January 9, 2007

Neither Is This Is A Narcissistic Injury

I have another unrelated post coming, but a quick word on insults vs. narcissistic injuries, and why this distinction is so important.

Narcissistic injuries have nothing to do with sadness.  They are always and only about rage. 

The narcissist says, "I exist."  A narcissistic injury is you showing him that he does not exist in your life.  Kicking him in the teeth and telling him he is a jerk is not a narcisstic injury-- because he must therefore exist. 

Let's say I'm a narcissist, and you send me a 10 page letter explaining why I suck, I'm a jerk, I'm an idiot; you attack my credibility, my intelligence; and you even provide evidence for all of this, college transcripts, records from the Peters Institute, you criticize my penis size, using affidavits from past and future girlfriends-- all of this hurts me, but it is not a narcissistic injury.  

A narcissistic injury would be this: I expect you to write such a letter, and you don't bother. 

This is most easily seen in the failing marriage of a narcissist. 

The reason it's important is because the reaction of the narcissist to either "insult" is different.  In the first example, he will be sad and hurt, but he will yell back, insult you, or cry and beg forgiveness or mercy--he will respond-- maintain the relationship.   He'll say and do outrageous things that he knows will cause you to respond again, to prolong your connections, even if they cause him misery.  He doesn't care that it makes you and him miserable-- he cares only that there is a you and him.

But in the latter case where you ignore him, humiliate him-- an actual narcissisitic injury-- he will want to kill you.



And before everyone flames me, I am not trying to give a scientific explanation of the pathogenesis of narcissism.  This is simply one man's opinion of how we can specify what it is, and what it may predict, past or future.  Nor am I suggesting this isn't "treatable"-- anyone can change.  It may not be easy, but it is always possible.

And I also do not mean to imply that all narcissists will kill everyone who injures them.  The point is rage.  They may never act on it, or they may break a window, or attempt suicide, etc. 



You've just explained an ex... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2007 12:40 PM | Posted by Jennifer: | Reply

You've just explained an ex boyfriend to me.

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I knew a fellow like this. ... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2007 5:33 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

I knew a fellow like this.

His ex wife had divorced him and she'd even told him she was glad they'd never had kids, because that way he had no legal right to get back into her life after the divorce.

X's response was to become a doctrinaire Christian and to

1) Be totally against divorce under any circumstances

2) Be dogmatically anti-abortion

3) Insist that it was sinful to marry and choose not to have children

In short, this guy wanted to outlaw all the ways ways his ex wife had inflicted narcissistic injury upon him!

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Wow, you're good. This is a... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2007 6:05 PM | Posted by Michael Didj: | Reply

Wow, you're good. This is a fascinating area for me especially with your insight. Is narcissism a requirement for dictators? What are your thoughts on resident shrub, is he a narcissist-sociopath? seriously.

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If you want to learn how so... (Below threshold)

January 11, 2007 12:02 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

If you want to learn how some NPD sufferers go on to become charismatic leaders, get and read 'Prophetic Charisma' by Len Oakes.

Oakes was able to interview 20 charismatic leaders and many of their followers. He had an empathic perspective because, prior to becoming a clinician, he had spent time in a commune led by a charismatic leader. (The leader later got into a sex scandal and was jailed.)

Oakes had beneficial experiences in the group, but eventually smelled trouble and chose to leave before the leader self destructed.

Oakes saw how charismatic leadership could spur a group to self discovery and social achievement, yet sensed the dangers and the essential fragility of charismatic leaders themselves.

Oakes makes a convincing case that many charismatic leaders are narcissistically wounded, fail to move through normal developmental stages and actually lack empathy and cannot enjoy ordinary, intimate relationships. They substitute for these deficiencies by developing exceptional non verbal acuity, work hard to become masterful at social manipulation.

I put it to a friend when I said, 'You and I were evicted from childhood before we were ready to outgrow it on schedule.

'To compensate for our lost childhood, we grew sensitive antennae.'

Intuition and social address (sensitive antennae) are not the same as empathy. Feeling special is an empty booby prize compared with the capacity to feel human,with other human beings and have that be enough.

Charismatic leaders who operate from NPD can actually be very healing and helpful to those who relate only to their public personae and who do not get too close.

The actual wounding price is paid by those who are dependant on and intimate with the person who has NPD.

If you want a great behind the scenes report from the daughter of an NPD leader who had a prosocial effect on society but who inflicted great pain upon his family, read Susan Erikson's memoir, 'In the Shadow of Fame.'

She's the daughter of Erik Erikson, and was 13 years old when her father morhped into a world famous figure. She writes with honesty and compassion. THe saddest thing she reports is how essentially unhappy her father remained, despite his fame and despite how many people appreciated his work.

Their adultation fed only her father's public self and by passed his neglected, hidden true self, which continued to starve and go unfed.

As her father's public persona got more and more public validation, this actually widened the chasm between his public persona and his hidden, disowned true self, aggravating the imposter syndrome that made him suffer.

Fame is not balm for those who have NPD. It will actually leave the person hungrier. It may account for why so very many rich and famous persons seem to get more hungry for fame and money, rather than less so.

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Thank you for the informati... (Below threshold)

January 13, 2007 12:54 AM | Posted by Michael Didj: | Reply

Thank you for the informative response.

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A narcissistic injury is pu... (Below threshold)

August 3, 2007 5:46 AM | Posted by Aden: | Reply

A narcissistic injury is public exposure of the lies and manipulations that someone with narcissistic personality disorder uses to maintain their carefully crafted persona or vision of themselves.

If you want to have leverage with a narcissist, start exposing their secrets.

Others finding out the real truth about a narcissist is the narcissist’s greatest fear and injury. They will do anything to avoid this including leaving you alone.

Alone's response: or kill you.

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