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Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Part 2 July 31, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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Please read/reread “Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Part 1” before reading Part 2.  You’ll find it in Top Posts in the column at the right.  If you access it through Tags or Categories under Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you have to scroll down past Part 2 to reach Part 1.  Note: In Part 2, I’ll refer to a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) simply as a narcissist.

I was mulling over how to begin Part 2 when I happened upon a card in a shop. On the front it said, “Wonder if you looked deep inside yourself and found out no one was home?” The inside of the card was blank. What a perfect analogy for a narcissist!

Remember, that to avoid further hurt and abandonment, the child’s True Self retreated into a virtual human “panic room” to hide. There the immature child remains protected, but mortally wounded. His ability to emotionally bond with another human has been “disabled.”  The carefully crafted social mask, known as the False Self, is now firmly in place.

The False Self embodies everything the child is not, so the narcissist often projects an image of being all knowing and all powerful. I’m in charge here! I’m an authority! The narcissist is able to fly under most people’s radar because he can actually be quite charming when it suits him, or if he needs something from someone. You might even be tempted to think he is “normal.” Think again. Although the narcissist has matured physically and intellectually, emotionally he is a kindergartener who won’t share and doesn’t play well with others.

There’s a reason I chose the title Close Encounter with a Narcissist, and it’s not because I’m a big Stephen Spielberg fan. Only those people who dare to get too “close” to a narcissist see him drop his social mask. Since most of the narcissist’s abuse takes place behind closed doors, there are no witnesses.

For four months, I was Joe’s confidante and “go to” person. After my encounter with Joe, I talked to several people who knew him. These were people whom Joe regarded as part of his “inner circle,” yet when I asked them about Joe, they confessed they actually knew very little about him. Oh, there were those odd and inappropriate comments he’d make from time to time. “But, that’s just the way Joe is,” they shrugged, adding, “Besides, who’d want to get to know him better. He’s so weird!” Sheepishly, I raised my hand.

Humans – What are they good for?

Now I want to share the ugliest secret of the narcissist, the thing I found impossible to imagine, let alone to believe.

If the narcissist doesn’t think of other humans as caring others, then how does he view them? The answer is as things, i.e., mirrors. The mirror has one purpose. It’s to reflect back to the narcissist the image his False Self projects to the world. Period.

When I first read about this, the idea that a human = a thing just didn’t make sense. I’d spent hours listening to Joe recount stories of traumatic events from his childhood. Never mind that if I brought up my family or my life, Joe could barely stifle a yawn. I imagined myself as Joe’s safe haven. And I have to admit, I enjoyed this role. Maybe it’s a maternal thing. I have two sons and also have a younger brother. I imagined Joe thought, “I can be myself with her.” So I wasn’t a THING! Things are to be used. But that’s just what Joe did. He used me.

Let’s face it. One mirror is as good as the next and I was just one of Joe’s many mirrors. Every time I listened attentively and nodded my head or smiled, this was confirmation to Joe that the grandiose image his False Self projected to the world was, in fact, real. He liked the reflection of himself that he saw in my mirror. He found it flattering.

Joe’s co-workers and neighbors were also mirrors. The narcissist thinks of all these lesser people as human “wallpaper” like you’d have on your computer or cell phone. Something pleasant to look at in the background. Period.

My attention – anyone’s attention, whether it be positive or negative, verified to Joe that he existed. This is what’s known as Narcissistic Supply (NS). Drugs are to an addict as NS is to a narcissist.

Narcissists as Emotional Vampires

Narcissists are frequently compared to vampires and it’s not just because of that mirror thing. Narcissists are eternally seeking the life force of another, that perfect someone who will fill their inner void. They’re drawn to people who are vital and possess the very qualities they’re sadly lacking – empathy and a love of life.

I realized there were many things about me and my life that Joe envied. My energy. My social ease. My creativity. It was as though Joe hoped to expropriate these qualities by associating with me.

What the narcissist doesn’t understand is that what’s missing from his life is not someone, but something. It’s that something he never received in childhood, and it’s not something that can be “found.” Although their False Self projects confidence and knowledge, the inner life of the narcissist is emotionally barren. Their True Self is locked away. No one is at home.

D&D or Humans as Disposable Plastic Forks

Since most narcissists are men, that perfect someone is most likely a woman. But when it comes to relationships, narcissists are like robots with one foot nailed to the floor, destined to go round and round in a circle. This cycle has three phases: Idealization, Devalue, and Discard (D&D). This is the script and it never varies. Because of the narcissist’s magical thinking, he actually believes it’s possible do the same thing over and over again and each time the result will be different.

During the initial Idealization phase, the woman is put on a pedestal by the narcissist, who is almost giddy with excitement. He is like a small child anticipating a present. The narcissist is on his best behavior – charming, energetic, and seemingly caring.

Joe was a chronic flirt and always kept his phone on speakerphone. So I got to hear his convoluted conversations with women he was pursuing. It was painful listening to a woman explain to Joe that she wasn’t interested in him romantically as he looked over and gave me a knowing wink. “So what time should I pick you up?” he’d ask. Narcissists don’t like it when people say “No” to them. Joe even admitted he’d been told he had “boundary issues.”

Another woman told Joe he lacked basic conversational skills, so he went out and purchased a package of instructional tapes to boost his vocabulary. I tried to explain to Joe that his vocabulary wasn’t the issue, but he really didn’t get it. “Did you notice how I already inserted the word ‘cache’ into the conversation,” he said proudly. He continued to badger this woman until she finally stood him up.

You see, what a narcissist loves most is the chase. Once a woman actually shows any real interest in him, well, this is the beginning of the end. Huh?

As a Cross is to a Vampire: Emotional Intimacy is to a Narcissist

Whether you’re someone’s friend or their lover, there’s an expectation that as you get to know each other, you’ll grow closer. Ideally, familiarity breeds content. Not so with a narcissist. Remember, the narcissist is not capable of establishing a genuine emotional bond with another human. So for a narcissist, familiarity breeds contempt. A narcissist dreads emotional intimacy because it requires him to actually care and the best he can do is feign caring. When you are someone’s friend or lover, they naturally have expectations. Narcissists hate expectations and feel suffocated by them.

I have a close friend who was involved with a narcissist. A therapist told her that anyone involved with a narcissist should know that person is always looking over their shoulder. No, not backwards, but over YOUR shoulder, because a narcissist is always on the lookout for the next best thing. Like small children, they’re easily bored.

So when the idealized woman begins to exhibit “human” traits, e.g., caring, emotions, or expectations of emotional intimacy, the narcissist is repulsed and prepares to move on.

Remember, the narcissist’s mother emotionally abandoned him, so he is determined to never be abandoned again. This time he’ll abandon HER first. (Again, any woman can play the role of Mom) In fact, he’ll even engage in crazy-making behavior to hasten this cycle. If you apply “human” logic to sort this out, you’re doomed to get one very large headache. It’s just their nature. It’s how they’re hardwired.

When a Mirror Malfunctions

If you’re a narcissist, you want your mirrors to reflect a flattering image of you. Personally, I like mirrors that take 10 pounds off, and avoid one mirror in particular that highlights the scowl line on my forehead. So it is with the narcissist. When the image his mirror reflects back to him is less than flattering, it’s time to trade up. You’ve heard the expression, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” But what if the messenger (that annoying mirror) is delivering a message you don’t want to hear? If you’re a narcissist, this is a no brainer. Reach for the ammo.

Shooting the messenger aka Devaluation takes many forms: A snide or dismissive remark here, a sarcastic jab there, an odd, critical comment, or an inappropriate sexual innuendo. Each designed to chip away at the other’s self-esteem and allow the narcissist to gain the upper hand. The victim is left reeling and wondering, “Why would he say something so cruel?”

When Joe would say something mean out of the blue, it totally took me off guard. By the time I recovered from the sheer shock of this hit, he’d already moved on. It left me doubting my own sanity. I thought we were friends. So what was THAT about?

Time and time again, Joe sought me out just to talk or to solicit my advice. I’m a natural nurturer so when someone asks for my help, I spring to action. When Joe had questions about a shaky real estate venture, I hooked him up with a friend who knew that market. When he was considering taking another job, I arranged for Joe to meet with someone who’d actually overseen that job, so he could get the inside track.

What I didn’t realize was that a narcissist is most likely to devalue someone he owes gratitude to because asking for help damages his image. So the narcissist repays help (even though he asked for it) as though it were an insult. He must devalue the giver or it, as if such a contemptible person is incapable of really helping someone as grand as he. And that’s exactly what Joe did.

Let me give you an example from my own D&D experience.  This occurred behind closed doors so there are no witnesses, but I was there and this conversation is seared in my memory.

I’d been working in my garden pruning roses and hadn’t bothered to wear gloves. As a result, my forearms were crisscrossed with scratches.

Joe sauntered in.  “It looks like you tried to slit your wrists!” he said.

“As you can see, I’m directionally challenged!” was my reply. (I’m a hopeless smartass)

“Well, next time you want do it let me know and I’ll help you,”  Joe said, matter-of-factly.

Then smiling, he continued, “Better yet, I’ll do it for you to make sure you get the job done!”

Now, I’d had a very difficult day, so I actually winced when Joe said that. It didn’t strike me as funny. It hurt my feelings. I felt my face turn red and my eyes welled up with tears.

“What’s the matter?  Joe asked. “Are we thin-skinned?” He had a smirk on his face.

I dried my eyes and told Joe he reminded me of a child who professes to love animals then pokes the old bear in the cage at the zoo with a stick. Joe began laughing hysterically. I’d never seen him laugh so loud and so long.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

Joe was so doubled over with laughter he could barely get the words out. “It’s not an old bear,” he said. “It’s an old toothless lion with no fur left on its tail!” This sent him into another hysterical fit of laughter.

Now, I’m older than Joe and have a mane of red hair, so I instinctively knew “who” the lion was. Watching his glee at my expense was a revelation. Joe had dropped his mask and what was behind the mask? A cruel, selfish child, reduced to taunting another human.

Joe was my friend, but friends don’t hurt each other, at least not on purpose. The hardest part was realizing that I never really “knew” Joe at all. “Wonder if you looked deep inside yourself and found out no one was home?” What a sad life, indeed. But don’t feel sorry for the narcissist. Feel sorry for his victims because the narcissist doesn’t give them a second thought. He’s already moved on to the next best thing.

I know I didn’t tell you there was going to be a quiz, but I’m a teacher. It’s MY nature. Besides, I know you got a perfect score on the quiz at the end of Part 1. To pass, all you have to do is complete the following analogy:

As a cross is to a vampire; ________ __________ is to a narcissist.

Sorry, but I don’t have the technical capabilities to put the answer upside down at the bottom. So, if you’re stumped, you can scroll back and reread. Only you know that you’re cheating. To be honest, I don’t care. What’s important to me is that, in the end, you get it.

Part 3 (The final installment): Three BIG Red Flags of NPD; Grandiosity and Lack of Empathy; Cerebral vs. Somatic Narcissists; The Myth of Healing the Narcissist; Life After the Narcissist; and Acknowledgments.

Photo credit:  Unicorn Mask by Matty on flickr.

Click on this link to read Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Part 3.

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Comments»

1. Elisse Stuart - July 31, 2008

Wow –
It never ceases to amaze me how a narcississt’s “MO” is so like another’s. There must be a college called “NPDU.”
BRAVO girlfriend – You ROCK.

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2. Catherine Sherman - July 31, 2008

This was a fantastic article and a great public service. People need to know about NPDs and the damage they cause…..Forewarned is forearmed, which Sancho Panzo says in Don Quixote. (I cheated and looked up this quote). Trying to connect with NPDs is like tilting at windmills — you can’t succeed.

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Sandra - October 29, 2009

You are so right Cathy! Having survived almost thirty years with a NPD, and only recently figuring out what it was my son and I were dealing with, I’m preparing for my freedom. We were left with deep emotional wounds and physical illness, yet learned great things from this man on surviving.
He is a sad, lonely, angry person, who has now attached himself to a younger brother who makes a good income. He seems to be searching for the person to take care of him in his older years, now that he decided I don’t meet his needs. I have tried to warn his brother, but he will not listen.
The day we finally are free is very close and our hearts are feeling the lifting of the burdens he placed on them.
Thank you for sharing this information. It is imperative to tell the world of these damaged people. Or should I say robots?

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Pam - December 4, 2009

After reading the article and the comments I feel as though I have a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit. Your freedom can not come fast enough Sandra. I hope that love and happiness fills your days as well as your sons.
My daughter is still with her narcissistic nightmare of a husband. She tells me that she is trying to make the marriage work and staying for the sake of her son! I along with the rest of our family have tried to tell her that sparing her son emotional pain down the road, is a major reason to leave,…not stay!
I feel like I’m at my wits end…but stories like yours and the others, give me hope that she will leave…someday too!

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3. Betty - July 31, 2008

Hello Jan,

I came upon your ‘Close Encounter Part 1′ while doing a web search on NPD. I have been looking forward to this second part.

Great writing on the subject.

My step dtr ‘Suzie’ is in her later 20’s and has a mother who is
an NPD. I’ve read where most are male, but can you
imagine what life with an NPD mother is like !
‘Suzie’ is an only child too.
The mother has tried to run ‘Suzie’ her whole life.
What clothes to wear, friends to have, the body weight she should be…. and on and on.

‘Suzie’ is aware of the NPD. She is also in therapy. The therapy is helping her realize that she CAN set boundaries with her mother.

I also gave her a copy of this book……
Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward.

Total detachment from her mother would be the very best thing,
but ‘Suzie’ is not quite ready to take that step.

For those who don’t really understand a person with NPD,
I might sound like the wicked step mom, but to see the emotional
carnage left on ‘Suzie’s spirit and soul by this woman is just
heart wrenching.

THANK YOU — THANK YOU Jan for bringing this subject to light.

‘Betty’

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4. ES - August 14, 2008

Jan-
I just remembered. It must be a PTSD flashback. N told me I was ‘thin-skinned’ after he had verbally “stabbed” me. He gleefully said, “What’s the matter, are you thin skinned?” It was one of the few times I saw him smile. It was on his birthday, it must have been a great gift for him.
Honestly, they must have taken the same on-line courses. NPDU.

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5. Susan - August 17, 2008

Thank you so much Jan —
I am planning on copying your writings to share with my family and friends. Even though they experienced my ex-N’s abuse through my “re-telling,” it is still so hard for them to understand. To be honest, it’s still difficult for ME to understand. I was married for 30 years to this monster and had two children with him (one a son who is developmentally disabled). During the entire relationship, I was CONVINCED that I could make him feel something emotionally. Thank God we have been divorced for 1 year now, but I have been and will continue to be in therapy trying to heal my wounds and accept the reality of my PTSD. I also thank God that our 26-year-old daughter has started therapy. It is a long, arduous road, but at least it’s a much healthier one. I applaud your ability to describe your experiences so well and thank you for sharing them with all of us.

Susan –
Thanks so much and I’m glad you feel the information and experiences I’ve provided could help family and friends understand this disorder. That’s exactly the reason I first decided to write this series. I got tired of pulling Sam’s book out of my purse (I have a very BIG purse) and trying to explain it to friends, whose eyes glassed over. Can you blame them? I had to read Sam’s book six times before I GOT it, and it took me an additional year to let it all sink in until I REALLY GOT it. Since realizing I got close to someone who has this disorder, I’ve learned not only that a family member’s ex-husband has NPD, but that a friend back in New York City has been married to one for 23 years. We actually knew him, but as you know, they save their bad behavior for those closest, so it’s hard for others to see that side of them. My friend’s son is finally going off to college in September and that’s when the divorce proceedings start. But, I know that all those years have taken such a toll of my friend’s self-esteem. She also worries what effect this has had on her son.

It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Isn’t it nice to have someone say that to you? You’d never hear it from a narcissist. And, I can SO relate to your being CONVINCED that you could make him feel something emotionally. It’s only human to want to help someone connect. Congratulations on moving forward. It’s a road many have travelled and I feel once we’ve travelled that road, it’s our obligation to help others, as it can be a difficult journey. Bon voyage! Jan

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6. Laura - August 19, 2008

Jan,
I was married to a NPD for 25 years before he left and it was only then that I realized what a mire I had lived in for so long. My self esteem, once so strong, (I am an architect and one of the few women in my class, traveled through Europe at 18, etc. etc.) is still recovering from that behind closed doors, ever so subtle pin pricks and devaluation that occurred throughout our marriage. We had some good times but I realize now that they were only there when I was meeting his needs and only at 49 did I finally realize that my needs were never going to be met by him. In hindsight, I realize that I stopped mirroring what he wanted to see and stopped telling him what he wanted to hear so he discarded me. It was in that time that he found someone who told him what he wanted to hear and gave him the attention he needed. It was unbelievable to me how someone could leave after 25 years of marriage and two sons without so much as a look back but I realize now that he had nothing invested. It was ALWAYS about his needs being met and having a good image mirrored back to him, there was never a relationship beyond that so it is easy for him to end something that never existed.
He is married now to the gal that “rescued” him and meets his needs for now. I wonder how long she’ll last before she realizes it will NEVER be reciprocated. In all our years of marriage, he never said “we” or “us”. I don’t know why it took so long for me to see that he had no desire to meet my needs.
It still is difficult for me to not feel responsible and guilty. I am working hard to break the patterns and regain my self esteem. As for my 2 boys, the youngest doesn’t speak to him and hasn’t for nearly 3 years, (soon after he left). He sees right through his dad’s techniques and manipulations, so much better than I. My other son has a relationship with him and I struggle with some of the ways he treats me. It is similar to the pattern we had as a family and I don’t want to live like that anymore but I know that is his only model.
The good news is after 3 years I am back on my feet, stronger and more aware than I ever thought possible. I know now that I could never have blossomed in that relationship and I am actually grateful he is no longer in my life. I struggle with the breakup of my family and the suffering my children still endure but I am aware of the bad habits and modeling that were in their lives. I work now to show them a healthier way to live. I could never have come out of the muck that pervades that type of life without so much support from friends and family, many types of therapy, tons of reading, websites like this one and a desire to be in a better place.
Thank you Jan, for giving this the attention it deserves. I speak to a lot of people who have this crazymaking in their lives and how confusing it is. It is hard to explain the dynamics to others, especially when the interaction and devaluing is so subtle. It is truly a diabolical relationship that sucks the life out of anyone who becomes intertwined.

Laura –
Thanks so much for sharing your story, though I know it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is SO difficult to explain this disorder to others, as it defies all “human” logic. It’s hard for most people to believe that they have that “other” side to them.

If you’re still feeling responsible or guilty from time to time, I highly recommend Marie Hirigoyen’s book “Stalking the Soul.” You will find a weight lifted.

The new “rescuer” will get to experience the thrill of, “There’s no we cause it’s all about me!” It always comes full circle. You now have a “past,” but the good news is you also have a future! Jan

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7. Laura - August 20, 2008

Jan,
I am grateful for your validation. It is such a confusing, illogical way to live that you really have to relearn what is right again. Kind of like moving out of one country and learning to live in a new country. Observing, relishing, and being grateful for the customs of kindness, order and reciprocation of this new place. I will definitely pick up Marie’s book. I have all read so much on the subject but it is always good to hear things explained in new ways. It helps me make sense of the crazymaking ways and reaffirms that his behavior wasn’t my fault. I do have a future that is much brighter and with a freedom that I could never have with an NPD. I am grateful everyday to not walk on eggshells, to not have conflict in my household and to be in joy, love and peace.

What a wonderful teacher you must be. Thank you!!
Laura

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8. Wendy - August 26, 2008

Hi Jan,

Great writing and wonderful explainations of this crazymaking disorder. I was wondering, does having children bring out the NPD in a person? I noticed that my husband totally changed when we had our son, it was almost like I didn’t exist anymore. Is a small child perhaps a better mirror because they are so accepting?

I don’t want to blame my child for the ruin that my marriage has become because, obviously, it wasn’t his fault. But I still wonder if having a child triggered my husband’s full frontal, NPD attack on me.

Thanks again for this great writing. Wish I was a book editor, I would publish these essays as a book!

Wendy

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9. John Michael Parham - September 1, 2008

As for for the card in the shop – I send this short poem.

Is There Anybody There?

“Just be yourself!”
But what
if after all
you find
there’s no one there?

Then you must find
some comfort there
for if really
no one is there
you’ll never find out!

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10. theotherbed2 - September 2, 2008

(Sorry, popping up again…)
What I wrote a couple of days ago about the N in my life: “There is no there there.” Finally, I’m getting it, but it’s not the same as being able to accept it–that a human being actually is like that.

12 years ago, in re dehumanizing the N, a psychiatrist said to me about my husband’s affairs, “this is like moving furniture around for him.”

Not a woman, really, but an ottoman.
I’m having a hard time forgiving myself.

theotherbed2-
Being able to intellectually understand this disorder is one thing, but emotionally coming to terms with it is a bird of another color. In Hirigoyen’s book, she speaks eloquently of how the victims should not blame themselves because nothing about being human prepares us to do battle with these emotional black holes. Jan

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11. Dawn - September 14, 2008

Alwaysjan,

Your article is so informative and well written.
I have been in a relationship with a narcissist for the past 2 years and am currently trying my hardest to break away from him. Like so many other people on here it was only after the relationship got well underway, that the emotional draining, hurtful comments and complete lack of empathy started.
I suppose I am in some ways a narcissists dream being very empathetic towards others, very bright and full of life with a good job (like you I am a teacher/lecturer) and most good teachers have a part of them that wants to help others.
Unfortunatly for me the mirror I project onto him must be one of the best hes has ever come across because he is refusing to accept we are finished, I just hope and pray that he will find another person soon, for anyone that knows a narcissist will also the know the charm they can display, which is extra effective on the victim who for the past few years has had their self esteem and confidence worn away.
Again a really helpful article for people trying to understand this disorder.

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12. Close Encounter with a Narcissist - Part 1 « planetjan - September 30, 2008

[…] Click on the this link to read “Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Part 2″  […]

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13. Barbara - October 12, 2008

My Ex N and I were at the hospital when my niece was dying. My sister, my niece’s mother, over heard my Ex saying, “How much longer is this going to take?” Can you imagine that? My sister has since told me that she wanted to reply to my Ex saying, “I’m sorry that my daughter’s dying is inconveniencing you.”

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14. Luke - October 18, 2008

I find it interesting that you refuse to sympathize with narcissists because they’re simply “beyond help.” After your Joe dropped his emotional bomb on you, he suddenly became the embodiment of human coldness and evil in your eyes. Does this not strike you as similar to the black and white thinking that locked Joe into narcissistic mindset that you malign him for? Joe is still a human being. He has (barring the male-female differences) the same components in his brain as you. Yet he, like the physically abused child who internalizes the violence of his parents, deserves no sympathy for what he has become? Just because your sympathy cannot be used to cure Joe doesn’t mean that Joe deserves no sympathy.

What Joe did to you was unload a portion of his own toxic emotions into your psyche. It’s the same thing my borderline mother did to me and likely the same thing my narcissistic grandfather did to her. As a mature adult, the damage from Joe became a localized blight in your otherwise healthy mental landscape. You were able to contain the damage and come out mostly unscathed. My mental contamination could not be cleaned up by my toddler mind and it led to the decay and decline of my emotional self. It’s sad and somewhat disgusting to realize that the sins of the father (rather mother) trickle down like this, but I’m quite sure that any of the victims commenting here would be narcissists (bipolar) themselves if their narcissistic run-ins had occurred during childhood.

As one of the monsters you collectively despise, let me tell you that narcissists DO feel sadness, affection, and guilt for other human beings. It’s just that we only feel true emotion for people who have somehow penetrated our masks. Usually these are the people who endeared themselves to us before we fully adopted our false selves. As an example, I’ll admit that I love my father. Yes, half my disordered personality labels this love as weak and fights this sentiment vehemently… but the love’s still there. It’s the very same love that you feel for dozens of people. From all this I’ll concede that the vampire analogy is a correct simplification of what we are. We have hearts, but no souls to contain them.

And I guess this is just the narcissistic posturing that makes people like me so fake and reptilian… but I’ll end by saying that your article was spot-on. It’s apparent you’ve plumbed all the psychological literature and know pretty much all that can be objectively known about us without actually experiencing our inner void.

Luke –
Thank you for sharing your experience. I do feel sorry for Joe and told him I brought up NPD because I was worried about him. Despite all his bravado, he was a deeply insecure and lonely person. I could see under “the mask,” and I often felt that I understood Joe better than he understood himself. But he wasn’t willing to “go there.” As a teacher, I’m always looking to unlock a child’s inner potential. So it’s heartbreaking to imagine a child has had that potential “stolen” at such an early age, through no fault of their own.

Your comments started off almost indignant, yet ultimately you said what I wrote was totally correct or spot on. Most narcissists are in denial, so you’re unusual in your awareness of this disorder.

Perhaps, it’s true that people who have been damaged by NPDs see the N as a monster (though I did not say this). This is just as much a coping mechanism as what the N has done, but we do have every right to protect ourselves.

We also don’t vilify the Ns publicly, unless the public can identify the N in our blogs. I went to great lengths to protect Joe’s identify. So we aren’t doing them harm as much as protecting others. The truth is that there are some people we just don’t need in our lives.

An encounter with a narcissist is emotional hit and run. The victim is left hurting by the side of the road as the narcissist speeds blithely away, with never so much as a backwards glance. You realize that you recognize who was behind the wheel – It was someone you thought you KNEW. It’s a sorry scenario for all concerned. Jan

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15. ACE - December 22, 2008

i have learned to always always always listen to my gut.
on our first two dates over a year ago my now exNPDr told me something unsettling about himself.
Out of nowhere he said he ‘could be mean sometimes’
This came out of nowhere….
On our 2nd date he looked at me with a gleam in his eye and said he was ‘thinking about being mean to people’
again, he shrugged and the isolated self disclosure retreated into the background and our dates continued
since then he has proven that he meant what he said.
and that the cold icy feeling i got in my gut should have been heeded.
finally as a 3rd and freeing event he disclosed to me that if he weren’t religious he would “act like more of a sociopath’
Chilling man.

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16. Dan - January 16, 2009

I am glad others have written in about thier experiences. I was married for 12 years to a woman I loved and whom I found out too late is a severe case narcissist. It was always about her and getting her needs met. Your writing about not being able to get their emotional needs met when younger fits her to a “T”. Not very much reciprocation from her to meet my needs. She said she didn’t take the marriage vows seriously in 2005.
Her narcissitic ways were exactly what you described. If I did not agree to what she wanted or how she felt, I was the vampire to her. I was like her “evil” or “negative other” if you know what I mean. My ex also said she felt suffocated and trapped in our marriage. I knew there was nothing I was doing to cause her to feel that way, since I was the one meeting her needs or at least trying too. I realize I had my own problems in the marriage and I am working and will always be working on them. I will take my 20% of the problems in the marriage but she is defintely 80% of the problem in that marriage.
I went to therapy and she went a couple of times. She also said she did not have any problems in her life. Gee, isn’t it a wonder how your story goes right along with mine. The therapist saw right through her after that one hour session with her and I. The following session was with him and myself. He told me what he saw and said he felt she had been sexually abused, which he was correct. She was also the mother figure to her siblings since the parents really weren’t there for her.
We should feel sorry for the victims of the unhealthy narcissist. I do believe we should also feel sorry for the narcissist’s behavior. The healthy narcissist does not act this way.
I also found that narcissistic behavior harbors other bad traits in the lifestyle of the narcissist. Domination and bondage and seeking others out for this is one of her traits. Talking to other men on the phone in front of me about her sexual desires and what she likes and dislikes were another one of her ways of hurting me. She acted like nothing even happened and did not feel remorse for the pain she caused. Maybe she didn’t realize she caused me pain. Anyway you want to look at it, she knew what she was doing.
Empathy or compassion. Those words did not fit into her vocabulary. She would only help other people for her own gain not because it was out of the goodness of her heart. I have always lived by the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
My biggest eye opener to her problems was when I researched out unhealthy narcissism. Wow. what I read was amazing. If I only saw the unhealthy narcissism when we were dating.
The therapist told me that the early part of marriage is still new and interesting to the narcissist, but after 2-3 years they get bored and will use the other person slowly until they do not want them in their lives anymore. I sure found that to be true. Talk about being used for what they want. It is a hard experience to get over.
I do have to say that I am sorry for the fact that my ex wife did not receive that love and affection and closeness growing up. I really do feel sorry for her and I hope someday she can look into herself and see how she treats others.
One comment my ex mentioned in therapy was a comment from a friend she had over at her house when she was a child.. Her friend told my ex that she was having a hard time being there with her. That story is something my ex wife has not forgotten. That tells me that my wife was really into herself and could not allow others to really be around her. At least that is my take on it.

I hope this helps others see into their lives or their marriage. Thank you everyone for sharing.

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17. Tricia - February 1, 2009

I’ve been recuperating from my own close encounter, and reading Luke’s comments hit a sore spot for me. I could see beyond the mask to the sad, hurt little boy and gave that boy my love. When he knew he was loved, the trouble really started because he could be really mean and like a good supply source, I’d stick around. As it happened, in learning to stand up to him, I recovered my own voice which had been damaged and lost due to early childhood trauma.

I’ve blogged about confusing the connection between a narcissist and his supply source with a real emotional connection over in my own space. What’s relevant to this conversation is that despite all his arrogance, condescension and occasional contempt, occasionally he was so tender and affectionate that I believed we had a unique and lasting bond. And we did – The Narcissist and His Supply Source. But what I thought was intimacy was a simulation designed to elicit a response that reflected his own glory.

He and I might still be going around and around discussing his character in detail if I hadn’t realized that my own need to have an impact on the beast was driving me. So yeah – a really great supply source will have compassion and love for the narcissist, and it hurts like bloody hell.

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18. Riku - February 1, 2009

The Blog Narcissists Suck should be helpful to many of you. It’s all about Malignant Narcissism and how to protect yourself from them. It’ll help that you’re doing the right thing in keeping them out of your life.

If you’re going to have compassion for Malignant N’s, then do it from afar and away from them. Save the real compassion for the victims.

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19. S - February 2, 2009

Good heavens. Jan, you have described my ex to a tee! The social life he maintained to get his NS was exhausting. No normal person could maintain that. But for him, it was an absolute necessity – he needed all those mirrors.

That INCREDIBLY cruel and otherwise inexplicable behavior towards me was commonplace for him. Of course no one else ever saw it or the self-satisfied smirk on his face after making those types of hurtful remarks.

The hacking away at anything I was good at – my strongest points – were where he felt he had to tear me down, most especially. He was downright CONTEMPTUOUS of me about them.

The entire idealization and then devalue and discard phases – all there.

The way I’ve seen it described – and the way it felt to me was that the Narcissist wants to take the good things about you as their own and simultaneously DUMP the bad things about themselves INTO you. So you in essence become their personal trashcan or their personal toilet.

They steal the most precious things from your house, and replace it all with THEIR personal trash.

Are they vampires, or THIEVES? Maybe both.

May I link to and include excerpts from this entry on my own blog?
Much of this is already said there in regards to my experiences with a narcissist, but it is not said as well as you’ve written it here.

S – Please feel free to include a link to my blog. (I like getting hit on!) I wrote the series to “spread the word,” so when I get comments, such as yours, telling me my writing resonated with them, it is deeply gratifying. Jan

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20. Close Encounter With A Narcissist - Part 3 « planetjan - February 13, 2009

[…] read/reread “Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Parts 1 & 2” before reading Part 3.  These are usually featured in Top Posts in the column at the right. […]

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21. mark - March 26, 2009

i found the article pretty informative. I actually came across this because I believe myself to have narcissistic personality disorder and I wanted to get to know more about why I do things. I don’t know whether this is normal to feel like this, and in the process of getting older, (i’m 24) I will lose many of these things I hate about myself, or something that I need to get help for. I don’t know whether low self-esteem has the same traits that NPD does…because when I feel overwhelmingly positive, I just want to help everyone in the world….that is where my narcissism is…I want to be the best I can be so that I can be the best to my family and the world. I have been influenced to think that life is all about this, so I don’t know if I’m really considered narcissistic or just someone who has low self-esteem. I took an NPD test and scored very low, but I still think I’m an extremely selfish person inside. I keep thinking I have to be perfect in the way I act to people and I can’t help but think that the reason I want to do that is so that I can become perfect in my journey in life. I think that I haven’t lived enough life yet though, since I have yet to have a girl I have loved in my life because I always think that girls attracted to me are the ones I don’t like, and I don’t have enough self-esteem or all these girls I am attracted to are on a different level. It seems like I suffer from not enough Nacissism but I have this belief that I’m an extremely selfish person. I don’t pay enough attention to others, and anytime a conversation goes to something besides me, my attention vanishes. I’m not sure where I’m getting at, but thanks for the article. I’m not sure whether saying thank you is me being genuine or not. I wonder if anybody else feels that way.

Mark – First of all, those with NPD rarely realize that THEY are the problem. I don’t doubt that you scored low on a narcissism test. There’s self-esteem (what some might call healthy narcissism) and malignant narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The two are not to be confused.

My two cents (and that’s not worth much these days!) is that you should talk to a professional about this matter. You are obviously aware that something is not right and it seems that you realize what you say and do often falls short of what you think you should say and do. When you said you “want to be perfect” and also “perfect in my journey in life” that was telling. Being 24 is way in MY rearview mirror, but I can tell you that to be human is to embrace NOT being perfect. Any quest for perfection will doom you to a life of disappointment and frustration. When you said “I have been influenced to think that life is all about this,” I couldn’t help but think you’re carrying some heavy baggage from childhood. Since many airlines now charge extra for baggage, I’m of the opinion that it’s best to lighten the load as we move through this journey called life. :) You are still young, so intervention now could help you get to the root of what’s troubling you. Peace. Jan

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22. Brian - May 12, 2009

I have been away from a woman who I feel is a narcissist for 3 months. She went from loving me to hating me overnight. Everytime I did something nice for her, she would put it down, and me as well. I am having an extremely hard time with this because I love her and wanted the dream she promised me after her divorce. We have been friends for 2 1/2 years intimate for a year, and then she just tore me apart when we became intimate. I spoke with her ex husband, and he tells me that she needs alot of attention which is why she cheated on him for over 8 years with various men. She told me she cheated on her exhusband but said that cheating that long is not that “bad”. I informed her I was concerned she felt that way and like you said, she pulled out the ammo and just started shooting. I asked her why she would have a baby with her husband after cheating for 6 years with her boss and she said she didnt think she could find another husband wanted a baby. Now I wonder who the child really belongs too. I need help thru this because this has blown up in my face with hatred by her, and now she wont even talk to me. I miss her and want to call so bad, but the last time I did she told me I was in her heart and she will date 100 guys if she has to to meet a guy like me. How is this behavior possible? She was so great for a year.

Brian – Unfortunately, I think you opened a beautifully wrapped package and found out what was inside. Anyone who dismisses years of cheating – well, you know where I’m going with this. I find her comment about looking for another man just like you especially cruel – since she could have you. But in her own twisted way, that’s what she’s doing – she’s “having you.” You deserve better. I’m hoping you’re the reader who clicked on “Shrink for Men” on my blogroll. I think you might find some very helpful information there. Anti-venom, if you will. Best of luck. Jan

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23. Brian - May 13, 2009

I just wish we didnt talk about her cheating. It just unraveled everything in my face. She told me she didnt like the way I fight and that she wants to run when I confront her. I never fought with her, or confronted her, I only tried defending my position when it came to her being rude and cruel to me without cause. Is this really happening or did I do something wrong? I just cant believe she would love me like that and then start hurting me for no reason. The stress of the economy has forced me to be conservative with spending habits and she told me she is tired of feeling guilty for ordering off a menu at dinner because she said I wasnt successful. I am just lost. I dont know what happened, and i have no closure. 2 years as friends and lovers, what happened?

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24. lilly - August 11, 2009

8 years and im out at last !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it feels so so good, and so so sad…………………………and I think I need counselling now for putting up with the pratt !!!! why was i soooooo soft i cant believe what i have gone through !!!!

Lily – Congratulations. All changes, even positive ones, bring both excitement (relief?) and sadness. I think the sadness is regret for what could/should have been, or for the time one wasted on a hopeless cause. Counseling with a professional who understands NPD might help. So many have told me they wished they hadn’t been so “nice” or “generous” with their hearts and spirits. They viewed these traits in retrospect as weaknesses. Normal humans appreciate and treasure people who are nice and generous. Unfortunately, people with NPD are master manipulators who take advantage of the kindness of others. There are days that I marvel at how “soft” I was when dealing with a verbal abuser. But what on earth could have prepared me to battle a black hole? Jan
“Every change carries wet tears to water the new growth!”

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25. JW - October 26, 2009

I think that a lot of narcissists are very subtle when they devalue people. I have talked about one former Ncoworker in The Mirror Talks entry. But I have had the misfortune of working with two Ncoworkers. The Ncoworker that I talked about in The Mirror Talks entry also had a way of devaluing people but she would always hide it under the guise of a joke. When I first met her and in later instances observed her behavior, I realized that she often joked around with people, but I also recognized that she could be meanspirited with her jokes. The problem with her is that she would say mean things with a smile on her face. Now, when someone says something mean in a subtle way, all the while with a smile plastered on his or her face, it can really throw people off, even if the recipient of the comment/joke feels a twinge of being uncomfortable about the comment that was made. This makes it harder to confront the person who made the comment/joke. At first I didn’t really get upset when she would make little comments. But I became irritated, one day, when I asked her to help me clear up my workstation. There were a lot of customers in the store, and I always seemed to have the responsibility of doing a lot of the customer transactions, which left very little time to organize my work station and to do other tasks. So, Ncoworker happened to be near by and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind helping me to clear up my workstation while I continued with the customer transactions. Well, the first sentence out of her mouth was a subtly devaluing observation. It was the kind of comment that might have passed as just a simple observation but the way she said it, made me feel like I had to defend myself and give her a satisfactory explanation of why I couldn’t clear up my own workstation. She knew how busy the store always was and she knew how much pressure the managers sometimes put upon employees, but it was as if she had no empathy for me, whatsoever. She did help me out with my workstation, but she made sure she got that little comment in before doing so. And she was also the type to smirk, too, especially if she felt like she had gotten the upperhand. The other thing about her is that she lacked boundaries. As I described her in the other entry, she was nosy and a gossip and always had a comment for everything. She never met someone’s business that she didn’t jump into. But if someone was to make a snide or sarcastic remark to her, she wouldn’t like it. The one time that I said something mean to her, she said that she wouldn’t allow me to do that. So she could say whatever she wanted to say, but other people had to play by her rules. After that little incident, another coworker told me that Ncoworker had once told her that if she was her boss she would have fired her. So it was ok for Ncoworker to make mean little statements like that but other people had to tow the line. I remember telling her one time that she didn’t give me any credit. I got the feeling that she didn’t think that other people measured up.

JW- You’re right. Usually the devaluation is subtle. “Under the guise of a joke” is called sarcasm. A friend recently told me about the origin of the word sarcasm. It literally means the tearing of flesh. I thought that was revealing because Joe delivered his most caustic remarks under the guise of a joke. If I said, “That was mean,” his excuse was always that he was just kidding. Or even worse, “Can’t you take a joke?” The key is what they say leaves you feeling unsettled. Major red flag. Jan

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26. JW - October 26, 2009

The other Ncoworker that I had the misfortune of working with was a guy who probably wouldn’t seem like an N right away. It took me a while to figure him out because he really put on an act of being nice, caring, and seemingly altruistic. He would go out of his way to help me to perform my work responsibilities, even if I hadn’t asked him for help. But the thing that I noticed about him was that even though he would always go out of his way to help other people, if someone actually asked him for help, alot of the time he would rudely and abruptly dismiss the person. So he could be nice, alright, but it was always on his own time and when he felt like it.
Plus, he definitely had delusions of granduer and was very martyrish and a workaholic. He made it seem like he was the one whom everyone else depended on to get the work done and to do it correctly. He would make statements that he represented the company and the customers depended on him. His attitude really got on my nerves, once I figured out his mentality. It got to the point where I did not want to be around him and I did not want to ask him for any help, because I knew that the only reason why he acted so helpful and caring was in order to make himself look good.

JW – Again, this all sounds so familiar. Joe was always there to help someone, even a stranger, but if I asked for a small consideration (like showing up on time), it was out of the question. They help when it suits them. If YOU ask them for help, well, you can just take a number. It’s always on their terms. Jan

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27. JW - October 26, 2009

Hi Jan, in the case of the first Ncoworker, the one who would make the jokes, I truly believe that she thought she was being “cute” whenever she would make a comment or joke. She was highly extraverted, gregarious, and came off as a friendly, very socially adept sort of person. I have recently read that a lot of narcissists tend to be more on the extraverted side. At first I thought she was friendly, as most people probably would, but I soon realized that she was creepy and predatory, in a sense. One time, early on in our working relationship, I was starting my work shift and she was just finishing her shift, and I remember her saying to me, “Oh you must be glad that I am not working tonight, so that I won’t torment you”. Now, at the time that she said it, I didn’t take it seriously because I hadn’t quite figured out her personality yet. But as time went on, I realized that she truly was trying to psychologically torment coworkers whom she thought would put up with her imposing personality. It’s kind of scary in a way to know that someone has made it his or her mission to psychologically torment other people. And it sounds like maybe that’s what Joe was doing to you, as well, and because you were the nurturing sort, he knew that he could get away with tormenting you. From the reading that I have done on narcissism, I read something that stated that narcissists are often sadistic and enjoy tormenting other people, psychologically, and in other ways as well. From your description of how Joe laughed, that really hit home with me because my Ncoworker would do the same thing. It wasn’t just her smirk, she also had a creepy, annoying laugh. In my opinion, anyone who is constantly smirking and laughing like that, should be avoided like the plague. I didn’t mind it when other coworkers laughed or made a joke, but coming from Ncoworker, I thought it was creepy.

As to the sarcasm, I think that a lot of people are sarcastic and will make a light hearted sarcastic comment or witty comment now and again. But often times passive people who haven’t learned to be assertive, might use sarcasm to express hostility. But in that case, it usually doesn’t happen on a regular basis, and also these people can be taught to express anger more appropriately. I have been sarcastic a time or two, but definitely not all the time, and I definitely wasn’t doing it under the guise of a joke. I’ve never been very good at verbally expressing my feelings but since I have learned to be more assertive, I have become more conscious about not letting my feelings build up to the point where I would lose self control and have a sarcastic outburst. It’s about self awareness and while a normal person has the ability to self-reflect and change certain behaviors, a narcissist would just keep doing the same things.

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28. JW - October 26, 2009

In the case of the second Ncoworker, as I said in my other comment about him, he seemed very helpful, but somewhere along the way, maybe because I worked in close proximity to him, I started to notice his N traits. But explaining to other people, what I felt about this coworker, would have been hard to do and they most likely would have thought that I was the one who was weird. And because I am a private person, I kept a lot of observations to myself, anyway.

The comment you made about Joe not showing up on time also hit home with me, because this Ncoworker had severe time issues. I remember reading about narcissists and how they perceive time, on the Halcyon website. Ashmun really hit the nail on the head in her description of the narcissist’s time. Narcissists tend to guard time with an iron fist but they will pass judgment on how other people spend their time. This Ncoworker did exactly that, always passing judgment on how other coworkers spent their time but guarding his own precious time and getting very huffy if someone put a demand on his time, especially if someone was to interrupt him if he was concentrating on a task. That’s when he really became dismissive toward other people. But he wouldn’t hesitate to start up a conversation with me or bother me when I was trying to concentrate on what I was doing, because obviously my time wasn’t as important as his.

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29. PLO - January 28, 2010

Great article on NPD and very true. I spent 10 years with a narcissist before figuring out what was going on. It nearly cost me my life. It has been 6 years since I left that relationship and the wounds are still healing. If you are in a relationship with a Narcissist … run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. Get out and never look back. They cannot change because they don’t want to change. You will never get closure from them so don’t even try … you have to do it on your own. Good luck and God Bless.

PLO – Yes, you’ll never get any closure from a N. But, I have found that talking to friends (and total strangers via the internet) who’ve been in a relationship with a N, has helped me understand what (and more importantly how) this could have happened. (Those who didn’t have a “close encounter” will just think you’re obsessed.) Good luck as you continue to heal. Jan

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30. LettingGo - July 2, 2010

Wow, I just found out about your blog through webofnarcissism.com and it is amazing what you have written nearly two years ago applies to the N-counters I have experienced and have started writing about almost a year ago, how they are NVamps and in their minds we are broken mirrors that no longer offer NS.

I am curious to find out how you broke the evil N-chantment Spell from Joe., so I will read on. I just had to stop and say WOW!

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31. Tim Bradley - November 9, 2010

Great article about me.

Tim,
You know, it’s not always about you…oh wait a minute, it was. Are we in a reflective mood? You might not be the person I wrote about, but I have to admit that the “what they love most is the chase” reminds me of you. At the time, I chalked it up to you being a “hopeless romantic.” I remember thinking that the realities of a real relationship would bore you to death. Could it be that the shoe fits? Hmmm…
Food for thought. Jan

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32. Jean - December 3, 2010

Thank you! Your article was so good I read it twice, then read it to my husband (he is very understanding) so I could try to show him just what happened to me. He sort of got it. But not really. Because, had this not happened to me, I MYSELF would not believe me. It’s all just so weird. And I work with the N, and he is a psychologist sitting surrounded by other psychologists! In a way, a sad & tragic way, it’s really quite comical.

My situation was very similar to yours – I knew my narcissist as a friend (but I had other feelings for him) for 5 months at work. Then I told him I was attracted to him (again, fortunately my husband is VERY understanding – that’s another story). The N is strange and it’s hard to say why and since he’s only 5 feet tall and diabetic and a psychologist, he’s really good at seeming to be “normally” abnormal. Boy, is this guy good at playing a victim/child. Maybe it’s because he’s small. He’s a clever one – he really messed with my head. Then he used his supervisor to imply I was sexually harassing him (while saying nothing to me). I watch my back now. Hopefully the paranoia will pass.

Jean,
My husband was also extremely understanding for which I’m grateful. He once met Joe and was expecting him to be incredibly charismatic. He was shocked at how ordinary and homely he was. Joe messed with my head as well. He ran hot and cold. One minute he was flirtatious and the conversation was charged with sexual innuendo. The next minute it was as though he was looking right through me – like I was invisible. I’m a rock solid person, so this left me feeling constantly off balance. So many things Joe did were so weird they were comical. In retrospect, I was dealing with a first-rate nut case!

I have to admit that your situation sounds more similar to mine than I’d like to think. (Minus him being short, diabetic, and a psychologist!) Thanks for your comment. I just read it out loud to my husband, so he knows I’m not the only one to have been taken in by such a sad character. Jan

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33. Shell - February 22, 2012

Thank you Jan for this article and the other two that go with it. Yesterday the man that I thought I loved decided to end what we had after almost seven years to me via email. I am currently working on a letter to him on how to reply to it. I am not sure if he is Narcissitc, Bi polar, Schizoid or even Aspergers. He is a gifted and talented man and plays a musical instrument thinking yes that he is better than everyone else out there… I would really love to hear what you think by looking at my blog as up until awhile ago I felt very powerless and very much alone. My manchild left me feeling extremely vunerable and all of those emotions that you mentioned in part 2 yet when I asked him to do an Asperger quiz, he reckoned he was way off the mark. He has told me yesterday that he reckons he has found love again with an old flame and it kind of makes me worry whether she will go through similar things to what I did once the novety has worn off. I am by no means trained in this sort of thing either but I do recognise that this man has a lot of baggage leftover from his childhood and marriage. I will be subscribing to your blog after I have written this and I look forward to you visiting mine.

Best wishes from NZ! :-)

Shell,
Ah, you’re a Kiwi! I was just reading your blog and saw frequent references to “C”. I imagine this is the person you’re referring to. Is there a particular post that you think captures the essence of you relationship? At one point, I also thought that Joe quite possibly had Aspergers, BUT then I thought about students I knew who had this disorder. They were socially inept, BUT there wasn’t a mean bone in their bodies. I realized that Joe got a certain “high” from putdowns or just watching you to see if his indifference ruffled your feathers. I do find it interesting that you referred to this person as you “manchild.” I often saw Joe act behave in a very childlike fashion. Jan

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Shell - February 23, 2012

Hi again Jan, (before I head off to sleep, no no not to count sheep).
I have only been writing in that blog a short time so I have not really made any real specific entries about C (Craig) and I yet. I think that I will do that at some stage over the weekend…. I do wonder if he actually was mean spirited because of his relationship that he had with his ex wife… could tell you more of this off the cuff. He seemed to get a bit of a high from his put downs too and yet his daughter who is much like me and is a thoughtful human being didnt have all of this drama with him although she dod say he likes his space etc…

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34. Shell - February 22, 2012

oops I forgot my website!!!

http://helpmeamigoingcrazy.blogspot.co.nz/

Sorry about that!! :-)

Shell,
Maybe it’s because I live in SoCal, but the first thing I saw in your blog title was “amigo!” You’re a wonderful writer, so I enjoyed the posts I read. I just wondered if there was one in particular that addressed your relationship with “C.” It’s been a long day in the trenches with 8-9 year olds, so I’m looking to cut to the chase. :) BTW, my college roommate, Catherine Sherman (who’s on my blogroll) has several wonderful posts about her trip to New Zealand. Jan

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Shell - February 23, 2012

Hi Jan!!!
Great to hear from you, I would love to keep in touch with you as you made my day when you mentioned my writing, Feel free to become a follower too as I have done with your site, I loved yours because there were bits in here that made me think… “gosh this lady is taking the words out of my mouth”. If you ever come to New Zealand, I would like to meet up also. “C” is the man in question so yes you are right there. There is a potato chip advertisment here in NZ that shows three very small men in the back of a car all buckled in like children, two of them are nodding off while the other is eating his chips, one of the others notices this and the man with the chips seems rather frustrated and won’t share. The advert then says “Feed the man-child” and I thought that was rather an appropriate name for C. It is rather late here (I have been talking to a friend in Sweden up until now) but I would love to ”talk” some more sometime. Thank you for coming and visiting and I hope to hear more from you very soon. I will have to look at Catherine’s posts too:-)

Best wishes to you from Kiwiland :-)
Shell

Shell,
I know our time schedules are W A Y different. I’m off to meet parents before school, but over the next few days, I’ll read more. :) Jan

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Shell - February 23, 2012

It is sad our time zones are a bit of a pain, it is morning here in NZ but feel free to email me and I will endevour to do the same. I am currently studying at the moment towards a degree and diploma and work part time at a Primary school (elementary) here in NZ. I worked in Education myself before I started my studies. You made my day yesterday when you commented about my writing as it meant so much especially with what I have been going through and then this week when C dropped the bombshell. I will probably write more about that soon. Have a great day at school :-)

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35. Empathy Can Be Learned: Overcoming Narcissism, One Day at a Time | Hugo Schwyzer - March 24, 2012

[…] quite a bit about dealing with folks with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. (See her first, second, and third excellent pieces.) She wrote something that stirred me up a bit, for understandable […]

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36. Donna - June 27, 2012

Finding this site was a total God send for me. Both part 1 & 2 have explained every thing I went through with my Friend KW. Your story about Joe is exactly the same experience I went through with my old high school friend of 40+ years. Thank you Jan this explains so much!!!

Donna,
Thanks and feel free to keep reading.:) These were the first two blog posts I ever wrote about NPD. There’s more! Jan

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37. Donna - January 19, 2013

I am feeling very sick in my heart and in my head right now.

I signed up with a few online Dating Sites, just to see if there are any good fellows out there. I am a curious lady. I have not had any good luck so far, and I am OK.

However, yesterday I received a notice from POF of some matches, and low and behold one of my still living half-brothers showed up. trying to lure women into his world. I haven’t talked to him in 4 years. Even his introduction was “Iconoclast”.

Ok, I still know he is still alive.

Donna,
Oh dear. You win the prize for the most awkward match. That’s gotta be strange. Jan

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lesley - January 20, 2013

That would certainly leave you feeling a bit sick Donna…the internet dating scene, if you think about it would be a prime hunting place for Narcs.
They can spin whatever lines they like.
Although I’m sad for you that you haven’t see your brother for a while…its;possibly best if he’s an out and out Narcissist?

Light Shine,
Les

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38. Donna - January 19, 2013

PS. I need to add I never really talked about my brother being an N before now.

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39. Sal - February 13, 2013

I totally relate to Laura’s comments in 2008. 34 years married. I feel like a fool. The same experience as the writer, in that I worked so hard for “us”, and he worked so hard for “him”. I know now I did too good a job by making sure the “mirrors” around our life always reflected him and his image in the best possible light. I ask myself now how and why I persisted? What is so fundamentally wrong with me that I went along with this? As one of your readers said I know he loved my social skills, conversational abilities, etc. but only as they filled huge holes he doesn’t have. He is so alone now. His grown up sons don’t talk to him. My parents have disowned him in all ways, his own mother didn’t mention him in her obituary, and he hasn’t spoken to his one sister (only sibling), in thirty years despite her trying to get a relationship going. He has not a friend to his name.

Sal,
I went back and reread Laura’s comment – so articulate and insightful. How hard it must be to look back and realize how much time you spent trying to make “it” work only to realize that “it” was all about him. Know you are not alone. I’m amazed how many readers have been married for decades – including my sister-in-law – only to finally realize they aren’t miracle workers (though they’ve tried mightily). My friend worked at a bank when she was 20. One day a 70-year-old man come in and announced he needed a new bank account because he was leaving his wife after 50 years of marriage. He was walking away from their house – everything! She asked what was so terrible that he felt compelled to leave everything. He replied, “Every day I spend away from her, I feel like I’m getting a year back of my life.” Although she was very young, his words have stuck with her throughout the years.
Jan

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40. rnarp - March 29, 2013

I have so many things I’d like to say. ditto, yep, deja vu. If only I’d figured out what was behind the 20 years of abuse and weird behavior that he hid from everyone else. I was not prepared to divorce a narcissist. I did not know that to him and his family, who believe in and support his false self, that my attempting an amicable divorce was a declaration of war to them. I have had much support in recovering from narcissistic abuse, but I have children with him and I still have to have minimal contact. One thing I am trying to understand is how does a non-warfare person such as myself deal with a pack (he and his family are like the mafia) that wants to continue to wage war? It’s disturbing and I don’t know how I’ve managed so far. Some how I’m managing pretty damn good though. But had I known, I could have prepared much better. I wonder why he is the way he is? I can believe his mother emotionally abandoned him as a child, but I don’t think it’s an excuse.

I’ve found what I can do is understand these vampires as best I can. Learn the best way to handle their behavior and emotionally move on.

rnarp,
Don’t bother with trying to understand what made him the way he is as you’ve already wasted enough time trying to understand/accommodate him. Regarding “a Declaration of War.” That’s a tough one. What we’ve learned from wars around the world is that appeasement doesn’t really work and puts off the inevitable. Who’s on your side? Do you have family and friends and most importantly, do you have someone in the legal system to defend your/your children’s rights in regards to custody issues? I highly recommend Shrink4men – it’s on my blogroll and though it’s geared to men, there are lots of great posts on problems with divorcing these high conflict people. Jan

Jan

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Katt - March 19, 2014

Dear rnarp : I’d love to hear back on how your divorce went (is going) I’m going to need some support and advice. It sounds like you’re situation is a lot like my own. (Please contact me if you’re still around kattkayor@yahoo.com) I’ve also spent (wasted) 20 years with what I now firmly believe to be an N. The Hot/Cold behavior changes depending on who was around us (public vs. private) left me bewildered. Every 6 months or so (when I would start to trust in him again) he’d pull the rug out from under my feet in one form or another. NO empathy, any feelings or thoughts that I had that did not line up with his were WRONG, which he would lecture me about in a condescending, patronizing tone until I just gave up trying to just be heard. He put his hand in my face when I was parenting my children, taking away my voice and my authority as well as my ability to defend them when he was unreasonable when interacting with them. I endured gass-lighting, projection, and objectification. He is So Controlling! Everything ran by his schedule, what we did and when we did it (including sex) He claimed the bed hurt his back therefore he slept on the couch for the better part of the last 15 years refusing to buy a new mattress. Intimacy with a woman is so much more than sexual, its really based on non-sexual interactions, I never could get him to understand that. I spent endless hours staring at the back of his head while he played video games like a 15 year old boy. His blood relatives were always placed above me and our children. He has no friends, he only interacts with his birth family. We’ve just started divorce proceedings. His family claims he’s charming and loving, blah, blah, (makes me ill) He has not shown them the other side of his personality. Yes he can be charming, yes he can help others and enjoy doing it. He could also be cold and abrasive, even having angry outbursts over inanimate objects not “behaving” as he felt they should. Any attempt on my part to calm him would only make it worse and direct his rage upon me. What is that teaching our children? We’re so much better off emotionally with him gone. Its been a year now since he left (directly to another woman) and with counseling my son and I are just now getting to the point that he does not treat me in the manner that his father did. ANY ADVICE YOU CAN OFFER ON HOW TO NAVIGATE THE DIVORCE PROCESS WOULD BE HELPFUL. This is all new territory. He has his chest all puffed out now showing off to his new woman and his blood relatives that he’s “putting me in my place” since everything was my fault. (I simply stopped mirroring to him after being hurt and ignored so much for so long and that ended it in his mind. But that’s okay, the kids and I are healing so let me be the wrong one once more, I’m used to it now, I can take it. )

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41. rnarp - March 29, 2013

I wanted to add after reading some of the comments that the narcissist I was married to convinced me that if I would change “X” about myself then he would be much happier. He would stop threatening to kill himself.

Didn’t I know that it was my disagreeing with him (failing to mirror correctly?) that was causing his desire to blow his head off?

I spent 20 years convinced that if I could just do things the way he said (mirror correctly?) that I could finally make him happy, and that would allow me to be happy.

Yet there was never a suicide attempt, not once in 20 years, but I believed he would do it. I was terrified that he’d do the kids and then himself.

He would disappear for hours and I finally figured out he was lying behind the couch hiding. It was so strange, yet I kept believing I should do what he says, that that would fix it all.

One of the final straws to open my eyes was when he brought me a list of 10-15 things that the mormon church said was things that “happy” married couples did. He had me read the list and then told me that I was to start doing all of those things immediately.

Things started getting weirder and weirder. We would spend an entire afternoon and evening together, no kids, just us, and when we went to bed he would get emotional and say that he feels so far away from me and we never do anything together. I felt like I was going insane because he’s say that after we’d just spent 5+ hours together.

I have had much help, I only wish I could find a group of other people who have been through narcissistic abuse. It’s cathartic to be able to share stories occasionally.

I wonder now if he wanted to divorce me all along but because of his mormon upbringing couldn’t allow himself to be degraded like that? Or was the 20 years of crazy comments just his way of bait and switch?

The great part for him now is that he can find another woman/victim (happened right away) for additional NS. And he can be openly hostile with me, and his family and support groups approve of that, because “divorce is hard” and “She deserves to be destroyed now”. It’s so odd for me because I grew up with such a strong sense of conscience, integrity, and concern for others and how I treat them. I don’t understand wanting to destroy someone, or how a family of religious people continue to justify and participate in that behavior.

rnarp,
Read Comment #27 on “Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Part 3.” It’s from my Mormon sister-in-law and describes her harrowing marriage to a cerebral N (who was also a Mormon). Cerebral Ns just play mind games with you and withhold sex while somatic Ns are serial cheaters. In either case, neither is interested in a real emotional connection. Jan

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42. Lynn - October 15, 2014

Your blog is really, really great. I really wish people were taught about this disorder (and other toxic relationship dynamics) in their high school psychology class. I used to work with a narcissist. We both worked in a science lab, and he was always trying to find ways to tear down my esteem. The “thin-skinned” comment resonated so much. The problem was, he was so sneaky with them that I wouldn’t even realize how hurtful they were after the fact. Once I even asked him to “be nicer please” the day after one of these comments (he said if I were a good enough scientist/engineer, I would be able to figure something out myself–even though he knew full well he was the only person who had access to the passwords I needed to change some code). His reaction to my request was to sigh, roll his eyes and stomp off. This went on for a year while I worked with him. Another time, he told me I “never thought anything through” with regard to the work I did in the lab. That night, I stayed up working diligently until 2 in the morning trying to perfect the task he had set me to. I got it to him right away the next morning, saying I felt bad about the quality of my work so I had tried to fix it. He just shrugged and laughed. Another time after a party he actually physically assaulted me then denied it the next day, saying I was “crazy” and that “it was my fault and I just fell on my ass”. He also left me in a sketchy part of the city at 4 in the morning while we were walking home. Everyone at the party was under the impression that he would see me to my house. The list goes on and on. He was 30 at the time. I was 22. For several years after I was clinically depressed. Sometimes I still feel this way and I am in my third year away from this person. :-( He literally nails every single one of the red flags of narcissistic personality disorder, from the unsettling, jilted, inhuman reactions to the disjointed family history. I recall one time telling him that I was unable to make it to a test that I wanted to take to get what is called a ham radio licesnse. His response was “Wow, THAT sucks”. But it wasn’t said in an empathic tone of voice. It was so unsettling. It was more like “YOU suck”. He was awful.

Lynn,
It’s so hard when someone messes with your mind, especially when you have the disadvantage of not knowing this is but a game to them. You also had the disadvantage of being younger, and from how it sounds, in a more vulnerable position at work than this man. I can’t tell you how many people have come out of such an encounter and wondered if they could ever trust someone again. Who knew people like this walked amongst us? It has been 7 years now since I had my Close Encounter with a Narcissist. I’d say it was 2-3 years before I felt the weight was lifted.
I think everyone could use some education on relationship red flags, especially on what a lack of empathy looks like. That was what I found most disturbing and by googling that, I stumbled upon Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you still find yourself “stuck,” you might want to talk to a therapist who is well versed with personality disorders. These people always leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Always, Jan

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Lynn - October 17, 2014

Thanks for the response. It has been a rough couple of years and I feel like no one else understands this. No one in my family really gets it. They think I am crazy that I am so upset. I have been looking for a decent therapist. I had one, but she said she didn’t specialize in the things I was looking for. Also, not every therapist seems to be aware of the type of person I am talking about. Not every therapist seems to truly understand this kind of narcissism. They don’t understand how the subtle jabs at a person’s self-esteem can wear you down over time. They don’t always understand the classic narcissistic tactics. I am on my way towards finding another therapist, but in the meantime your blog helps. Thanks.

Lynn,
Yes, when I started trying to explain NPD to people, they looked at me like I was the one with the problem. My coworkers hadn’t gotten as “close” to this person as I had, so they were spared most of the mind games. I found that what was most hurtful was how I felt duped and stupid for allowing this to happen. I like to think I’m a good judge of character, so how was I so taken in? Glad the blog provides some solace. So many people have written comments that are so insightful. Jan

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43. Lynn - October 17, 2014

I have also found that the psychological pain he caused is more profound than anything he could have done to me physically. At least if he had caused physical damage to me, people would see me as being righteously upset…

Lynn,
Yes, it’s hard to explain how wounded you are when you have no bruises or scars to show. I teach my students that words CAN be way more hurtful than sticks and stones. Jan

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