I wrote this post just days before I became self aware. Some of these questions have answers now, but of course having answers always leads to new questions. I had no idea the first leg of my journey, which I’d been on for 11 months, was almost at an end, and I was about to enter the next level.
I think this perspective, seen from the edge of emerging self awareness, is rather interesting to read now. It seems like years ago. I was clearly confused about a lot of things. I’m still confused, but the confusion’s directed at myself now.
Free Associating about Narcissism
Originally posted on Lucky Otter’s Haven on July 26, 2015
In reading and writing so much about narcissism, sometimes it seems like more questions are raised than are answered. Here are some of the random questions and thoughts I’ve had that I can’t really explain. Some of these random thoughts may seem crazy, but they are still questions and I’m still looking for answers.
Why is it that so many of us narcissistic abuse survivors don’t realize what happened to us or even have a name for it until so late in life? Most of the people I’ve met who have realized they were raised by narcissistic parents, married to narcissistic spouses or have gone No Contact are in their 40s, 50s and older. It seems so unfair to discover this at such a late age and realize how many years have been wasted or lost.
Related to this, I wonder why there seem to be so few male victims? Is it because men are more likely to have NPD and thus be the perpetrators, or is it because in our culture, men are more reluctant to express their feelings and write about them on public blogs or message boards?
Why is it the more I read about narcissism the more narcissistic traits I see in myself and the more I want to be rid of them? Sometimes it’s like looking into a mirror. Overall though, I’ve learned even more about myself than I have about the narcissists in my life, and I think that’s a good thing, even if I’m too hard on myself and am seeing narcissism that isn’t really there.
Why is it that one of the warmest, emotionally open, and seemingly most compassionate people I’ve met in the narcissistic abuse community is a woman who believes herself to be a psychopathic (malignant) narcissist? Is her warmth and openness faked and I’m a fool for falling for it, or is her “narcissism” a delusion? I’ve looked for red flags and I simply haven’t seen any, but it’s easy to misrepresent yourself online. I have pretty good sixth sense and I don’t get any “evil” vibes or feelings of discomfort from socializing with this person, and I normally do when dealing with even the “nicest” narcs IRL.
What exactly is borderline personality disorder? Is it a form of complex PTSD not recognized by the psychiatric and medical community, is it a dissociative disorder, or is it a form of narcissism where the person never constructed a viable False Self? Should it even be in the Cluster B category of disorders or is it something else altogether?
For that matter, is NPD a form of complex PTSD so deeply ingrained in the personality so early in life it’s almost impossible to eradicate? After all, almost all narcissists were abused and that’s why they became narcissists. Should “personality disorder” labels just be scrapped completely the way BPD Transformation suggests?
Is malignant narcissism what happens when an HSP (highly sensitive person) “goes bad”? I wrote about that in this article, but I still wonder.
Can a psychopath (or a narcissist) ever do good things intentionally (and not just for supply)? I wrote about this too, and understandably, the ire of a few ACONs was raised from that particular article. I agree it seems like a stupid question because a psychopath or narcissist has no empathy. But they still have “cold empathy” which means they can know exactly how you feel but only in a cold, intellectual way. Are there any narcs or psychopaths who simply choose not to do wrong? I haven’t ever met any, but I still think it’s something worth asking. On the other hand, wouldn’t “not doing wrong” negate their “psychopathy,” even if they lack that quality called empathy? Maybe some of them just want to be seen as good, and it’s really just a way to get supply.
Here’s a fascinating interview with Dr. James Fallon, a diagnosed psychopath who chooses prosocial behaviors over antisocial ones (although his attitude in the interview does seems quite narcissistic). I think he comes off much like a cult leader so I’m very skeptical.
I’ve seen the “black eyes” many people talk about in malignant narcissists, especially when they rage. It’s very scary to see and it’s very real. Does this indicate a spiritual deficit in which part or all of their soul is corrupted (or even missing) or is there some medical reason for this? I do remember reading something describing this phenomenon in medical terms; unfortunately I’ve lost the link to that article. Personally I think there is a spiritual element involved and a malignant narcissist has chosen evil over good, even if there is a medical or scientific reason for the strangeness of their eyes. Most abuse survivors have seen this and find it as terrifying as I do.
Why would anyone in their right mind choose to be a narcissist, even if done unconsciously as a young child? Why would anyone want to shut themselves off from the ability to feel love, empathy and joy, even if the payoff means they can protect themselves from being hurt anymore? It makes no sense because most narcissists are still incredibly sensitive (about themselves) and are constantly fending off or reacting to insults. It seems like a horrible way to live.
Are all narcissists “evil”? Or is that a blanket judgment? I’m kind of torn on this. I think the higher you go on the spectrum (and I do believe narcissism is a spectrum disorder), the more evil the narcissist will be. I’ve met some low spectrum narcs who are merely full of themselves and difficult to deal with, but I wouldn’t call them evil. Maybe those people don’t really qualify as narcissists though. I think the point at which a person becomes “evil” coincides with their willingness to change. The higher you go on the spectrum, the less likely it is the narcissist will ever become self aware or willing enough to get better. There are some high spectrum narcissists who are aware of their disorder, but don’t think of it as a disorder and are unwilling to change, so self-awareness by itself is meaningless. Willingness must also be present.
Do narcissists ever have moments of being non-narcissistic or even feeling empathy? I’ve known many narcissists who care nothing about the feelings of those around them, but cry like babies when they watch a sad or touching movie, listen to music, or when their pet dies or becomes ill. Have they simply shoved all their original empathy into one or two “safe” outlets, such as the ability to feel the emotions of a fictional character who doesn’t actually exist?
Why are some of the most religious people I know also the most narcissistic? Is their faith real?
How can you really tell if a victim of abuse may actually be the real narcissist and the “narcissist” the real victim? I know this can and does happen.
These are just a few of the things I wonder about. I’m sure I’ll think of others.