Comments Welcome August 6, 2013Posted by alwaysjan in Blogging, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Uncategorized.
Tags: Blogging, Comment Policy, Comments, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, NPD
I just noticed that I have over 2,000 comments in response to 219 blog posts. It’s no secret that the majority of comments are in response to my writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum doesn’t generate the emotional response as having discovered the person you thought you were in love with isn’t capable of love.
So, in honor of all of those who’ve shared their stories of the turmoil wrought by a close encounter with a narcissist, I thought it was worth commenting about comments. Your comments.
I’m a teacher by trade, not a therapist. I provide a listening ear. I’m a survivor. And ultimately, I’m an optimist. Sound good? You’ve come to the right place.
It’s interesting because in the summer of 2012, we had quite a lively discussion going on between commenters. I was on vacation and was so impressed with how everyone was so thoughtful in their responses and kind to one another. I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t even needed! However, when someone said, “Wow! This is a great forum!” I winced. I don’t need nor want the responsibility of monitoring a forum.
That said, I have a lot of people who stop by regularly to let people know how they’re doing. Or to offer solace and a pat on the back to someone else who’s still reeling from their involvement with a narcissist. Some of these people go back to Year 1 of my blog. They’re like old familiar friends and I’m amazed at how wise they’ve become. I’ve watched them work through the “What ifs” and WTFs and move on with their lives. This brings me joy.
I always try to respond to NPD-related comments within 24 hours. I remember how horrible I felt when I realized who/what I was dealing with. I’d been “had” and who would believe me?
But, here’s the deal. I hit the Edit button and write my comment on the bottom of the actual comment in italics. I do this because I don’t want to see my face appearing in the sidebar over and over again. The downside of this is when people sign up to Follow Comments, they don’t receive a notification that I’ve replied. They won’t receive a notification until another person comments on that post.
FYI: I must approve everyone’s first comment. Once that’s done, future comments are posted automatically, but I receive a notification. Just in case. Only twice have I had to delete that first comment to block a flurry of rants that followed. I don’t like rants. Rants make my stomach churn. After a long day at school spent with 30 third graders, I don’t have much patience for adults who behave like bratty children.
When someone comments, I can see their email address. Maybe half a dozen times when someone was in severe distress, I emailed them to let them know I’d responded to their comment. I also eliminate most people’s last names from their comment. Just in case.
And yes, there are a few readers who I’ve allowed to contact me “off blog.” It’s amazing how most people’s writing voice so echoes their real one. So it was no great surprise that when I met up with Lesley, my most prolific commenter, in Scotland last month, she was just as warm and clever and wise as she was “on blog.” I also talked to Phil while in the UK and his sardonic wit was spot on as well. It’s funny, because we have so much more to talk about than NPD now. Life has a strange way of moving on. Believe it or not, but you will not always feel like this experience is consuming/has consumed you. The future awaits.
Readers can usually learn more from the comments than they can from reading my posts. So read up. And thank you for commenting!
Typeface for Comments is BigHouse.
Close to Home August 7, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Entertainment, Personal, Uncategorized.
Tags: Crowdfunding, Funding for films, Indiegogo, Personal
As a child, I couldn’t for the life of me sell Girl Scout cookies. My next door neighbor, Mrs. Dodge, would buy two boxes from me every year and I suspect my mother called her ahead of time.
So, when my filmmaker husband asked me to blog about his film End of the Beginning because he’s looking to raise $23,000 via crowdfunding on Indiegogo, I visibly winced.
What can I say, filmmaking is his passion. The script is great (I know because I did the final edit.) and those involved are professionals of the highest caliber. Want to buy a cookie?
Check it out. Click End of the Beginning. Even only one box of cookies would help. Boxes of cookies start at $20.
Ted Bundy’s Third Grade Teacher May 17, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Uncategorized.
Tags: 9-year-olds as Psychopaths, Conduct Disorder, Eddie Haskell, Education, Leave it to Beaver, Mental Health, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, New Scientist, NPD, ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Psychopathing Children, Psychopaths, Psychopathy, Robert Hare, Teaching, Ted Bundy, The Bad Seed
I don’t know who Ted Bundy‘s teacher was, but I can’t help but wonder if she (sorry, but the majority of elementary teachers do have that XX chromosome thing going), noticed anything off about young Ted? Serial killers may take a while to reach their full potential (ouch!), but from those who’ve been studied, it’s clear that there was something off early on. Perhaps the class hamster met an untimely death? Or maybe, like so many psychopaths, Ted skated by on superficial charm. Think Eddie Haskell from Leave It to Beaver.
‘Wally’ Cleaver: [at the bottom of the staircase, calling out to his mother upstairs] Hey, Mom!
June Cleaver: Yes, Wally.
‘Wally’ Cleaver: Could Eddie spend the night here?
June Cleaver: Not while your father’s away.
‘Eddie’ Haskell: [dejected] Boy. Everybody around here is wise to me. I might just have to move to a new town and start all over.
Historically, the Big Three predictors of aberrant behavior are bed wetting, cruelty to animals, and fire starting. Personally, I’d add laughing when other children are hurt and inappropriate remarks showing callowness and a lack of empathy. Yet while most people associate psychopaths with serial killers, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Feb 19, 2011 issue of New Scientist, a crackerjack science magazine, featured an interview with Kent Keihl, whose studied the origin in the brain of psychopathic behavior. Kent also grew up down the street from Ted Bundy which only stoked his interest in how two people in the same zip code take such different trajectories in life.
I couldn’t help but fixate on his comment, “There are probably many psychopaths out there who are not necessarily violent, but are leading very disruptive lives in the sense that they are getting involved in shady business deals, moving from job to job, or relationship to relationship, always using resources everywhere they go but never contributing. Such people inevitably leave a path of confusion, and often destruction behind them. “ (Bold face mine.)
Robert Hare, the Godfather of Psychopathy, wrote Sharks in Suits detailing how psychopaths have been able to thrive on Wall Street and as CEOs. Think Bernie Madoff and the path of destruction he left behind. And he didn’t even need duct tape!
I found Can You Call a 9 Year Old a Psychopath? featured last Sunday in The New York Times Magazine to be a fascinating read. The Huffington Post did a follow-up piece 9-Year-Old Psychopaths – Dr. Alan Ravitz on How to Diagnose Children as Psychopaths.
Okay, I teach 9-year-olds. Have I had any students who I thought were psychopaths? I can think of one, maybe two. But only time will tell. As teachers, we’re forever hopeful that we can make a difference. But still, I document everything so when America’s Most Wanted comes knocking, I’m ready.
The thinking has always been that it is irresponsible to diagnose/label a developing child as a psychopath. So children exhibiting symptoms that would be considered psychopathic traits in the adult population are diagnosed instead with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or with Conduct Disorder (CD). Rhoda, the character from the cult movie The Bad Seed , probably would have had CD. While not all of those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are psychopaths, all psychopaths have strong narcissistic traits. But this does not factor in as children are inherently narcissistic, so narcissism is a given. Bottom Line – Psychopathy, Anti-Social Personality (Sociopathy) and Narcissism are like close kin all dancing around that same May Pole of Lack of Empathy.
Some children diagnosed with these disorders eventually “grow out of them” and become functioning adults. The psychiatric community has always erred on the side of caution, as there’s much we don’t know about the developing human brain and/or the genetic predisposition for psychopathy. It’s the old nature vs. nurture, or possibly a N&N cocktail of circumstances. Just like drinking, you can’t become a psychopath until you’re 18.
That said, I’ve got stories. I’ve had students whose parents thought I was the teacher who could turn their child around. And I tried mightly – but the Mississippi flows south. I have a friend who carries a mug that says Miracle Worker, but as teachers we can only do so much. We’d all like to think that we can be The One who makes a difference, but more often than not the die is cast. I take no joy in saying this.
When I tell people I teach third grade, their response if often, “Oh, they’s so cute at that age. They don’t have all the problems that come with older kids.” What rock have they been hiding under? We have students who have had IEPs (Individual Education Plans) since Kindergarten to deal with a variety of emotional issues (frequently a result of abuse), but sometimes not.
I’ve had students who laughed when another child was hurt (and not the nervous laugh), or go out of their way to inflict physical or emotional pain on their peers. I’ve also had students who were bald faced liars and master manipulators – at 7 years of age. I even had a student who so terrified his babysitter that he made her pay him $5 day to go to school! And I’ve had parents in denial while others were at wit’s end as to how to deal with their child’s behavior.
I’ve seen some scary s*it, so I remain vigilant – and I document everything. I’ve also never had a class hamster – just in case.
Why Teachers Kick Ass January 12, 2012Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching, Uncategorized.
Tags: Education, Ideal Class Size, Inspirational, Saturday Night Armistice, Teachers Making a Difference, Teaching, What do Teachers Make
Thanks to Michelle, my former student teacher who is now gainfully employed, for sharing this. Today was a very long day and even though I’ve heard versions of this, with the graphics and the voiceover, it was just what I needed after another day of “making a difference.”
“How was it coming back after break,” some idiot asked. Well, actually, it was like getting slapped in the face with a cold fish. It didn’t help that no sooner had school started than Student #32 was dropped off on my doorstep. He’s from Korea and doesn’t know a word of English. I didn’t have a desk for him and ended up rearranging the entire classroom to handle what is beginning to resemble a small city of rather small people.
Here’s the difference I’ve made in the three days I’ve been back.
1) Said student from Korea can now say, “Teacher!” I’ve had to discourage him from getting other students’ attention by pinching them. (Though it DOES do the trick.) He’s obviously bright, so I pull out my iPhone and use my translation app for words like “crazy.” I’ve taught my students what the expression “lightning in a bottle” means, as I believe this best describes the new kid. He’s got a ready smile and the gung ho enthusiasm of a puppy.
2) Nature Club, my resident group of tree huggers, was elated today to hear they would not lose their beloved clubhouse. Their “clubhouse” is actually a narrow passage behind the chain link backstop on the baseball diamond. (I hesitate even calling it this, as it implies there’s some sort of diamond – there’s not.) I’m not exactly sure what it is that Nature Club does. I do know it involves carrying a basket of seed pods and twigs out to the playground to decorate the “clubhouse.” They had been told by a yard supervisor that they would have to move and were outraged. They asked me about getting a lawyer. I convinced them that a persuasive letter was more in their price range. They got to writing. I was so glad to hear today that they got their “clubhouse” back, as I was envisioning a peaceful protest involving them dressed as leaves. I’m counting that as one more crisis averted. Did I mention that they keep logs in my classroom?
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. For friends who’ve asked, I’m once again posting my a favorite video Ideal Class Size from my post The Rising Body Count. Notice how things start to go downhill after 23. Oh yeah…
Steve Jobs, iNarcissist December 12, 2011Posted by alwaysjan in Uncategorized.
Tags: Apple, Candle Ap, Free Candle Ap, Health, Maureen Dowd, Michael Maccoby, Narcissism, Narcissistic Leaders, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Steve Jobs biography, Steve Jobs Narcissist, Was Steve Jobs a Narcissist?
Steve Jobs was obsessed with beauty. He was a perfectionist who did not suffer fools. He could be a tyrannical boss who brought out the best in some, while humiliating others deemed less worthy. He could be incredibly charming. More frequently, he could be a pompous ass given to fits of crying when he didn’t get his way. Yes, he changed the world. But make no mistake, Steve Jobs was a classic narcissist.
I was surprised when I read The Limits of Magical Thinking, an otherwise insightful article by Maureen Dowd, and there was no mention of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). She had read the Walter Isaacson biography. There’s one mention of him suffering from possible mild bi-polarity. Hello? How could she have not seen the red flags?
I have to admit was a bit perplexed when I heard Jobs had asked Walter Isaacson to write his biography so his children might better know him and why he often wasn’t there for them.
I bought the book the day it was released, so I, too, might better know Steve Jobs. I’m an avid Apple consumer, dare I say devotee. Upon learning of his death, I wrote Steve Jobs – The Real Big Apple as a tribute. But, I have to admit that my knowledge about Steve Jobs as a person was sketchy. What can I say? I must have been busy breastfeeding and changing diapers when he was on the cover of TIME. And speaking of covers, Steve Jobs personally approved the cover design for his biography. (He was a control freak to the end.)
It’s been a while since I parted with $32 for a hardcover book, so as I was reading, I hesitated marking up the book. But after the umpteenth reference to his ability to “manipulate” others, I pulled out a pencil. The book now looks like a dot-to-dot drawing. If you connect them, you have yourself a world-class narcissist, albeit an extremely productive one.
Most telling was Jobs’ relationship with Tina Redse which ran hot and cold for five years. After one argument, she scrawled “Neglect is a form of abuse,” on the wall to his bedroom. According to Isaacson, “She was entranced by him, but she was also baffled by how uncaring he could be. She would later recall how incredibly painful it was to be in love with someone so self-centered. Caring deeply about someone who seemed incapable of caring was a particular kind of hell that she wouldn’t wish on anyone, she said.”
It was only after they broke up that Redse helped found OpenMind, a mental health resource network in California. She read about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and realized that Jobs met the criteria – perfectly. “It fits so well and explained so much of what we had struggled with, that I realized expecting him to be nicer or less self-centered was like expecting a blind man to see,” she said. “It also explained some of the choices he’d made about his daughter Lisa (born out of wedlock just like Jobs was) at that time. I think the issue is empathy – the capacity for empathy is lacking.”
Even as Jobs contemplated marrying his wife Laurene, he still had not decided if he was going to put all of his apples in one basket. (Sorry, that’s one pun I couldn’t resist!) He asked friends who they thought was more beautiful, Tina or Laurene. What’s funny is Tina was so not available at that point.
Though married for 20 years, I believe that Steve Jobs’ “Ideal Love” was not his wife, Laurene, but Apple, the baby he’d created back in that garage with Steve Wozniak. Laurene was obviously a strong woman with a life of her own. She makes brief cameos in his biography always playing the consummate nurturer. At one point, she and one of their daughters appear in beekeepers suits. She was obviously warm and giving and made up for his physical and emotional absence. It’s an all too familiar dynamic.
If you’ve had a close encounter with a narcissist, you’ll see red flags everywhere in the book. The only difference between your garden variety narcissist and Steve Jobs is that his magical thinking served him well, at least in business. He was a millionaire at 25. Imagine how that fueled his NPD? Though he walked around barefoot, he still couldn’t walk on water though there are those who would argue that I’m wrong. Since first writing this, I’ve read Was Steve Jobs’ Narcissism Justified? on the Psychology Today site. It’s an excellent read. If the jury was out in regards to Jobs’ narcissism, it’s now IN.
I found Walter Isaacson’s biography to be an interesting read. But will his book help Jobs’ children better understand their father? I think not. Steve Jobs remains an emotional enigma even in death.
I came across another great article Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons by Michael Maccoby and originally published in the Harvard Business Review. Very interesting reading indeed.
One more thing…This post was written on my beloved MacBook, the photo was taken with my iPhone, and as I write this I’m listening to music on my iPod. Oh, the iRony.
Photo Credit: Jan Marshall
Lockdown! November 27, 2011Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching, Uncategorized.
Tags: Classroom humor, Humor, Lockdown, Shelter in Place, Students during lockdown, Teaching, Third Grade
Forget Black Friday. Crowd control? Violence? People trying to claw their way to the front of the line? Hell, every day is Black Friday when you’re a teacher.
In keeping with my mantra, “I expect chaos, so I’m never disappointed” mantra, my school recently went into lockdown mode.
Never mind that what used to be called “Lockdown” is now referred to as “Shelter in Place.” When things got dicey, the voice over the PA made it clear. “Teachers we are in lockdown. This is not a drill!”
I dutifully locked the door to the classroom (Thank god I could find my keys on the mess that is my desk!) One student asked if someone might be coming into the school with a gun. “That’s unlikely,” I replied. “But if anyone does, I’ll take a bullet for you. That’s why I make the big bucks.” My students seemed relieved. “Now let’s get back to those Thanksgiving turkeys,” I chirped.
It helped immensely that half of my class (31 students, yes 31!) was out of the class on the Woodworking Bus. I was busily dipping the coffee filters that had been colored with magic markers into a glass of water. These would be the turkey’s feathers. “Ooh! Aah!” Kids never cease to be amazed at the results. But the sound of helicopters nearby was hard to ignore. Someone jiggled the doorknob and students froze. ‘They’re just checking to make sure we’re safe,” I said. I casually strolled over to the glass just to make sure Michael Myers was not lurking outside.
An hour passed. The kids complained that recess had come and gone, like it was MY fault that we couldn’t go outside. After another 20 minutes had passed, some started in on their snacks. It was then that one boy said, “I have to go to the bathroom.” I ordered him to quit sucking on his juice pack, but it was too late. “I really have to go,” he repeated.
For six years, I’ve had an emergency potty in my room. It’s basically a plastic waste paper basket with a rubber lid. A bin of books is balanced on it, so the kids hadn’t even noticed it. We popped it open to see what was inside: a blue plastic tarp, pairs of latex gloves, plastic bags, a bag of kitty litter, and a roll of toilet paper.
“I really have to go,” moaned the juice-slurper. I figured out how to drape the plastic tarp – one end on the metal cabinets and the other on my easel. Not bad. The boy was now doing the potty dance, a sight that strikes fear into the heart of all teachers.
I had all of the kids move to the far side of the class. “Keep coloring those turkeys!” I ordered. You could have heard a pin drop. And that was the problem. No one wants to have everyone hear them “go.” I found my Muse CD and cranked it up LOUD, guitar riffs and all.
The first boy went. He emerged smiling from the makeshift restroom. I handed him a leftover Halloween cup half-filled with kitty litter and instructed him to go back and toss it in. A second boy came forward. He used the potty. More kitty litter. Finally, another boy said, “Oh, I might as well.” He complained that there was kitty litter around the rim and requested a wipe to clean it off. No sooner had he gone than there was a knock at our door. Security was escorting children to the bathrooms for a quick break.
The three boys stayed behind. “We don’t need to go because we went IN CLASS!” they bragged. I gave them a Sharpie and let them autograph the toilet. They insisted on writing the date beside their names.
I’m afraid the children who were most traumatized by the lockdown were those out in the Woodworking Bus. They were forced to go into a kindergarten classroom and then herded into the auditorium where they were, according to them, forced to sing the “Hokey Pokey” over and over. Their eyes were glassy.
Later we learned the lockdown was due to three pipe bombs found in the apartment of a parolee who’d been arrested the night before. His apartment was a block from the school, but the Fire Department issued the lockdown as a precaution as the Bomb Squad went in and detonated the bombs. The parolee had served time in prison for methamphetamine use. “Boy, meth will make your teeth fall out,” I warned the kids. “Never an attractive look.” This is what’s called a Teachable Moment.
Later, a custodian came in to remove the emergency potty for cleaning. Another teacher asked if I put the plastic bag inside the potty. Plastic bag? I asked. Oh crap! That’s what they were for? Said potty has yet to be returned, but we’ll know it when we see it cause it’s got our names written all over it.
Just another day in Paradise.
Raincheck on the Rapture May 21, 2011Posted by alwaysjan in Uncategorized.
Tags: aging, Center for Disaster Control, High School Reunions, Humor, Pop Culture, Post-Rapture looting, Rapture raincheck, Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Survival Kit
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Just when I’d RSVP’d for a little post-Rapture looting, it looks like I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Dang! I’d so looked forward to not having to get ready for Open House or ever having to clean my own house again. (Not that I ever did.)
Last December I wrote a post Surviving Christmas and the Zombie Apocalypse. Not to say I told you so, but - now the Center for Disaster Control (CDC) is sounding the clarion call and offering advice on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. Click HERE to view. I was but the canary in the coal mine in warning the public of this impending threat.
Okay, maybe I’m just feeling a little on edge since becoming Facebook friends with my high school. There’s been what appears to be a virtual zombie walk of the undead looking for me – oh, wait a minute, those would be my former classmates! OMG! Could that mean that I’ve aged too? The horror!
I did get that Swiss Army Knife for Christmas (Ironically, it was the “Climber” model), but I’m beginning to think I need to beef up my survival kit with a little Botox as well.