Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

It’s a familiar placation that can be really irritating to hear, and one which is usually spoken at exactly that same moment at which it’s most irritating.
Nevertheless, there is more often than not something good to be gleaned from many an unfortunate experience – IF one can be bothered to find it.

In all likelihood, each of us either suffers from a mental disorder ourselves, or knows someone who does. Family, friends, either or both. In either case, you’ve suffered as a result. If you’re not a psychopath yourself, then you’ve felt empathic hurt for this person(s) in your life who is the psychopath or narcissist, and have considered long and hard what you might do to better the situation; to find ‘something’ which could help either that person, or yourself. This never ending search can lead in all sorts of directions and is extremely energy intensive.

For those who have a friend or family member who is a Narcissist or Psychopath, it’s my conclusion that your healthiest option is to cut them out of your life.

It sounds harsh, I know; that’s because it is.
If you have lived with such a person in your life, you might have secretly thought of this option, felt guilty for even considering it, and dismissed it as a result of societal pressures and conformities. After all, who does not want to help someone whom they love or care for?
Help cannot be given unless it is desired. That’s the bottom line. It's a matter of Free Will. Try as you might, your efforts will be for naught unless your help is TRULY wanted (and even when those words are used, it’s not always the truthful request). You’ll try and try, and try again, and sooner or later you’ll tire of having your efforts flung in your face.

The harsh conclusion of completely dissociating with such personalities is strictly a matter of self preservation and protection. One cannot maintain a healthy relationship with a Narcissist, and any attempt will inevitably end badly for the victim – and yes – ‘victim’ is the correct word for anyone attempting to cultivate or maintain such a relationship.

If this is all beginning to sound familiar, one must firstly identify the Narcissist:

According to the DSM IV, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
by the American Psychiatric Association, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
can be diagnosed if at least 5 of the following symptoms are present:

1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and
talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
In popular usage, the terms narcissism, narcissist, and narcissistic denote
absurd vanity and are applied to people whose ambitions and aspirations are much
grander than their evident talents.

2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Translation: Narcissists cultivate solipsistic or "autistic" fantasies, which is to say that
they live in their own little worlds (and react with affront when reality dares
to intrude).

3. Believes he is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Translation: Narcissists think that everyone who is not special and superior
is worthless. By definition, normal, ordinary, and average aren't special and
superior, and so, to narcissists, they are worthless.

4. Requires excessive admiration
Translation: Excessive in two ways: they want praise,
compliments, deference, and expressions of envy all the time, and they want to
be told that everything they do is better than what others can do. Sincerity is
not an issue here; all that matter are frequency and volume.

5. Has a sense of entitlement
Translation: They expect automatic compliance with their
wishes or especially favorable treatment, such as thinking that they should
always be able to go first and that other people should stop whatever they're
doing to do what the narcissists want, and may react with hurt or rage when
these expectations are frustrated.

6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends
Translation: Narcissists use other people to get what
they want without caring about the cost to the other people.

7. Lacks empathy
This may have two forms: 1. a narcissist may simply not have a
representation for certain emotions and may simply be incapable of correctly
interpreting emotional signals of others or 2. may make correct interpretations
but considers the emotions of others to be inconsequential and irrelevant to
self, worth knowing only as a means for manipulation. The latter is typical of
the psychopath.

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him

9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes

If alarm bells are ringing after reading this list of symptoms, then there are a number of things you know regarding the narcissistic personality. Everyone has narcissistic traits – they’re part of the human condition; but a person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder takes these traits to new lows. The Narcissist victimises themselves almost as much as anyone around them. They live breathe and sleep these traits, and anything good about them as an individual will be eaten away until they are but a shell of their former selves; truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

They are completely lacking any self-awareness. They believe they are, but they only identify with the ‘false self’, crafted over years of self-deception and cocooned in the elaborate menagerie of lies and fantasy that is their world, their reality. Their true selves are hidden away and eventually lost. They are often intelligent persons who have all the necessary ingredients to make something of themselves, but their own belief that they are more creative, more clever, possess greater skills of reason and deduction, inevitably destroys & undermines any chance of them progressing as a person or of maintaining anything in their lives which could potentially help them on the road to being a person with a healthy psyche and sense of self (job, home, friendship).

Add to the mix their paranoia, and inability to assess anything or anyone within realistic terms, and you have an utterly destructive concoction.

The Narcissists’ overpowering sense of entitlement, grandiose fantasies, delusions of grandeur, (they are as perfect as they come – just ask them!) are generally not correlated with, or justified by, any real accomplishments in their lives (whether such accomplishments are of the conventional variety or not).
They feel ‘entitled’ – to anything and everything: your time, your admiration, your awe, attention, love, resources – both emotional and monetary. When you, or anyone else, attempt to deprive them of their entitlements you are guilty of not feeding their fantasy, the paranoia programme kicks into high gear and they suspect you, members of their family, anyone they know - even strangers on the street, of plotting against them – colluding and conniving to plan their failure and downfall. You do this because you are inferior and therefore envious of their superior qualities (looks, thoughts, powers of reason, etc.) and you are out for revenge.

Of course, the opposite is more likely the case; friends & family members of these mentally ill persons are probably trying to help; it is the Narcissists’ own actions and behaviours mirrored by those around them that is the destructive force in their life.

As the Narcissist matures, matters are frequently complicated by secondary problems manifested as a result of their illness: depression, misdiagnosis and unnecessary or unhelpful medication, prescription or illicit drug abuse, inability to keep a job or attend school regularly, and on and on.

Cannibalism in Autumn – SalvadorDali

They chase after fantasy and make-believe. They create a reality where the carrot is also stick, they fear closeness with another person and so they rebuff true friends and partners (often with great vitriol which will seem to come from out of nowhere) thus creating the very situation they fear most – alone, without anyone to admire them, unwanted. They have become the snake that eats its own tail. Hence the term ‘Narcissist’.

Narcissus of Greek mythology, spurned the love of Echo – the passive nymph who wanted nothing more than to be with the beautiful Narcissus and could only speak in response to being spoken to. They might have lived happily ever after but she was not the only nymph to be rebuffed. One of these sought divine help from Nemesis, who complied, cursing Narcissus to fall in love with him while being unable to accept his own love. Thus did Narcissus see his reflection in a silvery pool when leaning to drink, only to find that the beauty fled from his touch returning a few moments later. On it went until his body wasted and died at the waters’ edge, ever seeking the love and companionship of his reflection.

Metamorphosis of Narcissus – Salvador Dali

(Now anyone who has perused my blog probably knows I’m not one for belief in gods of any flavour, but the mythological story here serves to understand the etymology of the words and names of Echo, Narcissist, and Nemesis)

If you know a Narcissist and want nothing but to care for them, you echo – or mirror their own perceived beauty and desirousness; your enabling behaviour will allow them to deceive you (as you deceive yourself) and you may think your love and caring is reciprocated, for a while. But they see in you only their reflection, your only usefulness in your expressions of admiration and words of praise.
The Narcissist becomes the Nemesis, the cause of their undoing. Your echo no longer sustains their ego, any attempt at intimacy or understanding disrupts the perfect reflection.
If you are a determined and devoted Echo, you too will be undone; less than you could or should be.

If at this point you’re thinking that you might have hit on a solution – seeking the help of medical professionals to provide some personal tools for self help, or even to cure your narcissist – think again……
They know better! They’re above the help of any peon who thinks they understand their thoughts and feelings, and you’re just trying to destroy them, bring them down to your level (you are inferior, after all), so you can feel less inadequate (yes, you feel inadequate, and what’s more you’re so obtuse that you needed them to tell you just how inadequate you feel!)
Just who do you think you are trying to ‘help’ them?! You’re the one who needs help with your jealousy and inferiority complex. Your priorities are all out of whack. You think you know what you’re talking about, but you don’t. You might be right to suggest therapy – for yourself – it seems you need your head checked!

And so on. Turnabout is the name of the game. Irrational behaviour will be rationalised. Up is down, down is up. If you listen to the rantings of the Disturbed for long enough, you may even begin to doubt your own instincts and the legitimacy of your own feelings.

The Narcissist uses people only to prop up their own self image and so long as you comply with this function, you are admired and valued; but only as an instrument to assist them in achieving their goals. Begin to question them in any way, their half-baked self-inflated egotistical behaviours, their opinion of others (you’ve often heard them denigrate and malign those who are less valuable or special than they), and you are no longer serving their purposes.
You will become the object of their disdain. Your insubordination is utterly contemptible and you are no longer worthy their time or company; you no longer offer anything of value.

A Narcissist cannot countenance, certainly has no empathy for, and will not suffer to be in the company of persons they deem to be ‘useless’. Useless persons are to be maligned and libelled to any and all who will listen – those who listen best will be deemed as ‘valuable’ and find favour in the eyes of the Narcissist, who will speak cleverly and enchantingly to them. They will use all their skill and cunning – honed over the years – to gain trust. As is their nature, they’ll exercise the only ability to which they might have a legitimate claim of superiority – manipulating the truth, and crafting lies which will be believed as truths – to forge false friendships, that they may find their beloved reflection once again.

This cycle sows imbalance, disharmony and distrust in the lives of all who are close to them – most especially if they’ve not been recognised the person in their midst as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Peace Monument – Martin Wittfooth

The Narcissists’ Fantasy Reality – the Matrix of their own creation – is a creepy place, and there’s only room for one. Anyone else is competition and will be destroyed.

To understand them is to know that their reality is one of desolation, ruination, failure and despair. Anything possessing lightness and joy will be trapped, twisted and digested like a fly in a pitcher plant or a frog in a boiling pot. At first it seems like a nice place, but while you're busy getting comfortable it will suck the life from you.

So, if you live with, are friends with, or are the relation of a Narcissistic Personality, do yourself a favour. Call a spade a spade, move on with the knowledge that the hurt you’ve felt is all the guilt you need – abandon them, and get on with the business of cultivating your own mental health. There are plenty more clouds on the horizon and you’d be wise to take your silver lining and make an umbrella.

Narcissus tazetta

It’s your Garden. Cultivate it well, plant productive flowers, share your seeds with friends and neighbours who respect the boundaries, and don’t be afraid to pull out the weeds – left unchecked they can wreck the whole place.

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