New blog that shatters NPD stigma.

shattering_glass

When I first started writing about narcissism, shortly after I went No Contact with my own narcissists, like many other Adult Children of Narcissists(ACON) bloggers, I was a hater. I thought all narcs were evil and should be lined up and shot. I didn’t think there was a cure, and drank the Kool-Aid that they were soulless demons who would never change.

Rage and even hatred is a normal reaction when you’re going No Contact, and is probably necessarily in order to free yourself and avoid any further damage. After all, anger is necessary to override the fear and depression of being trapped in a relationship with a narcissist, and it’s true that the things they do can be very damaging and bad for your mental health. But holding onto hatred once the danger has passed is nearly as bad for you as narcissistic abuse itself. In fact, it can turn you into a narcissist.

At some point, I began to grow tired of the endless narc-bashing I saw on almost every blog and website written for victims. In fact, it became pretty clear that a number of the narc-abuse victim bloggers were in fact acting pretty narcissistic themselves, especially after I was cruelly mobbed by a group of such bloggers after I dared to suggest that maybe not all narcissists were evil and maybe some could even be cured of their disorder. To them, this was blasphemy. How dare I put NPD and C-PTSD in the same box, suggesting that they might in fact be closely related and that NPD was itself a result of trauma? It didn’t help when I admitted I had a BPD diagnosis. To some of the haters, being a borderline is almost as bad as being a narcissist. After all, people with BPD, having a Cluster B disorder, are also known to manipulate others and be selfish and abusive (though not every borderline acts out against others — some only hurt themselves).

I began to want to understand NPD instead of hating them. I joined a forum where both narcissists and non-narcissists who have had to deal with them post, and realized that the narcissists suffer too. Many of them even want to heal. I was surprised by how little drama there was on the forum. It just seemed like both groups wanted to understand what made the other one tick. I learned a lot there about the way narcissists think and realized they do have feelings. It was a good experience.

Something else happened too. When I realized not all narcissists are evil and some are even self-aware and really don’t want to hurt others, I was finally able to look at myself with more clarity. It came as a bit of a shock at first that I fit on that spectrum myself. I actually fit the profile for covert narcissism pretty well. This was sobering, in fact devastating, but I dealt with that by starting this blog. I don’t know if I have NPD (my therapist doesn’t think so) but I am definitely on the spectrum and have several N traits. And yes, I have at times even been abusive to others, without realizing I was being abusive. Realizing I had inflicted pain on others was upsetting to me, but ultimately enlightening.

People develop NPD due to childhood trauma or at least a lack of mirroring or unconditional love from their parents, especially the mother. They lack empathy because they were never taught empathy, which is a learned behavior. I won’t get into the mechanics of how NPD develops (I’ve discussed that at length elsewhere and any psychology book about narcissism can explain how that works).

“Research shows nearly 70% of children with an parent have NPD themselves.”

There’s a concept called “fleas” which is well-known in the ACON community. That means that you have picked up narcissistic traits yourself from the narcissists in your life, like a dog picks up a case of fleas. But what if those of us with fleas were honest and admitted we are actually on the spectrum ourselves? That we picked up those traits so we could survive? That we might even be narcissists? All narcissists also had “fleas,” since it is in part a learned behavior. They picked up those traits from their own abusers in order to survive. It was hardly ever a a conscious decision though, as many of the haters believe.

I didn’t write this to make excuses for narcissistic behavior or the abuse they often inflict. Those who aren’t self aware, or those who are high on the spectrum (malignant narcissists) usually have no desire to change, and probably can’t change. They are too far gone. I also believe in No Contact. It’s really the only viable way to “handle” a narcissist who has no desire to change the way they act. You can’t make a narcissist want to change, either. They either do or they don’t. Don’t try to coax a narcissist to change, because it won’t work and you will only frustrate yourself. The desire to do so must come from within.

It’s also a myth that if you’re asking yourself the question, “am I a narcissist?” that automatically means you are not one. It’s a myth that narcissists can’t be self-aware. If you are asking yourself if you’re a narcissist, there is a chance you could be one. There are online tests you can take to find out, or you can get an official diagnosis to rule it out. I read a shocking statistic too: The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder states that two thirds of children who have parents with NPD go on to develop NPD themselves!  I think many (if not most) cases of “fleas” are actually cases of low-level narcissism.  Even Pete Walker, in his book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, believes that narcissism is the “Fight” response to narcissistic abuse (explained in the concept of the “4 F’s”) .   In other words, all people with NPD also have C-PTSD that underlies it.    This isn’t a popular view with abuse victims (which is understandable), but it makes perfect sense.    Yet many ACONs, even those who have read Walker’s book, deny that narcissists can also be victims (and vice versa).   That there’s any overlap or gray areas.   They just assume people with NPD are all evil, soulless monsters incapable of self-awareness or any good intentions and that as victims, they are blameless  and have never hurt a fly.

For awhile now, I have believed that narcissists are just another type of victim of narcissistic abuse.   This has earned me some side-eye (and worse) from some of the narc-abuse bloggers, but I don’t care.  It’s what I have come to believe.   The disorder is unnecessarily stigmatized, but not many people with NPD (unlike those with BPD) are fighting back against the stigma.  Maybe some don’t care (or in the case of malignant narcissists, even like the stigma).   But there are those who hate it and wish there was a more nuanced view of this disorder.   It bothers them that even therapists won’t take them on because of the stigma (maybe this is part of the reason they are rarely in therapy).

A few months ago a diagnosed NPD started commenting on this blog. She was in therapy and trying to change the way she acted.  I’m not sure what happened to this person (she hasn’t commented here in awhile), but I simply could not think of her as evil in any way.  She opened up to me about the trauma she endured and we became Facebook friends.  She just seemed like someone who hurt a lot all the time, and had become a near-recluse due to the shame in having the disorder and being afraid she was going to hurt someone.  I didn’t see much, if any, difference between her and any other victim of narcissistic abuse, despite her NPD diagnosis.

Yesterday I got a new follower on Twitter.   This person just started a blog about what it feels like to have NPD and is in therapy for it and actively trying to change:  please click on this link:

Main (updated) site on WordPress.com:

https://recoveringfromnpd.wordpress.com/

Old site (with forum): http://www.healingfromnpd.com/

The woman who runs the site practices mindfulness, something many people with BPD and those who blog about having it are familiar with.     I took a look at her website and liked what I saw.   She doesn’t glorify narcissism or act like she’s proud of it.  In fact, her site debunks many of the myths that so many of the narc-abuse bloggers have come to believe about narcissism.   There aren’t too many blogs like hers, in fact hardly any.    There was a time when BPD was almost as stigmatized as NPD (and still is by many people), but now it’s lost much of that stigma due to anti-stigma activism by borderlines who blog about what it’s like to have it and have proved they CAN change.    I think the same thing needs to happen with NPD and this is one blogger who is doing just that.  I highly recommend her site, not only to self-aware low level narcissists who don’t want to be that way anymore, but also to narcissistic abuse victims who think they have “fleas.”    I think sites like hers can help reduce the stigma and give a more nuanced and fair view of narcissism and how it feels “from the other side.”

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16 thoughts on “New blog that shatters NPD stigma.

  1. I can’t get this terrific post out of my mind. Here is what I have been thinking:

    As you know, both my husband and I have been diagnosed with PTSD. Mine was caused by narcissistic abuse, in childhood and early adulthood. My husband’s was caused primarily by combat in Vietnam. However, he also experienced severe abuse from gangs, as a little boy in Brooklyn. And, going by the things I have been told about his late mother, she was probably a narcissist.

    Although my symptoms began in the 1960s, my PTSD was not diagnosed and treated until 2003. By that time my three children, who were born in the 1970s and early 1980s, were all grown and living on their own. Which means that my poor kids were raised by a badly broken mother.

    The same is true of my husband. His PTSD symptoms go back to at least 1969, when he was in Nam. But PTSD did not become an official DSM psychiatric diagnosis until 1980, and he was not diagnosed until many years after that. Although the VA doctor who diagnosed him, kept urging him to go into a PTSD treatment program, he did not go until 2005, a year after we married. (It was either that, or I was going to divorce him. His 8-week in house treatment saved our marriage.)

    My husband’s two children were born in the 1970s. So they grew up with a badly broken dad. Not only that, their mother, my husband’s late first wife, was taken by the state of California from her abusive parents when she was an infant, and put in a foster home that raised her in a cult until she was 18. From what I have been told about her I am positive that she, too, had PTSD.

    So my husband and I have five adult children between us, all of whom were raised by badly broken parents with undiagnosed and untreated PTSD. Now that our kids are all in their forties, with one in his thirties, and with all eight of our grandchildren now grown (college age), here is what I am beginning to realize:

    Narcissism begets PTSD, and PTSD begets narcissism.

    Not in every case, but often enough that I can see a definite pattern. It’s heartbreaking! My husband and I keep trying to help and “fix” our adult kids. But sometimes I feel like we would have better luck if we were trying to stop a speeding freight train with our bare hands. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am sorry your adult kids had to deal with two broken parents. 😦 I know how that feels, because my two children also had badly broken parents, and a mother who was nowhere near as self aware and mindful as I am now while they were growing up. I did and said things that could only be construed as “cluster B-ish” or even narcissistic. Of course, as you know, I also was raised by narcissists. SO was my ex. My ex became a narcissist (and a very malignant one), while I enabled him because of my own codependency. Some experts even believe that being codependent is in fact a form of narcissism (and narcissism is itself caused by abuse). It’s a contagious disorder, and probably is also genetic to some degree too. My two kids, fortunately don’t appear to be narcissists, but there have been times I have wondered about both of them. They are still young. Hopefully neither of them turns to narcissism as a way of life. I’m trying to educate both of them about NPD and narcissism, and teach them how contagious it is and to avoid people who are abusive to them. I have a lot of guilt over some of the ways I treated them, or failed to mirror them and defend them from their father’s abuses they way they should have been. I will say one thing — if either of them became narcissists, I could never just give up on them. Then my love would be conditional. I think I would blame myself for having contributed to them becoming that way.

      Also, I think that because C-PTSD isn’t considered an official diagnosis, that people who have it are often diagnosed with a personality disorder instead, especially a cluster B disorder like BPD or NPD — and that can cause therapists to not want to bother with them, while a C-PTSD diagnosis might get them the help they need.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I just said a prayer for you to find healing answers. I have tried many different treatment modalities. So far, the one thing that has helped me the most by far is neurofeedback. I will be writing an in-depth post about that within the next few days. Safe hugs back!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with you in large part on your stance on NPD. I’ve been angry and hurt about the damage my family caused me but I’ve always been aware of the fact that each of them behave the way they do because of damage caused them.

    I also got tired of the narc bashing, have questioned about myself and I do think that fleas is actually narcissism. After all if the traits are ours… I mean if we have fleas then so do our narc family members, etc.

    There is a woman who has a channel on youtube named Dana who holds the same opinions of narcissists as well although her focus is on helping those who were hurt and abused by them. She does not seem to be on the spectrum but was involved in a toxic relationship with a narc and is recovering from codependency.

    She does a live show on Google hangouts every Wednesday night. She talks and answers questions for like 3 hours every week. Her channel is called Thrive After Abuse in case you’re interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will definitely check out her channel! I am always looking for blogs, videos and other information that helps instead of demonizes, because I don’t think it’s a black and white issue– at all! There’s a lot of overlap. I just wrote another post about this. (I think you saw it and liked it already).

      It’s disheartening the way almost every site for narc-abuse doesn’t have a more nuanced attitude about NPD, which itself is caused by narc-abuse. And many of the site owners show narcissism themselves in their black and white thinking and judgmental attitude, even to those who question the status quo, among other things. It’s a good thing narcissism is being brought out in the open and victims of abuse can now find support, but you have to be careful of those sites and a lot of things need to change.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The black and white thinking is ironic. But then I wonder how much of it is the attempt at keeping cog/dis at bay.

        It’s difficult to analyze the topic because there is so much to it. Narcissism is unresolved trauma but how do you logically reconcile giving leeway to a group of people yet still hate and fear the specific people who narcissistically abused you?

        It’s a rhetorical question of course.
        I do think though that someone who is aware, wants to change and puts effort into changing is much different than someone who is unaware and never acknowledges his/her offenses.

        I know that I would’ve had different feelings for my father if I’d known and saw evidence he was trying to be a better man and father. The same goes for my other family members, although it’s always different when it’s personal.

        I think many people are not comfortable with things when they aren’t cut and dry because it’s so much more work to think about it otherwise.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. There’s an incredible amount of irony. It can drive you nuts if you overthink it.
          I think cognitive dissonance has a lot to do with the black and white thinking (which is itself a narcissistic, or at least a borderline, trait). To acknowledge that narcs may not be all “evil” and they (as victims) aren’t all good, would require them to acknowledge their own narcissism, which would negate everything they believe about themselves (as blameless victims). They might even have to put themselves in the same box with “the enemy.” The cognitive dissonance would be overwhelming. As humans, we do anything we can to avoid feeling it, because it can drive you insane. So we tell ourselves lies and half truths and sugarcoat our own flaws to make ourselves feel better.
          Even computers, when faced with such contradictions (the equivalent of cognitive dissonance) , destroy themselves.

          Liked by 1 person

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