Guest Post: Recovering from NPD: My Journey to Self-Awareness

I’m proud to share this guest post with all of you, written by a woman, Yara Aiko, who not too long ago, identified herself only as a victim of narcissistic abuse, having been her mother’s scapegoat during childhood. I wrote a short post about her blog, Healing from NPD, the other day. Since narcissism is a spectrum disorder, she believes (as I do) that most cases of narcissistic “fleas” are actually cases of low-level narcissism.

Yara Aiko’s blog is different than the average narcissism blog. Not only because it addresses the problem of narcissism from the NPD’s perspective, but also because it’s actually written for ACONs (Adult Children of Narcissists) who believe they may have “fleas.” Both she and I have come to believe that many narcissistic abuse bloggers are themselves narcissists, based on the way they act and treat others. I have written about this issue in other posts, so I won’t elaborate here. Of course, it’s good those blogs exist, because they give victims of narcissistic abuse a voice, something they never had before. Certainly not all of them are run by narcissists, but sadly, many are. The problem is that the narcissistic ones are completely un-self-aware, and can’t see how damaging their own actions are, and there’s no surefire way to tell the good blogs from the bad ones.

I admire Yara’s courage in creating a blog about this incredibly stigmatized disorder–something very few people with NPD have done–as well as being so determined and motivated to recover and maybe one day even become NPD-free.

Yara was eventually diagnosed with NPD herself and was kind enough to write about her journey in this guest post. So without further ado, here is her post.

*****

Recovering from NPD: My Journey to Self-Awareness.

By Yara Aiko

black_woman_in_mirror

Learning about narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

I first learned of Narcissistic Personality Disorder about 6 years ago. I had a rocky relationship with my mother and my aunt, a psychiatric nurse, shared that she thought my mom had NPD. The message was: it’s not you, it’s her.

It was a powerful revelation and one I needed to hear at the time. I had lived a lifetime of being told everything was my fault – I was my mother’s scapegoat.

During those early days I learned a lot about NPD. I read everything I could find on it and it spoke to me: The projection, the splitting, the gaslighting. It all made perfect sense. My focus was on healing from narcissist abuse, learning to manage the narcissists in my life (I realized it wasn’t just her), establishing boundaries, and navigating going no contact. I was the victim.

Narcissism as a defense against my mother’s abuse.

Growing up with my mother, I was forced to develop a hard shell. In order to successfully scapegoat me throughout my childhood, she had smeared me to anyone who would listen—making herself the victim. In turn, people disliked me before they ever met me. I didn’t realize that until years later. Instead from a very young age, I internalized the messages I got from the world and assumed I was unlikable and unlovable.

I strove for perfection in order to prove my value—to the world and to myself. I refused to show weakness or to fail.  Having not grown up with it, I craved approval. I would become obsessed with understanding others’ opinions of me and trying to change their minds if it seemed they didn’t like me. I experienced anger when I couldn’t understand why I was so disliked. When someone showed me positive attention—when someone liked me—I liked them back hard and we formed fast and furious relationships that always seemed to fall apart within months for reasons I could not understand.

There was so much I didn’t realize. So many years lost. So many relationships ruined. It’s painful how un-self-aware I was for so long. There were so many layers of self-protection. Every time a relationship went wrong, I obsessed over why. But there was one thing I never considered: how my behavior made other people feel. I had very low empathy for others.

I couldn’t see past my own pain and emotions. Furthermore, I hadn’t grown up with empathy. No one had ever cared about my feelings. So in addition to never having experienced it, I had never seen it practiced, or learned how to be empathetic. I didn’t even realize I was missing empathy. In fact, I thought I was an extremely empathetic person, never realizing I was confusing sympathy for empathy. How can you miss color if you’ve only ever seen black and white?

Hitting rock bottom was my wake up call. 

At 34 I fell into a deep depression and sought therapy. They say a narcissist has to hit rock bottom before self-awareness is possible and I agree. At least that was the case for me. We spent almost a year working through my feelings of inadequacy, the pain of my childhood, putting into perspective the times I felt truly hurt or abandoned. Many of my painful experiences of abandonment or rejection stemmed from encounters with other Cluster B personalities — mostly other narcissists and sociopaths. Why was I drawn to these people throughout my life and why were they drawn to me? How was I so easily manipulated by them? Why had I allowed myself to be victimized all these years?

As I explored each of these questions, I began to experience breakthroughs – some big, some small, but they started coming fast and furious at one point. My son was in crisis—he was beginning to have behavioral trouble at school and I started to realize I was doing something very wrong in the way I was raising him. I saw him turning into me. The thought of him struggling throughout life feeling worthless and having these gaping insecurities was more than I could bear and it’s the thing that ultimately pushed me over the line into self-awareness.

It wasn’t just fleas. 

At 35 I was diagnosed with NPD. At first I didn’t even believe my therapist because I’d always read narcissists are incapable of seeing their own faults and behaviors and they certainly cannot change. Yes, I act like my mother sometimes, and I admit I may have “fleas”, but I don’t have the disorder, I thought. I don’t knowingly manipulate others or conduct smear campaigns. My mom is that way, but I’m not.  I was changing and growing. I was looking at my own behaviors – where they stemmed from, what my triggers were, taking responsibility for my actions– and I was making better choices about how to be there for others, most importantly, learning to practice empathy and be vulnerable.

But when I went back and looked at all those same books, websites, and forums through the lens of how others may see my behavior, as opposed to the lens of the abuse survivor, it started to make sense. When I reread the DSM thinking of myself, instead of my mother, I was hit like a ton of bricks. Seeing that others saw my behavior as abusive and toxic, my lifetime of failed relationships came into perspective. I realized I was the person people were going “no contact” with. Furthermore, I was now the narcissistic parent. It stung.

Searching for answers and support.

I went in search of others like me who realized they have the disorder and want to grow. But there was almost nothing. The vast majority of material is aimed at dealing with narcissists – but almost nothing for the narcissist who has become self-aware and wants to do better. We were completely written off as untreatable – too damaged to bother with. Even many insurance companies won’t cover therapy for us.

I thought about reaching out to other narcissistic abuse survivors on forums for support, realizing what I was going through had to be common. After all, research shows nearly 70 percent of adult children with an NPD parent have NPD themselves. I wanted to know: Was there anyone else like me out there and could they relate? What had they tried? What worked? What advice could they give for getting over this, because I was determined to get over this – not only for me, but for my kids.  But sadly, now that I realized I was a narcissist, the rules on the support forums and boards were clear —no narcissists allowed.

I had to do something to help self aware NPDs who wish to change.

Ironically, once I understood how NPD looks and feels from the other side, and given the staggering statistics, it became immediately and painfully obvious to me that a large portion of the people on the narcissistic abuse forums are narcissists themselves. They are painfully unaware but know that something is “off” with them emotionally. They recognize they are different from others but don’t understand exactly how, struggle through bouts of depression, question why all their relationships seem to fall apart, want desperately to recover from their childhood abuse —to finally be happy and feel that deep unconditional love they’ve never had– but have no idea that they themselves have the disorder. That’s why I created healingfromnpd.com.

My goal with Healing from NPD is that it will become a community: A safe space for NPDers searching for tools, advice and support so that they can do better. A place for those who believe they may have “fleas” to get an honest first-hand glimpse of what it’s actually like to have the disorder and become self-aware. A place for those who genuinely love someone with NPD to understand the disorder without the myths, misconceptions and vitriol that fills so many other websites dedicated to us “evil” narcissists.

Narcissists can change. We can grow. We just need the tools and resources to be able to do it. But first and foremost, we need self-awareness.

I jumped at the chance to do this guest piece for Down the Rabbit Hole precisely for these reasons. There are very few bloggers who are brave, honest and self-aware enough to have the tough, honest conversations about NPD – and she is one of them. I hope that the important work she is doing here will help destigmatize the disorder and help others on similar journeys. Together, I hope we—and others like us—can help change the face of NPD.

Please follow my blog at Healingfromnpd.com and join our brand new forums.

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35 thoughts on “Guest Post: Recovering from NPD: My Journey to Self-Awareness

  1. I get why people demonise persons with NPD, was banned from a very popular cptsd website for suggesting NPD can be treated and deep down they are wounded (their schema therapy formulation). I have no idea how bad my fleas are, if any, or if I’m NPD myself. I support your voices, I feel they’re much needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get why they demonize it too, and victims are righttfully angry. I went through that too. The problem is when they hold on to rage like some kind of trophy, and seem to have a vendetta against anyone with the disorder, or against even people who DON’T have the disorder but they just dislike (and then start calling them narcs just because they don’t like them). They are bullies and probably N themselves (who can’t face the truth). Hey, out of curiosity, what site were you banned from? (You don’t have to answer that if it makes you uncomfortable). But yeah, some of these site owners just won’t have it at all if you dare suggest NPD can be treated and will turn on you like a pack of wolves. That really needs to change and I’m trying to do that in my small way.

      You may just have fleas, or if you’re worried you have narcissism or NPD, you can take an online test or better, get a professional evaluation. If it turns out you do, don’t beat yourself up. You are not your disorder, you are a person who has a disorder. NPD is a trauma disorder, just like C-PTSD and is just a manifestation of it. If you’re not malignant and want to change, you CAN be treated or even cured. Schema therapy has been proven effective with a lot of NPDs. DBT, which traditionally has been used for people with BPD, has also been shown to work with some NPDs too. It’s not a cure, but it can help you be mindful and control your behaviors. But remember: just because you got banned from one of the hate blogs doesn’t mean you are a narc. Good luck. Thank you for your comments.

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      1. I agree that too often, people they dislike just get called narcs or flying monkeys. It’s really Us vs Them though I understand the rage, really.

        I was banned from “Healing Complex Trauma and PTSD” because while I absolutely stated clearly I condemn abuse, unfortunately humanising persons with NPD = I’m an abuser sympathiser. Nevermind that research done in forensic settings by psychologists and psychiatrists actually shows overwhelmingly that persons with NPD or ASPD (those branded as evil) have suffered extreme and prolonged abuse from young ages. Honestly in.my view, it is only luck which makes us NOT them..because somehow someone modelled empathy for us…so we didn’t end up ASPD. “The Boy who was raised as a dog” is one such book showing how one year d severe neglect = ASPD in an adult who was diagnosed with conduct disorder as a boy. There was no abuse and his parents were loving and his older brother grew up well-adjusted, but just ONE YEAR of severe abandonment as a baby = set him on a awful life course of being a delinquent and being punished for it.

        For me, I’m lucky that my therapist dies DBT and schema therapy with me (I suspect I’ve Avoidant PD with narc fleas) and yes both show great effectiveness with BPD and other PDs! 🙂

        I guess I’m still hurt by being turned on because before that I was praised for being informative,helpful, supportive and I really liked the founder of that website too.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It is very traumatizing to be ganged up on. They don’t seem to see that the way they act is very narcissistic and even sociopathic. I suspect many are malignant NPDs or even ASPDs who cannot see the truth about themselves and never will. They engage in projection, gaslighting, bullying and denial — and insist they are “only” C-PTSD and even empaths (while actually showing very little empathy). Hell, I’ve seen more empathy and less hatred among the narcs on the forums! I don’t doubt their stories of abuse though, and I’m sure that the abuse did that to them and they weren’t lucky to escape developing their disorder. It’s sad. If you escaped with only avoidant PD (I have that too) and fleas then you are very lucky (see my post, We Were The Lucky Ones — it might be on my other blog, Lucky Otters Haven if you can’t find it here). Even if you’re a self aware N, you are still lucky because you can change and know what you’re problem is!

          Yeah, I know all about the us versus them mentality (I hate it!) and the way they automatically pull out the “narc sympathizer” card if you try to explain they were abused or abandoned too, or that they can change. Well, fine, I own it! I’m a narc sympathizer!
          I know the board of which you are speaking. I never posted there so I don’t have any experiences on that board, but it was another popular site and a few of her flying monkeys. They are on Blogspot.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I’ve read that post of yours and agree very much with it. Honestly a lot of research agrees with it as well as well as a lot of books written by clinicians who treat personality disorders.

          I honestly wish people understood that having sympathy for how abusers are made (as they’re abused who internalised their abusers) doesn’t mean condoning or accepting abusive acts.

          Maybe being a “narc sympathiser” is a badge of honour 😀

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        3. It’s like those victims never read a psychology book. Their hatred runs so deep they hang onto it like a trophy. The reason they can’t let go of it is because if they did, they would be forced to look at themselves and see that they are exactly what they despise — and that would destroy them and negate everything they have said about themselves. They take no responsibility for their own healing and keep shifting the blame to everyone else, calling anyone who disagrees with them a narc or narc sympathizer, and act like their own shit doesn’t stink. They’re also paranoid and see narcissism even in normal behavior. If that’s not narcissistic I don’t know what is. It’s very dangerous because people who are newly No Contact and join these boards have no idea they have just walked into a snakepit and might wind up traumatized again if they don’t keep drinking the Koolaid. Other points of view are just not tolerated. It’s almost like a cult. Most know nothing about psychology and treatments and have never read anything outside of others who support their own narrow world view. If I’m a narc sympathizer, I wear that badge with honor!

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        4. Yep, I think they misunderstand and take things as “victim blaming”. What was done to us isn’t our fault, but we have to take responsibility for our own healing, our own recovery. We can’t offload that hard and painful work to others. I do understand that the paranoia is probably hypervilligance…which is probably a necessary stage…but it’s also in my opinion a stage which has to become less black and white and more nuanced.

          It’s indeed like a cult and it’s so frustrating to see the demonization, the lack of empathy. And the lack of psychology knowledge. It’s disappointing that even some therapists agree with that view.

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        5. I agree with you. Yes, of course it was unfair what happened to them, and it shouldn’t have happened. But, it did, and they have 2 choices: (1) stay stuck in misery and the victim mentality; or (2) help themselves. Time can’t be turned back and the damage undone. Their abusers aren’t going to come and make amends to them and undo the damage. So, unfair as it may be, they have to take responsibility for themselves, but they’d rather sit around wallowing in hatred and self pity which is only going to make them more miserable.

          Yes, even some therapists feel the same way and refuse to treat anyone with NPD or even BPD (or any cluster B disorder). I remember I once had a nice intake sesssion with a therapist. We seemed to hit it off well and I was lookng forward to working with her. She told me she had to order my psychiatric records first before she could start seeing me. Well, lo and behold, a week later she called me and said (coldly), “I can’t take you on as a client. I don’t work with borderlines.” Ouch! Maybe the reason these disorders are so “incurable” is because so many therapists refuse to take them on and it’s so hard for them to find someone to work with, so they give up.

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        6. Yep, persons with BPD are often labelled as “difficult”, seen as “manipulative” … often it’s the most traumatised who are the persons who are most “difficult” to work with. I really like schema therapy’s conceptualisation kg BPD (and other complex trauma survivors) as “needy not greedy”. Needy often gets shamed and stigmatised as bad etc but we do heal in supportive relationships as childhood trauma is often interpersonal trauma.

          That therapist…wow. So awful. Honestly yeah, few therapists want to take them on and I agree that’s why these disorders are branded as incurable…yet it’s acknowledged that persons with schizophrenia (typically persons with schizophrenia have low insight) do benefit from supportive psychotherapy and chronic illness management therapy.

          I genuinely believe a lot of the PDs are variations of complex trauma.

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        7. I definitely believe they are variations of C-PTSD. Even Pete Walker’s book about C-PTSD (which is highly recommended even on the hater boards) acknowledges that narcissism is just one reaction to trauma and is a form of c-PTSD. (They conveniently ignore that though).

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        8. I love that book by Pete Walker. A lot of similar books by other authors say the same thing as well. And they’re all people who’ve actually worked with BPD, NPD, ASPD.

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      2. Thank you for reading my word spew! I just feel like you’re one of the few blogs around who don’t demonise persons with NPD and ASPD. I mean persons with BPD can also engage in certain behaviours which less understanding people brand as “manipulative” but one can understand why they do so out of great abandonment despair and emotional pain WITHOUT giving a free pass to hurtful behaviours

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        1. BPD isn’t that different from NPD really (both are due to abandonment and trauma), and BPD used to be almost as stigmatized. But BPDs have gotten together and worked hard to change the stigma against them, started many blogs, and now they are more tolerated, even on a few of the anti-narc boards (though not on all!) The same can be done with NPDers and people who want to help them, but for some reason, there has been no grass roots movement to address NPD the way there has for borderlines. The woman who started the site linked to in this post, me, and a few others are working to change that. I hope we can make a few inroads over time and that more self-aware Ns and people who want to understand them will jump on board. I think a lot of Ns are scared and rightfully so. Right now, other than this lady’s blog, and a few forums like over at Psychforums and Psych Central, there are few places where people who don’t demonize NPDs (and people who have the disorder) can post and not be attacked.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Lucky Otters Haven and commented:

    A very insightful and courageous post written by a woman who once identified only as a survivor of narcissistic abuse, but was later diagnosed with NPD herself. She is determined to become NPD-free one day and working hard to change her behaviors. and find real happiness.

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    1. What you’re saying about C-PTSD I think it right on target. My therapist says that as I child she believes I had Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is in the same clusters as PTSD. RAD if untreated in childhood becomes one of the cluster B’s in adulthood.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post has me bewildered.

    The author admits to traits often suffered by the scapegoated victims of narcissistic abuse, including self-sabotaging behavior, depression, futilely seeking love from narcissists who remind of the emotionally unavailable parent, and craving the “approval” from others one did not get in childhood.

    These are NOT the traits of narcissism.

    Many adults who were scapegoated as children have these self-defeating behavior patterns, and their low self-esteem for themselves, coupled with a disproportionate empathy and esteem for the opinion of others, and their own monstrous inner critic (which makes them attract more narcissists into their lives) usually prevents them from becoming narcissistic themselves.

    The two syndromes, a consciously disproportionately low, verses a consciously disproportionately high self esteem, cannot exist simultaneously, even though narcissism is birthed from the low, in what can become an unchecked emulation cycle.

    Narcissists care what others think of them.

    But their self worth is not dependent upon other’s approval of them, or of their behavior. If someone calls a true narcissist out on their behavior, the narcissist just ejects and smears for non supply compliance. The non admirer is deemed stupid, or non valuable as a human, for not idolizing the narcissist “correctly”. It is not the narcissist who seeks to improve self, to win other’s approval.

    The author says she was diagnosed a narcissist herself, but as a trait can only vaguely state she herself “manipulated” others. That does not sound like Sam Vatkin to me.

    This begs the question in my mind, is manipulating narcissists we have inadvertently attracted into our own life (by being susceptible and hurting) a real disorder of the ego, or survival in an abusive relationship that at times might even be necessary?

    And if “manipulation” instead of communication, becomes survival habit, because we are still suffering PTSD (and we feel everyone is out to get us unless we do this) is that really narcissism, or like I said, a complex post traumatic stress disorder that can be healed, precisely because we, unlike the true narcissist, admit it’s unhealthy and unkind?

    Even Sam is semi healed because he admits these things.

    It seems any degree of self awareness and not wanting to hurt others, or feeling “shame” or “remorse” when finding out we might have inadvertently hurt others, is a sign we do NOT have narcissism, and will never get it. The author says she had this feeling. She might have nipped something in the bud, but to say it would have developed definitely into narcissism, well, I don’t get that.

    It saddens me to think that the victims of narcissistic abuse might still have inner critics telling them “watch out or you will become bad like your bad parent.”

    And there is a reason, in my opinion, the scapegoat often grows up not being able to relate emotionally to most other people, and it’s not because they lack empathy.

    In all honesty, the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea how much pain emotionally abused children carry with them their whole lives. We cannot, even as children, relate to flippant, uncaring, the detached, the purposely non involved, or those persons unwilling to feel pain, or suffer for themselves, or others. The divide can be the opposite of that suggested by this post.

    Were you kind to animals as a child? Think about it. If you were, you were not a narcissist. Animals suffer, and therefore empathic children can empathize with them more easily than they can relate to the majority of mankind.

    Whereas MOST people in today’s society lack empathy; those who have suffered themselves as children have a disproportionate ability to feel empathy for others who have also embraced true pain and suffering.

    If someone does not like his neighbor, but is kind to a homeless dog, chances are – Not a Narcissist.

    Thus they write blogs, with little regard or cleaning up, or perfecting how “they look” in other’s eyes. It’s not a Brag Blog to blurt out one’s personal traumatic experiences, or to publicly defend oneself in direct proportion to how you’ve been publicly slandered by your own family, by any stretch of the imagination.

    Moreover, I believe, like Lucky Otter, one of my blogging heroines, most trauma bloggers further pour out their empathetic hearts to others, in true empathy, so those others’ sufferings will be lessoned, and that others might be consoled. It is a very self-less act; the opposite of a narcissistic one. And like all kind acts, we are not to be called narcissistic because as a side effect we too, are self comforted. There is nothing wrong with loving oneself in a healthy way.

    Not that I have not read all of the blogs out there, or even L.O.’s earlier posts, but if this is blogging narcissism, than may God help all of us.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I think the reason she can have suffered all the traits of someone who was abused and suffers from PTSD and still have NPD is because NPD is caused by abuse, and she is not high on the N spectrum. Another therapist might not have even given her an NPD diagnosis at all. I don’t believe it’s all black or all white — there are shades of grey, and everyone has differing degrees of narcissism. Maybe she has just enough to qualify for the dx, but not enough to be malignant or to not come to self awareness or suffered the same way any other victim would have. I don’t know how well this resolves your confusion (and it is confusing!) but I think it’s entirely possible to be both. Yara is a perfect example of why I hate the us versus them, black and white thinking so much that you find on so many other narc-abuse sites. People like her fall between the cracks. If anyone else here can shed some more light on this or answer this question better, please speak up!

      Also, thank you for calling me one of your blogging heroines! ❤ I try to be of help, even though I started this primarily as a way to help myself. As far as this blogger wanting to help others, I think she's reached a point in her self discovery where that is possible, and of course, she is blogging to help herself too. Blogging is powerful therapy! (and really cheap too!) I hope this helps answer your questions.

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    2. Thanks for your comment! These ARE traits of narcissism. Our self worth IS dependent on other’s approval of us — from that outside, that’s what you call “supply”. This is what it looks and feel like. This is where it comes from and how it develops. I could not see it for all these years, because of the us vs. them mentality and the misconceptions about NPD. It looks much, much different from the outside than it feels on the inside — and this is the reason I believe so many NPDers are un-self-aware.

      As for manipulation, I am no more “manipulative” than the average non-disordered person. Not all narcissists are manipulative. The DSM outlines nine behaviors for NPD, and for the diagnosis, you must me FIVE of them, not all nine. I was kind to animals as a child. I once did an experiment where I put salt on a slug to see if it would really melt and it did — I felt guilty about that for 10 years (!) because I had killed something for my own amusement. Heck, I still feel bad when I think about it. And, guess what, I’m a narcissist! A diagnosed one.
      We are not all the same. And a lot of information you hear on the internet is just flat out wrong. That’s why I wanted to start blogging to help people understand what it’s really like for us, how we really think. If more people understood, I don’t think we’d be as demonized as we are — a lot of the stuff I see about narcissists — including Sam Vaknin– quite honestly feels more ASPD to me than NPD.

      You said, “It saddens me to think that the victims of narcissistic abuse might still have inner critics telling them “watch out or you will become bad like your bad parent.” But 68% of children of NPDers grow up to be exactly that. We are not monsters. I never meant to hurt anyone and inside I was hurting more than anyone could ever know. But without growing up with empathy I had never learned how to use it or feel it. My learned behaviors (which is exactly what the disorder is) from my NPD mother are all I ever knew and I didn’t realize how sick my family was, or how abnormal my thoughts and behaviors were. This is NPD.

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      1. I still stand by my words. If you have traits that are both empath, or normally ordered, that happen to be traits that an NPD might also maintain, THAT does not mean you are a narcissist, or we are all narcissists.

        Everyone’s self worth to some degree is tested by what other’s think of them, to some degree. Even courageous people who do not act to solicit the admiration or good opinion of others, feel pain from Other’s disapproval.

        And because narcissists are born from abuse, and because we all have some degrees of it, it does not explain how you could have the diagnoses.

        Now of course you could have traits of it you are mentioning here, but you are not. Narcissists on low supply could certainly have a lot of the traits of others, and some are perpetually in that “split” of that cycle, but it’s how they respond to these things that makes them a narcissist.

        For example, sometimes in relationships, a low spectrum narc, harder to diagnose, will suddenly leave their partner of many years without any remorse, or looking back, because they have suddenly found a partner that better provides the high supply. The key is they do not show or have empathy for the person they left, or “care what the other person thinks about them” because it was ALL about supply (even if they didn’t get much of it to put them in the high cycle) and if they go back someday, which is rare, it will still only be about supply, not empathy or love.

        Now if you felt empathy for a slug for ten years, that would indicate your personality is the OPPOSITE of narcissism and Cluster B disorders, not that you are a low spectrum narcissist. What kid hasn’t killed a bug or been tempted to salt a gross slug?

        So please tell me, are there other traits you have that are distinctly narcissistic that you are just not describing here, and if you did, your dx would be more comprehendable and apparent? Did the doctor tell you what they were? You did mention manipulation. But even then, that is just a characteristic that many people have, and to have narcissistic tendencies does NOT make a person diagnosably a narcissist.

        Lucky Otter, I can understand HOW she COULD be one, but she gives no EVIDENCE or indications here that she is one. That’s why it still incomprehensible to me.

        Isn’t the Empath Narcissist a contradiction in terms?

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      2. Also, please let me clarify my position. I said that a narcissist’s self esteem is not dependent upon what others think of them. This does not mean they don’t seek or need ADMIRATION from others for supply, or that this supply isn’t dependent upon receiving, or feeling like one is receiving, admiration. But caring, and correcting oneself because one’s behavior hurts others, is not a characteristic of narcissism. Narcissists don’t tend to be introspective, self examining, or shamed by supply seeking behavior.

        A narcissist thinks of him or herself as superior to others, whether in low or high supply. Their inner critic in low supply beats them up simply for not garnishing that supply. And that’s what I meant by their “esteem” for themselves is not dependent upon others viewing them as a good person.

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  4. Revisiting this post.

    “But 68% of children of NPDers grow up to be exactly that.” If this statistic is true (it is a determination that cannot be verified by statistical analysis, for how many NPD parents are even diagnosed?) it would indicate to me that psychiatrists are wrongly dxing people who simply suffer from very complex PTSD with NPD. Alarming. I agree that Sam Vatkin smacks more of a form of Aspergers than NPD.

    For example, clearly there are higher percentages of NPD resulting from being the golden child of an NPD parent, than from being the scapegoat of an NPD parent. In fact, scapegoats typically turn out to be empaths, or even HSP. But here’s the key – and perhaps those of you I see as empaths (not NPD’s) fall into this category: Scapegoats, before they are “unraveled”, will often openly admit imagined, disproportionately selfish traits. They have been programmed to do this by the abusive parent who is always telling them they are bad.

    Thus, when seeking psychiatric help (which most narcissists DON’T do) the scapegoat is basicly setting themselves up with being diagnosed with that for which really their parent should have been diagnosed.

    This is so tragic should it happen to a scapegoat – because cognitive therapy for NPD is almost directly opposite therapy for someone with CPTSD. To receive therapy and be treated as a narcissist when you are really complex post traumatic stress disordered (just because these two disorders overlap in some) is highly counter-indicated. I think this may be happening in this country due to it being behind in even recognizing complex post traumatic stress disorder as real.

    It is perfectly normal for a victimized scapegoat, for example, to develop a disproportionate concern for what others think of them – and this will stay with them whenever they are triggered. This is because typically they have been set up and have had their “good” reputation destroyed fraudulently by the manipulating, abusive NPD parent their entire lives. But caring is healthy. In fact, caring enough to get justly angry is a break though in the healing process. Just anger at how one’s reputation has been destroyed should not be suppressed as one that is unhealthy – for it gives energy to heal – and unravel further. The second stage is grief. This too should be embraced for a full recovery and ultimately experience peace and joy.

    We are a social people – and it is a sign of flat effect and psychosis if one does not care if others think of them as “bad” or “evil”. When I said narcissists don’t care what others think of them – I meant that they don’t “care” if their victims see them as “bad or evil” – which is a moral quality. Once the victim will not serve the NPD’s supply, exposing the beast as bad, and cannot be manipulated back into the game, the victims are simply disposed of as “unuseful”.

    Non narcissists don’t just “dispose” of people for not meeting “supply” – for they would care not only in the sense that it would bother their conscience to use and dispose of people like material objects, but they would also “care” that they would be viewed as bad or hurtful to others. So I re-emphasize my point that it is always the “not caring” element that pushes people towards the anti social, psychopathic and Cluster B spectrums – children who don’t care anymore because caring hurts too much. And think of the sociopath who murders people. Yes, he cares that people view him as a “winner” but does not care if people view him as evil.

    I think that manipulation for supply – and a clear definition of what supply consists – should be necessary components of a proper dx for NPD.

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    1. What you write here is really interesting, and that’s why I’ve become sort of disillusioned with labels in general. I wish there was more to say, but I think I agree with you. And, btw, what does “unraveled” mean, as in your statement, “before a scapegoat is unraveled…” I’m intrigued.

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      1. “Unraveled” is a term I’ve always used to describe my “unraveling” of the false premises, tangled thinking errors or “knots”, and self-accusing mental habits NPD parents instill in our brains with their abuse. It means to “de or un-brainwash” oneself. As you know, memories of traumatic incidents that were suppressed (for survival) in one’s brain as a child, are often recovered much later in life. These recovered memories – even nightmares – are simply the impetus the adult subconsious is giving the adult conscous state to help it “unravel” when one is strong enough and ready to do so. We must never be afraid to look at the truth of our past and unravel it, knowing the fullness of truth will set us free.

        I was shocked when a psychiatrist I met who specialized in PTSD told me I was the first victim of severe abuse she ever met that not only “unraveled” herself, but that I was using correct terms and more knowledgeable (as an autodidact) in complex post traumatic stress syndrome than most psychiatrists – and qualified to teach them on the subject. I was using terms like “unraveled” before I knew they were used by “professionals” and those trained to “de-brainwash” abuse victims. As a fellow Catholic, you might appreciate Otter, that I was not coached at all in my recovery by a CPTSD counsellor, and attribute my recovery to Mary under the title “Our Lady Undoer of Knots”, whom I adopted as a fill-in or “second” mother as a very young child. It is fitting in our theology for we believe she was the only human “not” in the fallen state. Basically all that means is she was not subject to brainwashing – and therefore not only bearTruth Himself but bear a role in leading others to Truth. And for us, it was never our fault that we were born in an imperfect state, “subject” to the manipulations of disordered parents; therefore God would never “hold us responsible” for something of which we are not “guilty”.

        My blog is entitled Unraveled and the Birth of Joy, in part to explain this healing process.

        When we “unravel”, we “go back to our birth” before our parents “mispatterned” our minds. In effect we “untie”, “untangle” or “unravel” knotted patterns in our brains that restrict us – that keep us “down”. We then “rewire” our brain into more “correct” or “realistic” thinking, and to our surprise discover not only who were truly meant to be – but that we are all born innocent. Discovering we are innocent, and not responsible for mental survival strategies assumed as children to cope with parental abuse – is so necessary for full recovery.

        I have heard even sexual abuse victims bemoan that they had an involuntary sexual reaction, did not tell their parents or stop the abuse, when they were beneath the age of reason to ever be able to do so. This acceptance of imposed guilt – even if they are saying well, I was just 2% responsible – is what stops them from healing completely and realizing their correct potential. They are not only not to blame at all – but are specially loved by God.

        There are theories that all forms of mental illness are triggered by early childhood trauma that go back to the teachings of Thomas Aquinas. This is not to say that those who have full blown delusional disorders should not monitor symptoms with medicine, to protect themselves and others – but it is a theory that smacks true and gives hope – that with complex cognitive therapy – any willing patient can “unravel” and be fully cured.

        That is why it literally pains me when I see overtly empathetic and compassionate individuals claiming to have some degrees of narcissism. Caring what others think of oneself might be called a “narcissistic” trait by ignorant counsellors – but because that trait is disproportionate in those simply traumatized – it should not be listed as such for narcissism in my opinion. It is also too vague a description of a trait. Narcissists usually care if they are seen to have power, intelligence or looks for example, but seem oblivious to whether or not they are seen as manipulative or condescending. Look at Trump for example.

        It is also a little advertised fact that most psychiatrists suffer from narcissism more proportionately than others, and therefore might enjoy mislabeling others with that of which they subconcously fear they are afflicted.

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        1. As a side note, I also have a theory about those who suffer from bipolar disorder, and this is something I just intuit from those with bipolar that I have met, and have been unable to formally explain in psychiatric terms why I think it is so. Nonetheless, I intuit it strongly.

          I believe those with bipolar are extremely gifted – particularly in creative abilities and an “intuitive” sense. Their true potential to change the world for the better is extreme. I have met one victim of sexual abuse who basically unraveled his own bipolar disorder with spiritual and cognitive therapy. He is on no medication, writes and teaches at a college level. He is amazing. (This is not to be confused with those who go off their medication because they do not like to take it, and wind up buying six cars with money they don’t have and flying to Vegas, lol.)

          I can only explain my theory by saying that those empathic young children who are extremely intelligent and creative who suffer severe trauma – must maintain their creative/intuitive/energetic side – but now – because of the stress, it sometimes degrades into one in which they are pelleted with “intuitions” or “input” both dark and light. This is frightening so the child starts swinging back and forth between that and a depressed or self suppressed state which may result in depression but feels “safer”.

          As an HSP, this very much could have been me – but instead I began to suffer from a constant, sub surface anxiety and depression. When I realized that anxiety and depression is simply symptomatic that “one was lied to” and that I was “innocent” and that there was something I needed to “remember” or “unravel” to understand I am “safe” now, it was a big mental step in my self taught recovery.

          But to make a long story short, after I did “unravel” that was when my intuitive capabilities “blossomed”. I am now, among other things, an HSP investigative assistant for a criminal investigator.

          One time more recently, during a situation in which I was extremely stressed and lacking in sleep – I had a very disturbing experience while driving in which I suddenly became disoriented – and was seeing names on street signs that were incorrect for their location. It so frightened me as I thought I was having visual hallucinations – and becoming paranoid – (were people switching the signs?) the first time in my life. I even thought the troubled young lady I was driving somewhere might have slipped something into my drink.

          When I discussed this with an expert I was told no. Sleep deprivation is something that is commonly used to induce “psychic phenomena” in those with a sixth sense. During such trauma, someone with these “extra abilities” may experience more deeply meaningful and intuitive things, and things that are darker in nature, but not delusional. That I questioned it was evidence I was not delusional. And I was surprised to learn that in reality on the back of signs are sometimes really coded addresses for the military during emergency situations and certain operations. I was told I was probably intuiting the deeper meaning behind the signs because I was sleep deprived at that time and because of the high alert situation I was in and was feeling.

          Therefore my theory – that the first hallucinatory experience a bipolar child or teen might experience – might really be from unresolved CPTSD trauma – and if they could unravel the disorder – to control their intuitive or “second sense” gifts – they would be amazing. It is also well known that little children who have endured great trauma , even brain damage, or had near death experiences often have, for lack of a better word, clairvoyant abilities and are more in touch with spiritual realms. This is not spiritual realms in the creepy sense but in the sense that is healthy and uplifting (they are innocent!) such as communication with holy souls sending inspiring messages to loved ones.

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        2. I’ve been pretty confused lately, which is why I haven’t made any new blog posts for awhile. At some point I’ll explain more but I also feel like there’s nothing new I can add to everything that’s already been said. I feel like I’ve moved onto the next step of healing and letting go of this obsession with labels — both of myself and others. (I should probably write a post about that!) I haven’t been writing much about narcissism in general for awhile, but your words here give me a lot to think about and you make some very good points. All these labels can be a very muddy, murky thing and maybe it’s symptoms we need to look at and work on, rather than trying to fit some psychiatric label and come up with a cure for a “disorder.” I didn’t want you to think I’ve been avoiding the conversation (or avoiding you because I consider you a friend!) — I just don’t have much else to add. I don’t disagree with you, though.

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        3. Otter – I consider you a friend too as well – and a quality one at that – one who can question my arguments and words and I theirs, without either one of us getting offended, because we realize disagreement does not equal disrespect of persons. There is not only much to be gained from knowing you, but I am humbled to know you, and consider your friendship a gift from God, no matter how much or how little we are actually “in contact”.

          Your words today remind me for two reasons of C S Lewis.

          The first is that he wrote about personal “unraveling” (and it comes to me now this can also be defined as “the work each soul does to mature or find truth”). He said this:

          “A sum can be put right: but only by going back til you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, ‘with backward mutters of dissevering power’ –or else not.”
          ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

          He may have written these words in reference to people who “choose” the wrong path. (He said he doesn’t think they necessarily perish but must undo and rework correctly their journey.) But I think his words can also apply to children who develop erroneous mental survival “strategies” which we commonly call disorders or mental illness, due to trauma that was not their fault. The “evil” was unfairly imposed upon them, and it can be “undone” or “unraveled” by “going backward and reworking it”.

          Lately I think in 3 D. (LOL.) I am picturing time or one’s lifespan like an equator around a globe or heavenly body. One starts out in life on a tangled path, and as one matures and comes full circle around the globe one starts undoing or unraveling knots back around again towards the truth. It is kind of like going backwards, recalling memories, to figure things out. I like this analogy as well, because just as when untangling a necklace or fine chain, there is a point after doing the hardest work, where the unraveling “speeds up”, the knots seem to dissolve on their own, and then the whole necklace pulls straight. It is similiar with time. As we age, time seems to accelerate, and we lose much of the anxieties of the past that resulted in more tangles and kept us bound in knots.

          But the second reason you reminded me of Lewis, is he had a similiar unraveling, although his was one of conversion to faith. In his autobiography, at the end, he writes something about falling to his knees, and this being the beginning the story, so paradoxically, and strangely enough, he didn’t feel the need to write about himself anymore. In other words, he had come out of himself (out from inside his knot) and advanced to a higher spiritual realm, so he realized it was not so much “about himself” anymore.

          Stay happy Otter, and stay away from that hideous green artificial turf.

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  5. Oh – and when you said “maybe (psychiatrists) should work on symptoms (not labels)” – I think you are on to something – but have not arrived quite at it yet.

    There are practically no psychiatrists or cognitive counsellors out there who take the time or have the knowledge to help patients personally “unravel” or “heal”. It is a very personal endeavor, very unique to each patient, and the degree to which the therapist would have to be intimate with the client’s background would be almost infinite.

    Think about it.

    The mental health community is TOO focused on treating only “symptoms” by counseling and medicating for them (not that there isn’t a need for this) because that’s how they make money. But if patients were fully healed via unraveling, there would be no need for psychiatrists and therapists, much as the more you have figured out, the less you “need” to write as a therapy.

    Therefore, I rest my case, that God is the ultimate therapist. And it makes sense from an unraveling perspective. We realize we couldn’t have found our way out of a knot on our own, from the inside. Someone, or Some ONE, must have been pulling from the outside – in the spiritual realm. I would even add that by the power of God, many loving spirits from the spiritual demension help us unravel, especially God’s mother, the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady Undoer of Knots. She is the “good” mother who leads us to Truth.

    https://stgermaineblog.com/category/the-fine-art-of-jewelry-repair-a-post-about-unraveling/

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