nobody. Its cruel.

    Having said that, I am finding the shun to me an asset to me. I am better without them. But it was not me who did it.

    Again, having said that for me absolutely not incloding them in my life or thoughts is best and took a weight off my shoulders, I will see them once more... when my dear father passes, but I will be with family nembers and not come early nor stay a moment after I paid my respects. Then we will not see one another ever again. I doubt well even know where each other lives.

    I am plain done with people who want to think the worst of me.

    Anyhow, I am not one of them... I feel like an only child and to avoid explaining, will t ell people I meet that I am an only child. I did not survive an accident to worry about those who are mean and,I feel, want to hurt me on purpose.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Try to think of it this way, Cedar. Of a lock and key. Your sister sees herself as a key to a lock. The lock stands in the way of which she wants. The win is getting it.

    There are people whose payoff is giving. Not because of their intrinsic goodness (which may be true) but because of a need to feel superior, or advantaged or special or good about about themselves.

    By finding "deserving" recipients, these people feel "good". These people are looking for recipients that make them feel good about themselves. How much does it "cost" emotionally to help somebody, a stranger you meet on the plane? No commitment of time. Or effort. No relationship what so ever.

    Your sister has no trouble accessing the benefits that these people can provide. She thinks nothing of presenting herself in whatever way will unlock the door to what she seeks.

    She can present herself as pretty, charming, funny, and needy, if this paves the way to what she wants. It is purely instrumental. The giving too is instrumental. A way to feel one is good and doing good.

  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    If I look back on my life, I am encouraged to feel the same about painful events, based upon Serenity's example.

    There is the incident about being gossiped about, that any position or esteem I achieved was accrued as the bosses girlfriend (which I was not) as a favor. And the boss cut me loose. A betrayal.

    There were many people who were envious of me. Or jealous. I was singled out by the boss for my excellence, for my work ethic, for my ethics generally, because he knew me to be extraordinarily committed to those for whom I was responsible. Including to him.

    I was never suited to the killing and abusive atmosphere in which I worked, and I stood out like a jewel in a cesspool, attracting the spears of others.

    Yet my self-concept never incorporated an owning of my gifts. Nor did I own how others would feel about themselves in comparison to me. I needed to either get tougher or to better insulate myself. Or leave the environment. I did none of these things.

    These 3 fallow years may have prepared me to better anticipate the cruelties of life, and to care for myself better, the person I really am, not the person I should be.

    The person I am should not have worked in that kind of environment.
    Yes. If people do not have it in them to appreciate us, we need to appreciate ourselves, which means valuing ourselves enough to care and protect. To leave.
    And I did not survive these past 3 years to continue to submit to the worldview of others, which I have habit. I can change.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am not sure about this.

    I will speak for myself here. I could not understand how my sister could act as she did towards my mother. And I.

    For example, the most inconsequential of the things she did:

    How could she extract money from my for the safekeeping of my stuff, knowing she had taken half of it, lost another part and trashed much of the rest?

    I would not do such a thing, and if I did I would feel guilty, not justified.

    My sister, I feel certain, felt that anything she did to cause me to feel a sense of loss would be justified because of her anger at me, her anger at her life and to restore a sense of equity between us. A pay back. She would feel entitled to do these things, because she had the power to do so. She does it if she can.

    It all boils down to power over for her. One does to another what is justified by one's self-interest and emotional needs. There seems to be no abstract principle at work except self-gratification and fear. I recall a graduate class I began in Moral Development many years ago but did not complete. There are stages of moral development that parallel Piaget's cognitive stages of development. By no means do all people reach the highest stage. If I think of it my sister may not have gone far beyond the stage of conventional morality where one keeps up appearances and what is hidden is not considered to count. She may or may not have an internalized moral code based upon abstract values other than what benefits her.

    What I am saying here is that it is not just that people may be different than us. They may view the same world with an entirely different lens, and apply different criteria. And this changes everything they see and feel.

    That is why we are in such danger in relation to them. They really do not see us and them in anything like we do. They might not feel the same feelings as we do. Empathy may not exist. Our empathy for them, renders us vulnerable, and greatly at a disadvantage to them, and greatly distorts the playing field.

    At the end of the day, we have to find empathy ourselves. To not keep judging ourselves as remiss for failing in relation to them. Painfully, some of us may be in the same position relative to our children. A far greater hurt.

  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    I had not thought of this regarding my two, but I think this is correct. They seem to have no empathy, and I suppose drug use does create a selfish narcissistic lifestyle, nothing else matters but the next high. How they get it, does not matter. I am something in the way of that. I have love and empathy for my d c's, they certainly do not reciprocate. So, how does one deal with that?

  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Loving detachment.

    In my experience this is very hard. Because there is so much loss involved, there is the tendency to blame, to make somebody bad. Like pin the tail on the donkey. Either ourselves or them. I think this is because the expectation is that we are giving and loving, and when we fall short, in our own eyes, let alone theirs, it is hard to not blame somebody.

    I think loving detachment requires that one achieve a certain neutrality. Getting control over our wanting. What Cedar calls ''steady state." Open to what is. Rather than what we wanted or would want.

  14. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    We cannot become like them, or we lose our own self also.
    But we cannot let them come to close, or they will hurt us - for some, it's deliberate, and for others it's just the side-effect of seeking/getting what they want.

    So we have to love at a distance. Which is one of the hardest things there is.
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  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Look at this: If you google Kronos Baklava assortment and recipe, what comes up is this. Cedar, you are 9th in results for Kronos Baklava assortment. I am cringing about what may be coming up that I have posted. I will now google malignant narcissism and sisters and see if my sister is there.

    The War of the Grandmas' Baklava - ConductDisorders › ... › General Discussions › The Watercooler
    Dec 30, 2014 - 9 posts - ‎4 authors
    If you google Kronos Baklava Assortment, all kinds of things from this company come up including their recipe. I will have to check that out, now ...
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  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Because there is so much loss involved....

    This is true, Copa. This is the central issue in how we interpret ourselves and our lives. What to do about expectation and loss. Beautifully and clearly written.

    Thank you.

    We would do better to name and grieve the loss and blame no one and expect nothing. If we have no sense of blame to hang onto, then there is only whatever it is that is happening...and no loss.

    How strange.

    I think so, too. I am wondering this morning whether this steady state thinking, this non-judging thinking, is the way we are learning to see everything about our lives.

    Yes. Maybe that is why they say 98% of life is showing up. We never know at all what is happening compared to what we believe may be happening.

    Or, to what we expect to happen.

    I think it is true that our behaviors will be different while we are in contact with people who see things differently than we do. But the more I read about the similarities in the kinds of strangenesses between my family of origin and other families where there is some essential dysfunction, the more I believe there really is a genetic component to all this.

    I think we could not be like them, IC.

    It isn't that we are kinder or stronger, it is that we are normal. In my family, I am not considered normal. I am the romantic one, the one who just doesn't get it. Maybe, they are the ones who are not normal. I have always been a little ashamed of that bumbling take on reality that I have. I am used to the cut of contempt in the eyes at the things I believe. I am familiar with the eye roll as a primary means of communication. I thought it was a funny, friendly, exasperated kind of loving thing until I saw the contempt in it, and the "us against them" in it, in the story of the my mother and my sister and the lady driver. The effect of interpreting myself in this not-possible-to-seriously-expect-to-take-myself-seriously way, for me and in my life, has to do with undivided concentration versus shattered, piecemeal interpretation. It has to do with taking myself seriously enough to concentrate fully on the task at hand, or to take a goal seriously, in a logical, step by step way.

    At some point, I give up, lose faith with myself, where another person plows ahead.

    This is a valuable thing to know. It tells me where my fail point is, and that my fail point will be well before successful completion.

    These are learned behaviors.

    If I were to describe the change occurring through our work here on FOO Chronicles, I would say that is the core change. I think it (this capacity to be present, to attend to our lives purposefully) evolves as our locus of control changes from external to internal.

    Now I am going to go and read about the stages of Moral Development. It is interesting that one of the pieces I read yesterday talked about narcissism in general, and malignant narcissism in particular, as evolving over time through a series of immoral choices.

    Which would mean it is not genetic after all.

    So maybe IC is correct in her contention that it would be possible for us to see the world as they do.

    Maybe that is why I was so angry for awhile there, and why it is that now, when I am not angry like that anymore, I am experiencing piercing pain, which comes up unexpectedly and so sharply, around my mother. I do not have that sense of blame or unfairness so much as a sense of shock as I pull the pieces together with the research and understand I've been fighting a chimera.

    Or maybe, fighting with and for a chimera.

    "In Greek mythology, the Chimera was an awesome fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. The Chimera was killed by the hero Bellerophon mounted, in most versions of the tale, on Pegasus, the winged horse."

    So in the mythology, the chimera needed to be killed.

    I agree this is difficult to near impossible, IC. I was thinking about the Nietzsche quote about loving to breathe because love came first, and wondering if loving our families (which is very healthy for us to do) is accomplished without further thought once the other things are out of the way. If love is the natural state of things, once we stop harboring rationalizations and once we finally stop thinking we have any clue at all about what it is we are doing.

    So, that would be nothing to protect.


    Nothing to protect would mean no expectations and no regrets, either.

  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, this is the rulel in dysfunctional families. I am not going to claim I am completely normal (lol) but NOBODY in my FOO is free of mental illness. None. Personality disorders, eating disorders, social problems, mood disorders, etc. It's all there in many people, not just me, but I am included, especially in mood disorders.They have all had serious issues. I am just the one they picked to blame for their own problems and I know this now. I see things more clearly and did from an early age. That is what they dislike and fight. They are basically in denial about how the family is or was and we aren't. And that's makes us outcasts.

    In my case, too bad, so sad for them, not me.

    I have to thank my psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists for endlessly listening and talking to me about it. And helping me. And, of course, my friends here ;)
  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I keep thinking about what that psychoanalyst kept asking me: what is about wanting that is hard for you? And I felt that to answer him would kill me. That he was asking something of me to get better, that I could not do.

    And it turned out that at least one of the things he wanted was to have sex with patients. Or looked at another way, he did not sufficiently control his wants which ended up destroying his life and him.

    I think wanting is unlimited and without end. There is no one thing that settles it once and for all. That is why Ebay and marketing and Amazon exist. Because wanting is the one thing that is endless and infinitely malleable. Until we understand that it is something that we can tame and control.

    I used to hate the idea of "settling" in life. Cutting short my possibilities, to accept what was already. I wanted always to strive to get to some place where I would feel enough. Be enough. It was not about having things.

    But now I realize everything was already there. Like M and his Mother feel and live. Each of them feels content and grateful for what they are, they have.

    And since M has dedicated himself to reconnect with his children, no matter his hurt and rejection, he has them too. Four of his children went to their grandparents house to hook up cable TV. Each drove to a different part of the city to get needed components, communicating by phone. Imagine how that feels for him to have his kids back. M is very proud, and a little by arrogant. He is very defensive and feels tremendous vulnerability when he feels accused.

    He decided to do whatever it took to recommit to his children. For his Mother. So that his children who live near her, would help them. I believe M feels he has everything he needs, because he does not "want" anything. If something comes along (a sterling silver with a gold wash showed up yesterday, from Ebay--I saw he wanted it but told him it looked femme. "Do you think I will lose my balls?" he said in defiance.

    There is a lesson in that. M trusts himself. He defines himself. He does not feel he is changed by anything he puts on or how others feel about him. That is why what my sister did to him with her gaze trying to dehumanize him could never have worked. She had to avert her eyes first.
    Cedar, these few lines you wrote, could be, each of them expanded to books. When I read that statement, I think, *well you can't really live life if you stay in bed...." But then there is the other meaning...that one has to show up "present." Because one can be just as insulated out among people as not.
    So then when I read this I think, our perceptions delimit what we experience. And our attitudes delimit it even more. And our expectation even more. And our unspoken and unknown wants even more.
    Yes. How to develop practices that make us available.

    I find myself dreading interaction with my son, and feeling bitterness in relation to him. I believe it must be related to the above. I am not showing up with my son. I am unavailable.
    Could it not be, Cedar and Insane, that (like with my son and I) that there are all kinds of defenses involved...the majority of which we are unaware of? Layers and layers of wants, and expectations, and the awareness (and bitterness that comes from it) that they have not been and will not be fulfilled?

    And with our families, there is fear, and the memories of untold hurts and anger, and self-blame for all of the things for which we hold ourselves responsible...because they taught us we were or we held that belief because it was safer? The only kind of safe choice was to sacrifice ourselves.

    So wanting for charged with all of these cross currents that now can be named and purged. But how? How to get back to steady state when everything has become such a tangled maze?

    Have you seen photos of the gardens in England that are mazes (I forgot the exact name. But you get lost in them. Looked at from above they are beautiful.) Would it not be a wondrous thing to think of ourselves in this way. To reclaim our garden of mazes and to lovingly cultivate a means to reclaim them? (And build a bridge over to not get lost?)
    Cedar, may it not be either/or? Could it be both? Like Schizophrenia. For a long time there was thought to be an environmental trigger/component. I do not know how I feel or think about this. I do not know what the current thinking is.

    But that Psychiatrist whose book I bought, Peter Breggins, spoke about a Scandinavian country, Finland, I think, which now has no Schizophrenia. Not because there is not the proclivity but because the response to psychosis is social, is environmental. Their treatment modality is to surround the afflicted person. To bind them with love. And because a diagnosis of Schizophrenia requires 6 months duration of symptoms, nearly everybody remits, before the 6 month criteria.

    So looking at it this way, it is our response which is the problematic thing. Which would fit with the writings on this thread. It is our expectations. Our responses. The lens through which we view and respond to the event.
    Yes. I was that too. The vulnerable one. Sensitive.

    If I think of the dynamic with my son in this way, I become the problematic one. Because as long as I react to him with disappointment, fear, unmet expectations, and wants, I continue to create a problem.

    This is not to say that he does not have responsibility. But I do too. And I am the only one over which I have control.
    Yes and no.

    I am thinking about the woman who owns the gallery. Yes. She has put into place her vision. She has allowed herself to do that. She believed in herself or came to believe in herself.

    But we are doing it too. It does not happen all at once.

    Our problem is that we accuse ourselves as failing, every single time, there is an issue, and obstacle, a temporary pause. A wanting that is not immediately filled.
    We accuse ourselves as failing and do not hold faith. That is what has to change.

    It could be that we are in the midst of creating something unbelievably powerful. That we are right in the middle of it. And right this second we could claim it. But because we have paused for a moment, we are not holding faith. That is what needs to change, with ourselves and our mates and especially our children.

    Except I do not know how to do it. Step one: name it. Step two: ???
    Yes. I agree absolutely with this. Remember how I write about narcissists coming to sociopathy in their fifties, so frequently? When their grandiose needs and hopes have been dashed they turn to immoral means to achieve redress and to make a last ditch effort to succeed. Like Nixon.
    It could be both, no?

    I am back to 98 percent is just showing up. There are so many ways to understand that.

    So much, lately, I am filled with love and gratitude to have M. (When I think like this I think, OMG, what if he leaves? And then I remember that I am not a baby that without parents would die. Or that if he leaves, it would not mean that I am not OK, not lovable. I would still exist. All of these things seem at risk for loving and being loved.)

    Why did I not have somebody like him before? Was it that I did not show up? Emotionally. Was it that nobody like him showed up? Did we create it because only at late fifties and sixties we were each sufficiently destroyed (in expectations, arrogance, attitudes) that we were present?

    How to make sense of this so that I live better? Live more morally? Live?
    A scapegoat. An identified patient. A role.

    The issue though is that our identities are bound up with how they treated us, and how we responded to them by cutting off parts of ourselves, our energies, or wants.

    Thank you Serenity and all. Very interesting thread.

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015
  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    maze garden 2.jpg maze garden 3.jpg maze garden 4 japan.gif The image at the bottom is in Japan. The one at the top, is that the self?
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Here are a few more. maze garden.jpg maze hedges love.jpg 101_maze_garden_01.jpg

    The top one has a handy solution. A bridge over--that is what we need.

    And the bottom one, I love that through way. Cuts right through. Is it not lovely. I may do my yard like this.

    The middle one is just plain beautiful to me.