Quotations

Quotes about narcissism

“Narcissism has more in common with self-hatred than with self-admiration.”

— Christopher Lasch, author

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. . . .They justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

— T.S. Elliott, writer

“Withhold admiration from a narcissist and be disliked. Give it and be treated with indifference.”

— Mason Cooley, essayist

“Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life in his own terms.”

— Elizabeth Bowen, writer

“Underneath the so-called narcissistic personality is definitely shame and the paralyzing fear of being ordinary.”

— Brené Brown, researcher

There is simply no winning with a narcissist.He will treat you so horribly that you will become withdrawn and depressed and then he will turn around and say, ‘You’re no fun anymore, you’re always so depressed. I need to be with someone more positive.’”

— Susan Williams, writer

“Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders . . . but by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless.”

— Jeffrey Kluger, writer

“When people are driving themselves crazy, they have neuroses or psychoses. When they drive other people crazy, they have personality disorders.”

— Albert J. Bernstein, psychologist

“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego.”

— Amanda Torroni, writer

“Narcissism is voluntary blindness,an agreement not to look beneath the surface.”

— Sam Keen, author

“Because narcissistic parents are experts at making everything look good, the child of the narcissist may not know anything was wrong. A common response in therapy is ‘I had a great childhood with caring parents. I should be happy.’”

— Heather Sheafer, writer

“If you want to go from being adored to devalued in the blink of an eye, simply insult the narcissist.”

— Tigress Luv, blogger

“Parents are supposed to give the child back to herself with love. If they’ve got duct tape over their eyes because of narcissism, it doesn’t happen.”

— Jane Fonda, actor

“When narcissists behave in an exhibitionistic manner, they are seeking the same sort of admiration as toddlers, and for the same reasons. They want attention. Some examples include inappropriate dress, talking too loudly, or gesturing in expansive and space-intruding ways.”

— Mark Ettensohn, therapist

“Over and over again, I have learned how damaging, how unrelenting, the aftermath is from these pathological, quietly undermining relationships.”

— Sandra Brown, therapist

“You might as well bang your head into a brick wallif you expect the narcissist to be reasonable, empathetic or human in any way. If you sense or witness any of these traits, there is an ulterior motive. When the narcissist is being nice, it’s because they have something to gain.”

— Tina Swithin, writer

“I know now that one of the characteristics of evil is its desire to confuse.”

— M. Scott Peck, writer

“No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he has a major attachment dysfunction. The extreme narcissist is frozen in childhood.”

— Samuel Lopez de Victoria, therapist

“I have a very simple question to people . . . who seem to suffer from excessive narcissism: Please name three other persons who are smarter and more capable than you, in the field you work in. In most cases they are utterly unable to answer that question honestly.”

— Ingo Molnar, computer hacker

“Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading.”

— W.H. Auden, poet

“The best way to upset a narcissist is by ignoring him.”

— J.B. Snow, writer

“Narcissists install a mental filter in ourheadsa little bit at a time. . . . ‘Will he get upset if I do/say/think this? Will he approve/disapprove? Will he feel hurt by this?’ Until we can uninstall the narcissist-filter, our actions are controlled by narcissists to some degree.”

— Sam Vaknin, writer

“There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting that they made one.”

— Jeffrey Kluger, writer

“He was like the cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.”

— George Eliot, writer

 

 

 

 

 

Projection

 

 

One of the most difficult things to understand in a relationship with a narcissist is their projection of their own dysfunctional behaviour on to you.  This is particularly difficult and painful if you happen to be a child of narcissistic parent(s) because before you are developmentally mature you are being told some really toxic information about who and what you are, because you “trust” your parent you believe them not realizing that they are projecting all the thing that they do not like about themselves on to a very small, vulnerable and suggestable child.  A narcissist has no boundaries so they will even consider a baby to be “bad” if they cry or won’t go to sleep.  Narcissists are not problem solvers so they will never consider why a baby is crying and what could they do to remedy the situation, they will just think that the baby is doing to annoy them and will give them their “just punishment” by ignoring them, putting them out in the garden or yelling at them (narcissistic rage).

Once that child becomes able to talk the narcissist parent will start to name call such as telling the child that they are selfish (“think of all the sacrifices I made for you”), always looking for attention (“You are so needy, will you give me some space”), a horrible child, truly ghastly child, they will threaten abandonment, call them liars (if a child dare to mention that the parent’s behavior is less than perfect (such as favouritism) the will swing around and say well “if you were nicer to me I would be nicer to you” or plain “don’t be so stupid”, or that they are a failure.  On a rational level the child knows that they did not do or are not what they are accused of being, but because they are hostage to their parent(s), there isn’t any way out. As a result the child either numbs out completely or becomes highly reactive and hyper sensitive trying to anticipate the parent(s) needs before they do.

What is actually happening here is that the narcissist cannot tolerate the feeling of shame that s/he has so they project their behavior on to you to protect their own very fragile sense of self and make you believe that it is your fault.

With regard to adult relationships the narcissist will try to make you feel like you have just found your soul mate (be it a lover or a new friend), that you have so much in common – you like the same everything from values, food, film, music, books and holiday destinations (what could possibly go wrong?).  They will put you on a pedestal and will admire everything about you in an exaggerated way.  The thing is that when you try to climb down off the pedestal, they won’t let you.  So when you admit weaknesses or vulnerability they will totally invalidate what you said because s/he needs you to be perfect to reflect/mirror their own “perfection”.  They believe that you are going to save them from themselves by being this perfect person that they have created in their heads and “make it all better”.  When they realise that you are not going to make them feel better about themselves, the mask of the false self, slips and their true damaged self emerges.  They don’t realise that feeling better about themselves cannot be sourced externally. This also is a dynamic that happens between parents and children, the parent thought that children would make them feel fulfilled and fill the emptiness that they have inside them, but the children don’t, they have their own needs (that will never be met) and therefore have failed the parent aka “bad, selfish, horrible and needy irritants.

Because you didn’t make the narcissist feel better about themselves they will consider that you just didn’t give enough admiration, money, love, attention and praise.  There are a number of manipulation tactics that they will use to “make you try harder” such as narcissistic rage, silent treatment, never appreciating anything that you do for them, name calling and gaslighting etc.  The once adoring partner/friend turns into a monster and they will go to extreme lengths to hurt you and everything about you will annoy them and will be “wrong”.  They will criticise the way you look, the way you cook they will rant and rave at the way you speak until finally you feel like you are walking on eggshells and will tip toe around them just “to keep the peace”.  It is at this stage that the person who is involved with a narcissist will deny their own self of sense of self explicitly to avoid the wrath of the narcissist for just being.  Anyone with any sense of self left will leave the relationship at this stage (and will have to acknowledge that a smear campaign will be mounted against you always – because the narcissist is never in the wrong).  This is especially hard since the abuse did not come from you and other people will not see the dynamic and like Eleanor Rigby

Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

With a narcissist, it is for absolutely everyone else.  The less they know a person the harder they try to keep their mask on.  So narcissists will often perform amazing acts of kindness to complete strangers and neglect and ignore their own family.

Because the narcissist cannot even consider/contemplate their own inadequacies, terrible behaviour and psychotic turns they have to make it be someone else’s fault (projection) and who better than their nearest and dearest because they can abuse behind closed doors and anyone else would just walk away (anyone who wasn’t carrying their own narcissistic childhood wounds).

A narcissist will not take responsibility for their own horrendous behaviour therefore in their mind it has to be someone else’s fault.  They can flatly deny that something happened at all or someone else “made them do it” and they absolutely do not care who they might hurt in the process.  They cannot bare the fact that they feel so empty inside, they constantly compare themselves to others which makes the insatiable gossips and are riddled with envy, jealousy and the constant need to “put other people down” either by going after a person’s reputation, making up lies or by name calling.  All of this negative activity makes them feel better than/superior to everyone else, but only in the very short term.  Inevitably it has no long term feel good feeling, they know what they are doing and it only fuels their feelings of shame and unworthiness, because they have been behaving like this since childhood, acting out comes to them on automatic pilot, they have done it before they realise what they are doing and the damage just adds to their shame which in turn has to be projected on to someone else.

One of the most confusing thing about this kind of behaviour is that a narcissist can blame someone for something when that person wasn’t even present when a situation occurred (that the narcissist refuses to take responsibility for) the narcissist will loudly claim that another was responsible and that poor unsuspecting person will be completely confused when others start to behave in a hostile way around them.  You need to realise that their projection onto you was not your fault and you were not selected because you were weak, you were selected because either you don’t know what they are saying to you behind your back or because you won’t confront them out on their amoral behaviour, you know it isn’t going to get you anywhere and will only make them even more vindictive.

Einstein said that the most dangerous people are those who believe in their own lies.  So it is with narcissists they will look you straight in the eye and tell a complete lie.  With most “normal” people you can tell if they are lying/fabricating or exaggerating too much, because they look a little uncomfortable.  Not so with the narcissist they are extremely comfortable with their lies, because if their lie backfires on them they simply flatly deny that they told it and make up another one.

In synthesis, projection is all about a narcissist blaming someone else for their own psychotic, vindictive, cruel and pathological behaviour.  It is a very immature and deceitful way to behave but at this stage I hope you realise that there is absolutely no point in expecting any other type of behaviour from a narcissist and remember once a narcissist always a narcissist if they have done it once they will do it again.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of togetherness with a narcissist, they are only being “nice” as a means to an end.  It is only a matter of time before the mask slips again.

 

 

 

 

What are the effects of emotional incest on a child?

According to Wikipedia Emotional Incest is a style of parenting in which a parent looks to their child for the emotional support that would be normally provided by another adult. The effects of covert incest on a child when they become adults are thought to mimic actual incest.

That is the simplest form of emotional incest, it also includes being a parent’s most important source of support (even above that of their spouse) and children from a very young age are forced to put the needs of their parents before their own.  Unlike the damage from physical or sexual abuse emotional incest is very difficult to identify.  It can be couched in care and love but the real intention is to get control, admiration and attention.  As a result of this children of emotionally incestuous families are rarely feel safe, or are given guidance or discipline.  The parents will often maintain that they are being liberal when in fact they are being extremely abusive and neglectful of their off spring, who are exposed to responsibilities that are far too great for their actual age.

The selected child(ren) will often feel special because of the extra attention that they are receiving from their parent.  Parental attention is a limited resource and if one child is given more of it than their siblings it will lead to them thinking that they are entitled to it.  However, there is a cost to the child for this special attention:

  • It can cause resentment from their spouse that will be directed at the child. Since we get our self-esteem from our same sex parent, if they are exhibiting high levels of resentment, it can be devastating to the confidence of the “chosen” child.
  • It will almost certainly create jealousy and strong sibling rivalry.
  • The child can live in fear of being demoted as the narcissistic parent will use this threat as a means of control.

Emotional incest from one or both parents, makes it impossible for that child(ren) to set healthy boundaries and to get their own needs met.  It is highly probably that these children will go on to have adult relationships that might well be abusive in the same way, where the adult child always puts the needs of others before their own.  Children can often feel guilty because they are unable to understand or meet the emotional needs of their parents and their parents will let them know that they are not “doing their job properly”, these feelings will remain with them into adulthood if they go unchecked, feeling that they are not very good at love or indeed life.  Being okay is never “good enough”.

In adolescence and adulthood they are likely to be tormented by toxic shame and guilt coupled with resentment because they were delegated a “job” that was completely inappropriate and they were far too young for, as children they were never let set boundaries and say “no”.  Even if they might not have to vocabulary to express their sense of injustice/abuse, they will know that there was something very wrong in the family dynamic.

  • They can feel guilty if they do anything for themselves from studying, health care and simply having fun because they have been instilled with an outrageous sense of obligation to their parent(s). Narcissistic parent(s) have a problem with their children having fun because they themselves do not know how to have fun, so they try to prevent it in their children as they cannot relate to it which threatens their assumption that their children are mere extensions of themselves.
  • They might have difficulty relating to their own sexual identity as the parent(s) will want their opposite sex child act as a mini husband/wife and will get aggressive/hurt/jealous if they see someone come along who might threaten this “relationship”.
  • The child might feel inadequate for or unworthy of a healthy loving relationship.
  • Compulsive behaviours such as drugs, food, sex, alcohol, work and gambling are related to emotional incest.
  • The inability to communicate openly and frankly with people including lovers, colleagues and family members because voicing their own needs as a child was not permitted, punished or just ignored.
  • Social anxiety
  • Since a child exposed to emotional incest was given responsibility but no power they can be confused about sharing status with other adults and can often be dominating or dominated.

The whole family unit is effected by emotional incest.  The parent(s) become enmeshed in the lives of their children frequently using them in a game between themselves that their children cannot possibly understand.  The Golden Child will be the favourite of the parent, the one who can do nothing wrong, is very cossetted and always over protected.  Very often the mother will have one golden child and the father will have another (often opposite the sex).  In this situation, the mother’s golden child with become the father’s scapegoat child and the father’s golden child will become the mother’s scapegoat.  Sometimes a spouse is excluded from the family unit deliberately to have the child(ren) exclusively in orbit of one parent.  The spouse that has been shut out might turn to workaholism, alcoholism, hobbies or affairs just to avoid an unhappy home life.  It is more than likely that the excluded parent will be blamed for “never being there”, because as always with narcissists it is never their fault.

It can also happen that a child can be forced into a double role with their parent(s) for example they can be expected to play the role as the admiring/romantic/flirty “lover” and parent at the same time.  This is very confusing to the child as they are never sure which role they are expected to play and it will hinge on the mood the narcissist is in and the company they are keeping at the time.

The narcissist parent will tell their golden child all types of secrets and intimacies that the other children will not be privy to.  The child(ren) who have not been confided in will feel like there is something going on behind their back and this will just broaden the divide between siblings.

There is another type of emotional incest and that is between siblings, where one sibling parentises another, this is a much more intense relationship than “just looking out for the younger ones”, it happens when the parent(s) are emotionally unavailable and a younger sibling looks up to their older one for guidance and comfort.  If the older sibling is narcissistic themselves they can “take care” of the younger one(s), but it comes at a price and that is that they are used as supply, and also enslaved using the model of the narcissistic parent(s).  This dynamic will almost certainly continue into adulthood.  The younger (although not necessarily) sibling will be expected to do exactly what their older sibling tells them to do, even as adults.  This can also occur if one or both parents die prematurely.

Grief after a narcissist

Whether the narcissist in your life is a parent, an ex-partner, a family member or a friend, when you realise that you have been dealing with a narcissist there will be a grieving period.   The reason for this is that the relationship that you believed in and committed to, was completely false.  The narcissist, although they might have claimed to have loved you, they did not.

If you are the child of a narcissistic parent it will feel “normal” to put the needs of others before your own.  It will feel “normal” to be constantly criticised for just being you, everything about you will be on the agenda for criticism from looks, friends, relationships, grades at school, clothes etc. Anything that you have achieved will be dismissed as insignificant, unimportant or up-staged by something that they say they have achieved (which is very probably a lie).

If you grew up with narcissistic parents, you will have learnt not to share your achievements with them (or others) and to be self-deprecating as it feels “safer” because at least you are in control when you are attacking yourself where as a narcissist’s rage knows no limits and feels like a much more dangerous assault.

When you come to realise that your parent(s) or ex-partner didn’t see you as a human being or individual at all, but as an object to manipulate, use and control for their own needs, the entire relationship falls to pieces and it feels like you were living a complete lie.  You might well beat yourself up for being so “stupid”, not seeing it.  However, narcissists are absolute masters in the art of manipulation, deceit and lying.  It is really hard for “non narcissists” to even conceive the level of betrayal and dishonesty that exists in the minds of narcissists.  It is even harder when the narcissist is someone who society extols as being virtuous such as a parent and in particular a mother.  People who haven’t experienced this dynamic or who are currently involved with a narcissist in some way, will deny your assessment of the situation, so it is better for you if you do not look for reassurance from people other than those who know about and accept what you are talking about, because if they don’t have a good knowledge of narcissism they will treat you like you have gone crazy, are feeling sorry for yourself and are looking to blame someone else, which will only make you feel further isolated and misunderstood.

To acknowledge that a person is a narcissist takes a) the ability to observe and assess others, b) will bring in to question the ability of the other person’s judgement of character.  Some might see the narcissist as someone of power and influence such as a parent, boss or church leader and therefore it would not be in their interest to see that person as a narcissist because they want to ingratiate themselves.

When you realise that you have been reared by or have been in a relationship with a narcissist, the first thing that you will feel is confusion loneliness and isolation while you try to work the whole thing out.

A psychiatrist called Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with five stages of grief (which were based on her studies of patients with terminal illness) which also fit the stages of realising that you have been duped by a narcissist.  Obviously everyone experiences loss in a different way.  These stages are not sequential, they all inevitably over lap and not all of them happen for everyone.  The stages below are merely a suggestion as to what might happen.  The only thing that will occur after you realise that you have been in a relationship with a narcissist is that you will feel grief and as the cliché says “two steps forward and one step back”.

The five stages are:

  • DENIAL This is what I call “wilful naivety” and it can go on for a very long time. It is when you say to yourself “no one would do that to someone else”, “This can’t be happening to me”, “This sort of thing happens in novels, history and far off places, not in my home”.  It can go on for a long time because you as an empath make excuses for the narcissist “okay they may be selfish but…”, you will project “good intention” on to the narcissist where there is none and you will be confused because all of the nasty things that a narcissist does and says to you which will be embedded in a language of false concern designed to make them look good, keep you confused and in a vulnerable place so that they can continue in their abuse.
  • ANGER After denial comes anger “How could they do that to me”, “I was a child”, “They said they loved me”, “Why do they think that it is okay to behave like this”. This is a stage where your anger is pretty much universal.  You will be grappling with the realisation of narcissism, you will be angry with the narcissist for not playing fair, angry with yourself for not copping on sooner, for dedicating so much time and resources to someone who doesn’t even see you as another human being and with everyone else for helping the narcissist to prop up their false persona/lies and enabling their abuse.
  • ACCEPTANCE PART 1 The first part of acceptance is knowing that your narcissist cannot love and this is a vital part of recovery. A mental disorder, is like any disorder, would you be angry with your parents if for example they had a physical disease?  You have to recognise their limitations and work with what you (and they) have got.  It is not perfect or ideal, but it is what you have.
  • BARGAINING “If I could just do something good or nice I could return to the comfort of the illusion and make the whole thing go away”, “Surely they can’t be that malevolent, I must have got it wrong”. You don’t want to believe that it is how it is and that there must be something that you can do to make it all right again.  You might even employ a few strategies to try to push your new found realisation away.
  • DEPRESSION This is when you realise that you cannot make it go away, you are angry with yourself and your narcissist(s) and feel a sense of despair. You question your own judgement, you resent the narcissist and your ability to trust yourself ebbs considerably.  It is at this point that you might well have suicidal thoughts and the prospect of life is a lot scarier than death.
  • ACCEPTANCE PART 2 This is when you realise that your relationship with the narcissist is dead and it never existed in the way that you thought it did. However, if you cannot go no contact you will still have to deal with their dysfunction on a regular basis.  This is difficult because a narcissist is not nasty all of the time, only when they are feeling threatened they can go straight into narcissistic rage.  They also use being nice as a ploy to keep you engaged with them, however, if you have a crisis or are upset about something, they will use it as an opportunity to be abusive.  When you accept that you are dealing with a narcissist you will learn how to protect yourself and will recognise the signs in the future so that you don’t ever get involved with a narcissist again (of your own volition – but it could be a co-worker or boss).   If it is a family member, from now on you will be able to manage them better, you will not seek their approval and you will not put their needs in front of your own as you did in the past.  The resentment bit is that you now know and accept that you are dealing with a person with whom you constantly have to be on guard.  You have to accept that they will say nasty things and put you down where and when they can and that there is nothing that you can do about that, but the type of people who believe them are not they type of person that you want in your life.  You might have to do a major cull of “friends” but it is a healthy thing to remove toxic people from your life, they are not making any valuable contribution to your well-being.

When you are going through the process of grieving after narcissistic abuse you may very well feel empty, despair, loneliness and isolation.  What you are experiencing is the death of a relationship not the death of a person (although it pretty much amounts to the same thing) so you will not get the sympathy or concern that you might garner if someone had physically died, rather than your belief in a false perception.  You may well be told that you are emotionally unstable and volatile and the thing is, you probably are, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  To grow and develop we have to go through periods of discomfort and confusion, it is a necessary part of making changes for the better in our lives and many find this part of growth too painful and uncomfortable so they just don’t do it. When you make seismic shifts in your perception of the world and of those around you it is destabilising.  It would be like if the earth moved even a fraction of a degree on its axis, everything would change, climate, flora and fauna etc., what you perceived to be there is no longer and that is what grief is all about.

There is another thing to notice in yourself when you go through grief and that is the potential physical symptoms.  This might include feeling excessively tired or having insomnia (protracted insomnia does make you a little crazy, so it is important to get in to a good daily routine paying attention to what you eat and drink before bed and having a regular exercise schedule).  You might gain or lose weight.  You may oscillate between wanting to cry and wanting to vomit, your whole body may well hurt.  You may drink too much or take prescription drugs.  This is just part of the process.  However, if you do not show any of the above symptoms, it does not mean that you are not going through the process “properly”, it just means that you are doing it another way.

The final thing is that we can only move forward because we have a better awareness of ourselves and those around us, there is no evolvement without self-knowledge and enlightenment is not synonymous with happiness, it is merely the disregarding of false held truths, the real work starts after that realisation and the attempt to realign your perception of the world with that awakening.  It can be very lonely and solitary work, but at this stage you will have realised that there is really only one person that you can totally depend on (you) and perhaps it is time to give that person a lot more of your love, care and attention than you did in the past.