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Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 2 July 15, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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I’m not a diehard Mad Men fan, but when I ran across a copy of Sterling’s Gold – Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Manmy first thought was, “Forget Sterling, this is NPD Gold!” The book is ostensibly written by Roger Sterling, Jr., better known as Don Draper’s boss. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve written about Don Draper in Is Don Draper the Devil or a Narcissist?

I thought some of the quotes in the book would make excellent jumping off points to discuss questions that keep appearing via the Search Engines that churn 24/7. I’ve been addressing some of those questions in my The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism series, but it’s summer so I’m down for something different.

 “Lack of Empathy”

It is the Narcissist’s lack of empathy that is their trump card. No matter what you do or say, that bored/put upon look on their faces (sometimes accompanied by an eye roll) says it all. Your concerns are so utterly trivial. You’re boring me! It’s the Narcissist’s lack of empathy that ultimately reveals who they are and more importantly, who they aren’t.

We recently had a lively discussion on Empathy vs. Sympathy on my blog. Thanks to those who put in their two cents. I believe we now have enough to buy a cup of coffee or a cuppa. Make no mistake – it is the Narcissist’s lack of empathy that reveals their inner void. They are literally unable to see beyond their own noses due to their stunted egos. They can be like cranky children who need a nap and can argue endlessly contradicting themselves as they go. It’s all about them. It’s their party and they’ll cry if they want to, but don’t you dare cry!

When you call the N on their bad behavior, whether it be blatant lies, lies by omission, cheating on you, or just not showing the teeniest bit of interest in the things that matter most to you, you become a nattering needy nuisance. Make no mistake. It’s not love or anger that will kill your soul – it’s indifference. The Narcissist has an uncanny ability to deny that your concerns are real. It’s all in your imagination!

No matter how carefully you try to frame your concerns, you’ll be accused of being “too sensitive” “too needy” or “a drama queen.”

Women (especially) often resort to writing a letter so they can be heard. Since the Narcissist won’t indulge in a genuine conversation, they hope to say what’s really on their minds minus the rolling of the eyes. They choose their words oh-so carefully, so as not to inflame or offend. They mail the letter only to get no response. Nada.

The real danger is that where your thoughts are routinely dismissed or belittled, you begin to stop expressing your thoughts. No one wants to say something only to have it shot down. You begin to self censor. The N has literally “got your tongue.”

Most Ns sling their verbal arrows behind closed doors. So if you dare tell someone what you’re experiencing – they’ll give you that look. The look that tells you that perhaps YOU are the one with the problem. Some people have said it would have been better to have been physically abused – at least they’d have visible scars to prove the abuse they suffered.

I once confided in my friend “Joe” that I’d just learned that one of my students was being sexually abused by her father. He’d met the girl, so I thought he’d find this news upsetting. A simple, “That’s awful” would have sufficed. Instead, his reaction was, “I hope you’re not going to get all emotional about this because that will just get in the way of our project.” He couldn’t be bothered.

To the  N, a genuine emotion is a Level Red Security Alert. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! They don’t know how to respond. Instead, they tend to have comeback lines that they can deliver with chilling detachment. Their response is designed to shut down any meaningful conversation. When a person does not have a voice, they slowly cease to exist. They begin to fade into the background like a TV set left on. This is fine with the Narcissist as they really could care less about your concerns. If you think otherwise, they’ll just change the channel and up the volume to drown you out – and leave you to lick your “imaginary wounds.”


1. Trapped - July 22, 2012

Here is a direct quote from a text sent by my ex-NPD a few days ago after he learned that i had suffered multiple broken bones in my face following a fall, now needing surgery to correct the deformities that have resulted…”The only one who knows the effect the universe has on us is the one being effected. It’s a feeling thing. Nobody can feel it for you. For me the intensity of your emotions equals the manifestation that appears in ones life.” Then he goes on to say “If you need to talk, you know my number.”

Am I correct in my diagnosis of this guy? No one can feel it for you. Translation “I have no idea at all what to say because I really don’t care and I cannot even imagine your problem since it doesn’t directly effect me. Besides, anything you have had happen to you is your own fault.” and instead of “do you need anything? Can I do anything for you?’ it is “you know my number” as if that is such a great gift that he would talk to me.

This comment is a so utterly uncaring, it’s almost laughable – though it sounds as though laughing might be quite painful considering your injuries. 🙂 A simple, “Can I do anything for you?” would have been SO easy. So human. Yet he managed to “dismiss” the severity of your injury and put you at fault. N’s communication is designed to confuse rather than clarify, so this is exactly the kind of comment I’m talking about. Ouch! I wish you a full recovery both physically and emotionally. Jan


2. SeekingCharity - July 22, 2012

OMG, Trapped! “The only one who knows the effect the universe has on us is the one being effected. It’s a feeling thing. Nobody can feel it for you.” …and… “If you need to talk, you know my number.”

I believe your assessment of that person is right on. If that person isn’t an N, I’ll eat my hat.

I don’t know you, but I am so sorry that you have been so badly injured!

It’s all so sadly familiar. I was “wired” by my N parents to accept N behavior in my adult relationships. One horrible relationship after another, beginning with my first abusive marriage at age 16. I always thought the fault was mine, because I was the common denominator. Again, I was hard-wired by my N parents’ to believe that everything was my fault.

Thank you for posting this.


I can’t even fathom growing up with not one – but two – narcissistic parents! Especially since children tend accept whatever is going on at home as “normal” until they get out in the world and learn otherwise. It’s very hard to rewire some things learned in childhood, but it CAN be done, especially if you’re aware of how/why you came to believe those things in the first place. Wishing you peace. Jan


3. kiwigal007 - July 22, 2012

I can relate Trapped because the NPD is only thinking again of themselves. They may say all these things that they think will make us feel better but they are incapable or choose not to. Alot of the time I was told by mine ‘we have choices’ and whilst this is correct, I did not need him to drum it into me all of the time, I too felt it may have been ‘better’ to have been physically abused than verbally. Narc’s are very good at twisting a situation and putting it back on to you. I am very sorry for what has happened to you too Trapped and I hope you make a good recovery.

PS Your diagnosis of the man is correct. I longed for my Narc to say, if there is anything you need, anything I can do, just call me and I will be right over. My relationship with mine said that online to me once but when I went through the suffering I was going through, he could not cope with it all. It was too much for him and that is why these sad people cannot sustain a loving healthy relationship. It is like dating Peter Pan or a man-child.

I think what’s saddest is that they often KNOW what we need/want to hear yet CHOOSE not to say it. I believe it gives them a sense of control/superiority/whatever you want to call it. As my students would say, “That’s just mean!” Jan


4. Lesley - July 22, 2012

Hey there Shell and Trapped,
For info my ex used to say repeatedly ‘You know you… I don’t know you…’ as if excepting himself from any real empathic feeling. If any prob emerged, this was a standard response.They have worked out words to say to put others’on hold’. It’s kind of like pressing the pause button on you.
What they are really saying is,’Over the years I have worked out that I have no capacity to understand anyone else’s problems and in the end I only care about myself and how things affect me anyway.’
It takes a while before these’verbal’ tricks start to add up.
Shell thanks for e mail,sorry you’ve been so ill…will reply with pic tomorrow….speak soon,

The pause button is an apt analogy. After I’m “put on hold” for too long while waiting to talk to a customer representative, I often just give up and hang up. In effect, they’re hoping you’ll give up on the topic and hang up. Did someone say pictures? Jan


5. Lesley - July 22, 2012

Re Pic Jan, Hopefully this will make you smile…madman activity coming up.
When it ended with my ex he refused point blank to give me any of my pics back. Recent ones of trips, pics of me etc. I had a few on his PC, some I quite cherished. No, he wouldn’t give in..even took all SD cards from a Digicam we shared. His reasoning was;
‘You are not going to have any of the pics I took of you because you will use them to attract other men’
Er…what?? (He discarded me,remember?)

I was left with some blurry old phone pics of myself.
Anyway back at my own wee ranch, I eventually found an old cam and have just taken some new pics of myself, my parents etc so that Shell can see who she’s talking to. Will send one onto you also when I put them on PC tomorrow.

Cool. You show my yours – I’ll show you mine! Jan


6. kiwigal007 - July 23, 2012

Hey Les, Jan and everyone
Looking forward to hearing from you soon, I sent your email off last night.. Have had a very rough week healthwise here so starting to get better with the new meds… still they are big ‘horse’ tablets as I call them.. meaning they take a bit to swallow. Hehehe, yes you made me laugh when you too told me about those photos.. how stupid is that. Its a bit like the Gmail incident I have at the moment.

Jan, you hit the nail on the head. Yep whether he CHOSE to support me or not was the question. He was better at communicating online than offline and at times I wonder what that was all about. He could have been with me during that time but he CHOOSE not to and would wait for Friday night knowing I would be with him over the weekend up until Monday morning, then he could text, chat to me via Gmail…

Your students are right.. that’s just mean.


7. kiwigal007 - July 23, 2012

whoops CHOSE sorry for the last sentence… I could have CHOSEN not to correct my mistakes but I made a CHOICE that I would 😉

I chose to make the correction. Catherine Sherman (on my blogroll) and I are college friends (jeez, I almost wrote chums!). We frequently ask each other to fix comments we made on each other’s blogs. 🙂 Jan


8. Catherine Sherman - July 23, 2012

When I read about Narcissists I also think of alcoholics and substance abusers, because when they are using they very much lack empathy. One alcoholic I knew very well would use one slogan from AA to distance himself from his own hurtful behavior: “You are not responsible for other people’s feelings.” I believe the intent of the slogan was to suggest that those who are hurt by alcoholics (and Ns) are not to blame when an alcoholic or N treats us badly. But see how the alcoholic turns it around to say that he can freely do what he wants, and if you get hurt, it’s your own fault. The Ns seem to think the same way, although they probably don’t even consider that you have feelings to hurt, nor care. They certainly don’t blame themselves, because they are blameless and faultless.

Just yesterday I read someone’s blog where they claimed that all addicts were narcissists, because their addiction is their number one priority. The only difference with Ns is their drug of choice is Narcissistic Supply (NS) as in people. I’d never thought of it that way, so I’ll have to think on this some more. Obviously, this doesn’t go for recovering addicts who are working to free themselves from the grip of a substance. Jan


9. Charity ~ HealingFromBroken - July 25, 2012

Reading in comment #8 about the AA guy who misused the adage “You are not responsible for other people’s feelings” as a way of ridding himself of guilt for hurting someone, reminds me of a guy I knew from AA whom I had thought of as a friend. One day in passing he said something to me that was deeply hurtful… so hurtful that it took my breath away and I couldn’t even speak. A couple of hours later when I finally found my tongue, I called and told him that what he said had hurt me.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Now get over it.” !!!

I got over it, all right. I got over thinking of him as a friend!


There’s so many issues here. The first two you have no control over: 1) What the person said, which was obviously inappropriate or disturbing, and 2) their inability to acknowledge that what they said hurt your feelings. I was recently reading that some people offer an explanation in lieu of an apology. “I was drunk” “I was stressed out” “I was having a bad day” and so on. But they can’t bring themselves to say the one thing we need to hear. “I’m sorry that I hurt you.” 3) You called the person on their bad behavior and 4) This dismissed your feelings. Ick!
When people have spoken to me in such a manner and didn’t immediately seek me out to apologize, I take my permanent Sharpie marker and cross their names off my list. You were wise to do the same. Jan


10. Donna - August 1, 2012

I have a question to present to all here, it’s my natural curiousity working…….

Did any of your encounters with N’s reveal that they had numberous “Phobias”? My exnf had a huge fear of spiders or anything that crawled, the drinking water had smells and taste that he could not tolerate, he had very sensitive feet and couldn’t walk on anything in his bare feet. He washed clothes everyday because of sweating and he had special shoes for everything occassion. He also had numerous gastrointestinal problems, sleep problems, low back problems, and depression. The last ailment he mentioned was carpel tunnel in his wrists.

I understand that some of us have these problems also, so is it just me wondering?

I feel for him so much with all these ailments, because of my very caring nature; especially as he gets older, however not enough for me to get involved with him again and get my feelings stomped on and pushed away.

As you mentioned above Jan, it’s too much of a risk to reach out ever again……. Just wanted to know if anyone else had experienced the “Phobias”. Take care all!!!

Sounds like the glue factory is the next stop! LOL If I had all of those ailments, I might be depressed too. Well, as one ages, things have a way of catching up with you. This could just be his current state and he doesn’t mind telling all the details. Other people don’t like to rattle off their complaints, as no one really wants to hear, especially when we all have our own issues.
My friend Lesley’s mum (in England, not Scottish Lesley) says, “Everyone has their cross to bear, but some people drag theirs around so that other people can trip over it.”
The N I knew could be rather child-like in terms of whatever ailed him – they are emotionally stalled at around 6, so that would explain that when THEY are ailing, they want their mother to start making the Jell-o. Mine was also a very picky eater and didn’t mind letting everyone know. Yet I would see him steal cookies at an event are stuff himself with something he’s swore he didn’t eat. Go figure.


kiwigal007 - August 3, 2012

Hi Donna
Your question you wrote the other day really amused me actually as it brought back the ailments that my BPD/Narc/Mad Man had when we were together. The first one is somewhat personal but yeah he had problems ‘there’ to begin with, telling me that he and his ex only ever did that sort of thing on special occasions or on birthdays and that it was her that did not want it. After our relationship came out of the honeymoon period, it started to get less frequent too and then it reached the stage he told me, we can have everything but he couldn’t cope with the initmacy anymore…. This was after a wonderful first couple of years and then his true colours came out and he….

Then he started to complain about a bad back which he later claimed the Navy diagnosed him with Sciatica yet they still kept him on despite failing a few beep tests but… ordering the troops around the parade ground and lots of shouting seemed to be OK!!

Finally… he was rather obessed in the way things had to be done sometimes like chopping up the veges for our dinner especially when some had to be these little thin strips of carrot for our Vietnamese dishes.

It was only he and I eating it yet my matchstick ones sometimes were deemed too thick… so one day when he wasnt around I decided to use the vege peeler a bit more after I had peeled the veges. I then peeled them again and then thinly sliced the carrot so they looked nice for our Vietnamese or Asian dish salads or whatever it was the called for thin strips. C was none of the wiser and even was rather delighted after that so I continued to
with it up until we parted ways 7 years later!


11. Lesley - August 2, 2012

Hi Donna,
No my ex wasn’t a hypochondriac about illnesses nor did he have any distinct phobias but he was careless with his health…could eat or drink too much at times.He had creeping high blood pressure etc but didn’t always listen to the doctors advice.He knew better?
He had no time for other’s ailments,no ability to empathise really.
He would compliment me on ‘Being a trooper’…because he hated’These people who are always ill’. I was raised as a bit of a Spartan Baby…(LOL),so I suppose that suited him.
I just see it as him not wanting to take responsibility for anyone,he didn’t want the hassle. A previous girlfriend had suffered from a chronic stomach condition all her life and left him after he dumped her at the hospital after a bad attack.
I’m laughing(wryly) as I repeat his words..He said ‘ What did she expect me to do,hang around like a lemon… I drove her there..didn’t I?’
She went onto have an emergency operation on her intestine!
Oh…just remembered…at the time of his discard of me I was due to go into hospital for a minor procedure.I don’t think he ever asked me how it went?
By their actions you shall know them!!!


12. kiwigal007 - August 3, 2012

Oh Les you made me giggle when I got to the spartan baby bit… I think we must all have been one to have put up with these Narcs too and all their troubles, tantrums and tiaras… 😉 (Sorry I was thinking of Elton John as I wrote that).


Lesley - August 3, 2012

Hey there…
Well I wasn’t quite left out on the hillside Shell…but almost!
No… I meant that unlike some of us that can’t use illness to get sympathy…( I had to go to school regardless!)
Left you message on your blog…did you get it,might have been having blonde moment?

I laughed at the spartan baby bit too as I realized I WAS one (though I don’t think Dr. Spock used that term). 🙂 Unless I was vomiting or had a temperature, I went to school. As a teacher, that’s still true. Jan


kiwigal007 - August 3, 2012

That’s it, anyone who is part of this blog is a Spartan baby!! We are the strong sensitive ones that made the escape from the ones that were weak… (the Narc) hehehehe!!! No I don’t think Spock used the term either!! 😉

Which blog are you referring to Les? I checked both and did not find anything? Sorry buddy! 🙂


13. kiwigal007 - August 3, 2012

PS Oops yes Les I knew what you meant, I just loved the way you used it in that context. It was very good.


14. MickeyD - August 18, 2012

I remember telling my N that I had been in an auto accident (over the phone)…it was the first time ever I felt he really cared, seemed genuinely concerned about the details, and was so glad that I was going to be okay. He did mention that he’s not sure “what he would do if something tragic would have happened to me”….obviously this is all about HIM, but, what else is new. Anyway, I talked to him a couple weeks later, he asked what I’ve been up to, mentioned I’ve been working out the details of getting my vehicle fixed since the accident. This is what he said…”what accident??? You didn’t tell me you were in an accident”. I told him I certainly did, even reiterated what his response was. His response, “I’m pretty sure I would have remembered something like that”!!! Ayiyiyiyiyi.

I have to laugh because the N in my life also said on several occasions, “I would have remembered something like that!” As I wrote to an earlier commenter, I really don’t believe they are actually listening to what you say unless it pertains to….them. I can’t help but wonder if they don’t really “hear” it or if this is just a mind game. Jan


15. Am I The Crazy One - November 22, 2012

My N never gave a damn about anyone but himself. Especially towards the end.

A family member of mine was sick throughout the night and I called him because I was worried. After 10 min or so he said, “So what am I suppose to do about this?” We were in a long distance relationship, so no, he couldn’t drive over and help me, but there was no need to be so cold!

I told him that I was sexually assaulted this year (before I met him) and I was still going through the legal process and counseling. He became angry with me and demanded to know why I hadn’t told him and why did I have so many “secrets”?

I’m sorry, but some things are private, especially if you don’t know whether the person will judge you or not. And I definitely felt judged after I told him and I regret it so much. He made it sound as though I was the person on trial. But then again he always acted as though he needed to know EVERYTHING about me and anything that I held back hurt our relationship.

Back on topic: when I was sick, had a migraine, anything, he wouldn’t even ask about it and acted as though he forgot or I wasn’t really sick (yes he actually accused me of lying about having the flu; I was sick for three weeks!). But if he even caught the sniffles it was a tragic event and he might “go” at any moment. And I was an idiot because I would always try to soothe the poor baby.

No one was ever as sick as he was. No one ever had as much pain as he did. No one ever experienced sorrow like he did.

Towards the end of our relationship he said something completely stupid. He said that people in the city didn’t cope with death as well as people in the country (and you guessed it, he is from the country). He said country people just handle funerals better and don’t become “useless” (yes, useless) when someone dies.

When I mentioned how I would feel if I lost a child, he again said that he hoped I wouldn’t stay in a “rut” for too long and forget the other children.

Just heartless. Why oh why did I want to stay with him?!

Sorry to have taken so long to respond to this comment. Now that all the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed, I’m hoping to get on with my life. 🙂 Yes, the comments he made sound all too familiar. When someone is hurting, it requires you to care and act selflessly. This is something that Ns can only pretend to do. The heartless drivel that they spout makes you wonder. But I believe it’s their way of keeping a safe distance between themselves and “feelings” which are alien to them.
There are women who have stayed with men (and vice versa) for YEARS despite their cruel comments. Why? For many, they actually think they are the exception to the rule – they will nurse that poor baby bird (the N) back to health. They will show him through their own unconditional love, what love is. Ultimately, though, it’s akin to beating one’s head against a wall. Over and over again. Jan


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