December 31, 2006

This Is Not A Narcissistic Injury

 

Saddam Hussein 

 

I know it looks like one, but it's not.  And why it's not makes every difference in predicting what will happen next. 

My previous post described the modern narcissist, which is slightly different than the kind described by Kohut and others.  In short, the narcissist is the main character in his own movie.  Not necessarily the best, or strongest, but the main character.  A narcissistic injury occurs when the narcissist is confronted with the reality that he is not the main character in his movie; the movie isn't his, and he's just one of 6 billion characters.

The worst thing that could happen to a narcissist is not that his wife cheats on him and leaves him for another man. He'll get angry, scream, stalk, etc, but this doesn't qualify as a narcissist injury because the narcissist still maintains a relationship with the woman.  That it is a bad relationship is besides the point-- the point is that he and she are still linked: they are linked through arguing,  restraining orders, and lawyers, but linked they are.  He's still the main character in his movie; it was a romantic comedy but now it's a break-up film.  But all that matters to the narcissist is that he is still the main character.

No, that's not the worst thing that can happen.  The worst thing that could happen to a narcissist is that his wife cheats on him secretly and never tells him, and she doesn't act any differently towards him, so that  he couldn't even tell.  If she can do all that, that means she exists independently of him.  He is not the main character in the movie.  She has her own movie and he's not even in it. That's a narcissistic injury.  That is the worst calamity that can befall the narcissist. 

Any other kind of injury can produce different emotions; maybe sadness, or pain, or anger, or even apathy.   But all narcissistic injuries lead to rage.  The two aren't just linked; the two are the same.  The reaction may look like sadness, but it isn't: it is rage, only rage.

With every narcissistic injury is a reflexive urge towards violence.  I'll say it again in case the meaning was not clear: a reflexive urge towards violence.  It could be homicide, or suicide, or fire, or breaking a table-- but it is immediate and inevitable.  It may be mitigated, or controlled, but the impulse is there.   The violence serves two necessary psychological functions: first, it's the natural byproduct of rage.  Second, the violence perpetuates the link, the relationship, keeps him in the lead role.   "That slut may have had a whole life outside me, but I will make her forever afraid of me."  Or he kills himself-- not because he can't live without her, but because from now on she won't be able to live without thinking about him.  See? Now it's a drama, but the movie goes on.

So if you cause a narcissist to have a narcissistic injury, get ready for a fight. 

Saddam is not experiencing a narcissistic injury: he is still the main character in the movie.  If he was sentenced to life in prison, to languish, forgotten, no longer relevant, no longer thought about, that would be a narcissistic injury-- then his rage would be intense, his urge towards violence massive.  But who cares?  There's nothing he could  do.

But remaining the main character, he has accomplished the inevitable outcome of such a movie: he has become a martyr.  Even in death, he is still the main character.  That's why the narcissist doesn't fear death.  He continues to live in the minds of others.  That's narcissism.

I'm not saying executing Saddam wasn't the right thing to do, and I'm not sure I have much to add to theoretical discussions about judgment, and punishment, and the sentence of death.  It doesn't matter what your political leanings are,  what matters is we look at a situation that has occurred, and use whatever are our personal talents to try and predict the future.

I understand human nature, and I understand narcissism.   And I understand vengeance.  Saddam was a narcissist, but this wasn't a narcissistic injury. 

This was a call to arms. 

We should all probably get ready.

 

 

 







Comments

You sure know a lot about n... (Below threshold)

January 1, 2007 12:40 AM | Posted by Dated a Narcissist: | Reply

You sure know a lot about narcissism. Fascinating!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 4 (4 votes cast)
You are way too knowledgabl... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2007 11:35 PM | Posted by Tom: | Reply

You are way too knowledgable about the narcissist. Like the narcissist you (too) probably need to get a real life with a family & a mortgage. Thank you for your insight.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -23 (27 votes cast)
Does your wanting to be the... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2007 2:36 PM | Posted by Michael Didj: | Reply

Does your wanting to be the 'best medical blog' make you narcissitic? The title of your blog: "The Last Psychiatrist", ironically, sounds pretty narcissistic to me. Did my previous comment, which you deleted, cause you a narcissistic injury?

Previous comment: What is the healthy alternative to narcism? The problem, as I see it, with the DSM, is that it does not have anything but pathologies/personality flaws and that there has never been a human that can avoid being classified within this obviously slanted classification system. It seems to assume its own objectivity, denying the subjective reality we all live within. Is the DSM narcisistic, psychopathic or just pessimistic?

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Maybe I'm a "recovering nar... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2007 9:24 AM | Posted by Admin: | Reply

Maybe I'm a "recovering narcissist?"

And yes, I appreciate the irony of a narcissism series with a "Vote for me" in the middle.

Michael: I didn't delete your comment, I just discovered my spam filter absorbs most of the comments, including, surprisingly, commetns from me! It was set to "+2" which apparently is too high. Sorry-- your comments (and everyone else's) have been replaced.

As an academic point, and not meant to defend myself, thinking you are the best, or being insulted when someone disagrees with you, is _not_ narcissism. In fact, it's the opposite.

For example: if I was insulted by someone's comment, or say they posted a detailed refutation of something I wrote, that wouldn't be a narcissistic injury, it would "merely" be an insult. For it to be a narcissistic injury, the comment would have to "remind" me that I am insignificant, not that I am bad, or wrong. A detailed refutation could actually _validate_ my narcissism--because I was obviously "worth" the time it took to rebut.

The DSM is useless, so whatever it says about anything is pretty much irrelevant.

Hee's a nonclinical example: say you're being stalked. Stalker are mostly narcissists, for reasons obvious. What you can't do is engage them; you can't meet them to tell them to leave you alone; you can't write them an email; in many ways, even restraining orders/arresting them can be counterproductive, because now they are "in a relationship" with you. Again, that the relationship is bad is irrelevant; only _that_ a relationship exists is important to the narcissist.

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There's an old but apparent... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2007 6:07 PM | Posted by ak: | Reply

There's an old but apparently good book by Stephen M Johnson entitled

'Humanizing the Narcissistic Style.'

Johnson suggests that many persons who have incurred narcissistic injury come out of it as good persons who are not grandiose, who actually are of service to society and a pleasure to live with, but who have rejected their true selves and suffer from a corresponding loss of vitality.

Narcissistic style is milder and more common than classic, grandiose 'textbook' narcissism.

Johnson suggests that an authentic sense of self is felt at body level, not just emotionally/cognitively.

And he emphasises how important it is to have empathy and a felt sense of the way these people suffer and the courage required for them to let of a false self that did have an adaptive function and to pain of passing through the vulnerability and chaos needed to access the neglected true self and nurture that self to maturity.

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Hi!thanks again fo... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2007 6:21 AM | Posted by Thank you: | Reply

Hi!

thanks again for your enlightening info on the subject. its very down-to-earth and easy to understand.

Question: You mentioned that if you have a stalker that making a restraing order makes it continue in their minds because you are still in a relationship with this person.

Well, what to you do otherwise? I ignored this person. didn't asnwer calls, emails, etc. I even holed up in my house like a turtle in a shell trying to just to put no energy out to him so he had nothing to attach to. He kept stalking and harassing me. it was so scary and my many friends and the police advised the restraining order. i was very worried that it would make it worse and how would i feel safe later after the 2 years was up on the restraining order.

Interestingly enough, the restraining order process went well. there was lots of evidence and even witnesses and he showed that he was truly disturbed in the court room. it was very stressful though.

what would you recommend if not giving a restraining order??

also, "ak" left a message below and i don't understand it. sounds like a quote from a book someone pieced together. i was interested in what it was trying to say but couldn't quite get it all...

thanks again!

"Johnson suggests that an authentic sense of self is felt at body level, not just emotionally/cognitively.

And he emphasises how important it is to have empathy and a felt sense of the way these people suffer and the courage required for them to let of a false self that did have an adaptive function and to pain of passing through the vulnerability and chaos needed to access the neglected true self and nurture that self to maturity."

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -1 (3 votes cast)