jump to navigation

A Psychologist’s Open Letter Regarding Narcissism August 30, 2015

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Politics.
Tags: , , , , , ,


A friend, who is a therapist, just posted a link to  A Psychologist’s Open Letter to U.S. Voters from The Huffington Post. This is definitely worth a read as Dr. Craig Malkin, a Clinical Psychologist and Instructor at the Harvard Medical School, addresses the narcissistic continuum as it pertains to politics. He cautions voters to be wary of what they applaud for as their applause is music aka Narcissistic Supply to the Narcissist’s ears. A very interesting read.

Looking Forward August 26, 2015

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Personal.
Tags: , , , , , ,


I last posted in February just a week before my mother died. She was old and she was ill, so it was not a surprise. But still… Just nine weeks later my husband’s mother died. She, too, was old. But she knew exactly what was going on and was ready to move on. But still…

I assured my students that both of our mothers had long happy lives. To be honest, while I received lovely notes from parents, my students were most affected by the death of our 18-year-old pig, Maisie, last October  Maisie was a larger than life pig with a larger than life personality. I still can’t bring myself to scrub the mud off the side door where she’d push her way inside.

And now our 15-year-old dog, Petey, has become a three-legged dog, so he literally has one foot in the grave. There’s another hole to be dug. It’s been quite the year, but don’t we all have years like that? I’m not complaining. It is what it is. It’s called Life. We’ve also had lots of laughs along with the tears.

I’d planned that last year would be my final year of teaching. I loved the kids (okay, most of them), but after 11 years of teaching, I, too, was ready to move on.  I take no responsibility that Jon Stewart also decided it was time to jump ship.

So far, (in no particular order), I’ve:

  • Cleaned all of the teacher crap out of my car (11 years worth!)
  • Started writing about things NOT related to Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Planted an LA Noir garden of black pansies and black dahlias (Did you know that in Portuguese, pansies are called “Perfect Love?”) Pansies were my mother’s favorite flower.
  • Became an Airbnb Superhost with my husband. I like that badge on our photo. It’s not the Purple Heart, but I’ll take it. We have met so many wonderful and interesting people.
  • Watched the first season of Poldark.
  • Successfully signed up for the AFA aka Obamacare. Whew! Glad to have that option.
  • Cooked THREE tortillas español with our guest Ana for a huge paella party before she and Francesco returned to Portugal. Sad face.
  • Enjoyed many conversations in español with Francesco. He can now say that people “have issues” and when having a tech problem he says, “I’m no Apple Genius!”
  • Discovered the online language program Duolingo and am determined to finally become fluent in Spanish – my husband says he feels like he’s living with a teenager addicted to video games. I highly recommend this program. It’s free! Ding!
  • Discovered Michael Connelly’s crime books which are a great way to pass a  hot summer night.
  • Booked a trip to England to go on a Thelma & Louise road trip with my best friend Lesley through England & Wales.

So, life is good. I haven’t got this all figured out yet, but I’m moving forward. It’s been said you can’t write a new chapter of your life if you’re constantly rereading the last one. That’s my segue to Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I’ve been tempted to write about NPD, but in the last year I’ve been so lucky to have had so many kind people in my life to help smooth the bumpy ride that I haven’t felt compelled to revisit this topic though I still read voraciously about it.

For a smile each day, I visit Esther the Wonder Pig on Facebook. I find it makes me a better person, as I’m often reminded, “Why would anyone choose to be anything but kind?”

There’s been so much in the news about narcissism. Just google “Donald Trump Narcissist” and you are set with reading for the rest of August. Yes, he is exactly how most people envision a Narcissist. A bragging, brash bully. If you dare to question/cross him, he spews venom. Ugh!

But in reality, most narcissists are small men (yes, there are women too) who are not charismatic leaders. They are legends in their own mind presiding over, no make that lording over, their nearest and dearest. My concern is that although Narcissism is now in the lexicon (unlike when I started blogging), most people envision someone like Trump. Not everyone beats their drum so loudly.

Over the years, I’ve had numerous people send me a photo of the narcissist who darkened their door. They wanted me to see for myself just how drop dead gorgeous this person was. Now you can see, Jan, why I can’t move on?

What I received were photos of the most average looking people you can imagine. This only goes to show how Narcissists are able to swoop in and crop dust with fairy dust. The unsuspecting are still picking fairy dust out of their eyes and hair when the Narcissist’s mask begins to slip.  Ahhh, but that’s a story for another post.

Enough about me. I’m hoping all of those reading this have a plan to move forward. Sometimes we take two steps back and then one step forward, but as long as you’re headed in the right direction, there’s hope. Remember, “Why would anyone choose to be anything but kind?” Surround yourself with people who are.

Shall We Play a Game? February 14, 2015

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Narcissistic Game Playing is the most frequently viewed post on Planetjan. Perhaps the emotional game of “Tag! You’re it!” and the subsequent chase that is the hallmark of a relationship with a narcissist resonates with readers. Just when you think you are finally IT, the narcissist runs away and expects you to give chase. If you cry out in despair, they will mock you or accuse you of being too needy. You made me run away! Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to engage in narcissistic game playing. And there is only one way for you to WIN this game.

Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are the consummate cons and this is how they roll. With such a barren inner life, narcissists derive much pleasure from engaging you, or complete strangers, in games, so they can do what they do best… bluff, evade, and even show you their poker face (though at times you might detect a snicker).

They can balance an endless number of women or “friends” like plates in the air, while giving NONE of them a second thought. They like to keep you guessing and will manufacture scenarios to make you jealous. You will never get the full story from them. There is always a missing piece of the puzzle. They like to feel that they are always in demand though actual demands scare them. Your feelings annoy them. Your attempts to explain your feelings annoy them even more. If you’re like many women, you persist. “Yes, but I am special. Things will be different with me. I can make them change.”

If this sounds at all familiar, it’s time to take off that tinfoil hat. I’m sure you really are a unique and caring person. It’s just that the narcissist doesn’t care about you as a person. In fact it’s your human needs and wants that make it impossible for them to have a relationship with you or anyone. (And yes, people have written to me who swear that “their N” has found happiness with the next person. Appearances can be deceiving. Don’t be fooled again.)

I was recently creating a crossword puzzle for my students online and decided to give it the title Shall We Play a Game? I couldn’t remember if I had the phrase right and ended up googling War Games, the 1983 movie, which starred an incredibly young Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. I hadn’t seen the movie since last century, so I fell down the Wikipedia hole. Bear with me because this explains how to beat the narcissist at his/her own game.

In the movie, Professor Falken is an Artificial Intelligence researcher who designed a “Thermonuclear War Game.” The backdoor password is the name of his dead son, Joshua. and the computer identifies itself as “Joshua.” David (Broderick) is the slacker hacker who inadvertently activates the game when Joshua asks, “Shall we play a game?” It soon becomes clear that this is not a game.

The countdown to WW III begins with David and his friend, Jennifer (Sheedy,) frantically trying to locate Professor Falken. Even after he’s found, all seems lost until Falken and David direct “Joshua” to play tic-tac-toe against itself. This results in a long string of ties, forcing the computer to learn the concept of an unwinnable game. Joshua obtains the missile code, but before launching, it cycles through all the nuclear war scenarios it has devised, finding they too all result in stalemates (“WINNER: NONE”). Joshua concludes that nuclear warfare is “a strange game” in which “the only winning move is not to play.” The computer then offers to play “a nice game of chess,” and relinquishes control of NORAD and the missiles averting nuclear disaster. The only way for you to win this game is NOT to play. Game over. Disaster averted. Life goes on. Upbeat music. Closing credits.

Can A Narcissist Love? July 31, 2014

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , ,
hand animals

Look at me! I can be anything you want…until I tire of the game.


Okay, it’s been ages since I’ve posted, but I’ve been recovering from my second TKR which involved a lot of lounging on the couch and reading stacks of books from this new place I’ve discovered called the public library.

I’ve also spent way too much time on the internet. When my husband tried to get us a better phone plan, the guy asked him if he had a teenager in the house. “Someone in your house is downloading a LOT of data!” he announced ominously.  Now I’m worried I might be grounded!

I’ve come across several articles about Narcissism that resonated with me. I’m so over the media blitz equating taking a selfie with being a narcissist. It’s proof that there IS such a thing as bad publicity, as it’s misleading the public about a very real personality disorder – Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

On Huffpost’s The Blog, I came across a great piece by Melissa Schenker, Can A Narcissist Love Me? I love it when I read other people’s writing and find myself impressed with how clearly they identify behaviors, which were once to me almost impossible to describe, let alone fathom.

At the bottom is a link to the book Sweet Relief From the Everyday Narcissist written by Ms. Schenker and Tina Moody available on Amazon. It’s also available via Kindle for $9.99. Hit “Look Inside” and scroll down to the Table of Contents and click on each chapter to read extended excerpts. “Most problems you experience with a narcissist hark back to the fact that in his or her subconscious conception of the world, he does not know that you exist as an individual.” Just reading the excerpts was a fresh breath of air, so I’m putting this on my Must Read list.

The Dark Triad vs. The Dark Tetrad Personality February 12, 2014

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , ,


I first wrote about the Dark Triad of personality traits in 2009 in Why Bad Guys Really Do Get the Most GirlsUnfortunately, the post, which was linked to New Scientist, has since been blocked so that only those with a subscription can view the article in its entirety. Sad face.

Today, I read an article on CNN about how Online Trolls are Internet Sadists.  These are the people who write anonymous provocative comments online crafted to antagonize and upset, and they rate highly in Dark Tetrad personality characteristics.  My first reaction was that someone needed to use Spellcheck.  I’m familiar with The Dark Triad: Narcissism, Machivellianism, and psychopathy. These three traits together form an unchecked malignancy of the human core.  But wait, there’s more! The missing, until now, red-headed stepchild is Sadism. And The Dark Triad + Sadism equals The Dark Tetrad. Shudder.

I urge you to read Everyday Sadism – Throwing Light on the Dark Triad, published by the Association for Psychological Science.  

I’ve written mostly about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which I’ve often referred to as Baby Bear with Anti-Social Behavior being Mama Bear and Big Bad Daddy being Psychopathy. Both Sociopaths and Psychopaths show high levels of narcissism.

The Narcissist who darkened my door made several comments/gestures that in the light of day seem down right sadistic. I think we often think of narcissists as blundering bufoons who go through life like bulls in the china shop unaware of the effect they have on others? It’s like they don’t know any better? Or do they? Food for thought.

Image: This one goes WAY back to Mark, a blogger who went on to write for the blog, The Critical Thinker.  He’s been off my radar for too long.

Narcissistic Game Playing – Part 2 January 6, 2014

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , ,

mindgame Narcissistic Game Playing, which described the Ludic love style, has been one of the most read posts on my blog, as so many with Narcissistic Personality Disorder fall into this category. Last night I came across more information on the Ludus-style love that really resonated with me. Cue fanfare. And so I bring you Part 2! This information comes from a website I’ve tracked to a California Polytechnic State University site. I’ve recopied the description below from the site, which appears to be from a course syllabus/or readings. I could not find any attribution. The original is rife with marginal margins and some spelling errors that just HAD to go. Click cla.calpoly.edu to read about all six love styles.

LUDUS (Self-centered Game Player) “The ideal constructed type of ludic lover is that of a person who “plays” love affairs as he or she plays games or puzzles – to win, to get the greatest rewards for the least cost. A ludic lover hates dependency, either in himself/herself or in others. This type shies away from commitment of any sort (does not like lovers to take him or her for granted). The ludic lover enjoys strategies, and may keep two or three or even four lovers “on the string” at one time. A ludic lover may even create a fictional lover to discourage a real one’s hopes for a permanent relationship. He or she avoids long range plans and is careful not to date the same person often enough to create the illusion of a stable relationship.

A ludic lover would rather find a new sex partner than to work out sexual problems with an old one. And yet, he or she may suddenly show up for a replay, even years later, with birthday flowers, a bottle of a favorite wine, a sentimental Valentine, or a record of a favorite song, and vanish just as suddenly. A ludic lover usually enjoys love affairs, and hence rarely regrets them unless the threat of commitment of dependency becomes too great. Dates with a ludic person are never dull, even though they may not happen with great regularity. He or she is never possessive or jealous. The ludic lover usually has good self concept, and usually is assured of current success in love as well as most other areas.

Unlike a pragmatic lover, a ludic lover never reveals all of himself or herself or demands such revelation by partners. Ludic lovers are not likely to be very sophisticated sexually. As a rule, they have only one sexual routine; if the sex partner is not pleased by the ludic lover’s sexual pattern, then the ludic one simply finds another partner rather than attempting to improve an unsatisfying relationship. If she does not like his sexual behavior, the ludic man moves on to someone who does; if he does not get an erection or bring her to orgasm on his own (with no help from her), the ludic woman looks for a man who will. Sex is self-centered and may be exploitative rather than symbolic of a relationship. A ludic lover does not listen to (or take time for) feedback that suggests commitment, which is “scary.” A ludic lover may not even want to be his or her partner’s best sex partner because that might necessitate commitment or dependency that would be “awful.”

Physical appearance of the partner is less important than other qualities, such as self-sufficiency and lack of demanding behavior to ludic persons.” This description SO nails the Narcissist who darkened my door. Even though “Joe” was a Cerebral Narcissist, he had many women in play (“my girlfriends”) but always kept them at arm’s length. I observed this first hand and it all had a “wheeling and dealing” aspect to it that he enjoyed enormously. Half the time, he couldn’t remember who he’d told what. But then a narcissist can deny he/she ever said anything.

And yes, several friends who’ve recovered from their Close Encounter with a Narcissist reported that the N reappeared out of nowhere via a Christmas email. Holiday trolling is common as the N wants to see if he can drop a line and still get a bite. What was funny was that one N sent out a Christmas email and neglected to hide the names of all the women he was sending it to! Ouch! Image Credit: “Mind Games” clipart from Discoveryeducation.com

I, Narcissist Slayer January 3, 2014

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , ,


Thank you CZBZ at the Narcissistic Continuum for conferring on me the title of Narcissist Slayer. That definitely looks like me on a good hair day. And what’s  that I’m holding – my award or a rocket launcher? I’ll be eagerly awaiting the arrival of my sword. What? No sword included? Can you tell I’m eagerly awaiting the return of Game of Thrones?

I imagine meeting up with the other slayers to share a bracing adult beverage before returning to wield our pens in the fight against this nefarious personality disorder and debunking the myths that surround it.

As is the case with these blogger awards, there are guidelines, or as we say in third grade, multiple-step directions. These are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them
2. Put the award’s logo on your blog
3. Write a blog post and share the blog(s) you have chosen. There are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required.
4. Inform nominees on their site
5. Share one positive thing you took away from your relationship with a narcissist.

First things first. Neither of my parents were narcissists. When I first saw a therapist (himself the adult child of a narcissist), that’s the first thing he asked me. He explained this was because only those who’d been conditioned since childhood could/would put up with narcissistic abuse over the long run. For me, it was all of four months until the D&D – not a long period in the grand scheme of things. But the damage done to my psyche was devastating. So if I wasn’t conditioned by my childhood, what was it that drew me to the flame, even once those red flags were waving?

Looking back, it was the fantasy and belief that this person who was alternately flirting/hurting me could be helped. He needed me. Now that seems narcissistic just to write that, but it’s true. Some have described narcissists as “puppies with rabies.” I’m a dog person and had to be bitten repeatedly to get the message. I learned that ultimately, the only person we can fix is ourself/or how we respond to those events that swirl around us which we call life.

Finally, the best thing of all is that by sharing my own Close Encounter with a Narcissist on my blog (which was very scary at first – I’ve been had!), I’ve met so many amazing people, both women and men, who were looking for information. Their comments, insights, and friendship mean the world to me – and that includes you CZ.

Always, Jan

Comments Welcome August 6, 2013

Posted by alwaysjan in Blogging, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,


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!

Always, Jan

Typeface for Comments is BigHouse. 

My Friend is Married to a Narcissist – To Tell or Not May 12, 2013

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , ,

I had to laugh when I saw this. It’s available through Zazzle.

I’m afraid I’ve been hunkered down in the trenches at school, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted. But, this week a discussion started up about the wisdom of telling a friend that they’re married to a narcissist.

Some of my regular commenters dished up a serving of humble pie and some things to consider before you speak the truth. As someone who’s been known to put both feet in my mouth, I can appreciate their reluctance to say yah or nay before you take this very big step.

When someone is involved with any emotional abuser (whether he/she be a narcissist or not), especially during the Idealization Phase, that adrenaline rush, the feeling that this person is The One, my soulmate, is overpowering. There can be a zillion Red Flags a flyin’, but the person will just put on their rose-tinted glasses, so those Red Flags fade into the background. Any mention of the N’s faults or quirky/odd behaviors will usually be explained away. The person “in love” with the N is telling you what they’ve been told. They want so badly to believe this is real. Even if the situation is clearly dodgy, they’re often convinced that contrary to all that’s happened before, they are the exception to the rule. Their love will cure all. If only.

One commenter last year had a neighbor whose husband fit the bill. There were children involved and she knew this woman’s life was miserable. But what to do? Talk to her face to face?  Leave an article about narcissism in her mailbox?

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t appreciate unsolicited advice, no matter how well intended. Even when someone is telling us the truth, our natural inclination is to become defensive. We perceive the advice as a judgement, an intrusion. How dare someone presume to tell us what’s going on in OUR life! And what do you know about this disorder? Since when are you an authority? I think you might actually be the one with the problem!

I do believe in many cases the person you’re telling already knows that the person they are with is damaged. Something is amiss. But they’ve been living in denial, often because they can think of no alternative or are reliving a dysfunctional childhood dynamic. It might be ugly, but it’s familiar.

So, let’s say you DO tell someone they’ve been sharing their bed with a no-good narcissist. If you think their eyes are going to light up and they’ll say, “OMG, that’s it! That explains so much. Thank you for figuring out what’s wrong with my life. Now, I’m off to call a divorce attorney. Can you watch the kids while I start packing?,” I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.

More likely than not, you’ll be told to mind your own business.”You know your life isn’t so perfect either?” You can expect to be shut out of this person’s life altogether. More likely, they’ll shoot the messenger and bury you in a shallow grave after they delete you as a facebook friend.

Maybe though, you’ve planted a seed? Maybe after your friend/neighbor calms down, they’ll google narcissism? Maybe. But don’t count on it.

I wouldn’t have the same trepidation telling someone new on the scene that a certain someone is bad news. Of course, it helps if you don’t appear to be speaking as the jilted ex. I believe if you speak from a place of honesty and wisdom, it is possible to “warn” someone. Whether that warning will be heeded is anyone’s guess, but at least you tried.

On some level, I believe those who’ve had a Close Encounter with a Narcissist want to spare others the pain. Sometimes it’s for selfish reasons. We really are afraid that the Narcissist will find happiness with someone else, but of course, this is only an illusion. We’ve seen through the Narcissist’s bag of tricks and want to expose them for who they really are/aren’t. I realize it’s natural to want to warn others, but at the same time you want to avoid looking like the crazy one. It’s a fine line to walk.

If you see a child playing on the train tracks and the headlights of an oncoming train, do you hesitate?  In this instance, I do think we have a moral obligation to speak the truth as we know it. The results might not be what we expected, but we at least we were true to ourselves.

If you’re reading this, I’m curious as to whether anyone DID say anything to you. If not, what could someone have said that might have helped? Or maybe nothing anyone said could have changed the course of what was to come next. You had to learn the hard way.


Do Narcissists Know They are Narcissists? November 11, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , ,

“The Scorpion and the Frog” by artist Jake Beckman @akajake.com

Someone recently commented –  it was more of a rant actually. The person said that since Narcissists don’t know what they’re doing, it’s rather “mid-evil” (yes, that was the spelling) to hold them accountable for their actions. They went on to say that being critical of Narcissists should make us take a long look in the mirror at ourselves. How dare we be so judgemental toward those who know no better? To their thinking, this made the victims of a Narcissist no better than the Narcissist themselves. I heartily disagree.

Although I enjoy the dialogue with my readers, the tone of the comment was so confrontational, I felt a sense of relief as I hit the Delete button, (and I can count on one hand the times I’ve done this.)

How ironic that only days later I came across “You Probably Think this Paper’s About You: Narcissist’s Perceptions of their Personality and Reputation,” a peer-reviewed article published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2011 that addresses this very question. Does a Narcissist recognize their own narcissism and how it interferes with their life? FYI: We’re talking Pathological Narcissists here, Malignant Narcissists, or Clinical Narcissists, as the researchers refer to them. These are not your garden variety of narcissists – blowhards who dominate the conversation and enter the room with an implicit “TADA”!)

It took me several days to wade through the paper as it reactivated my PTSD from taking a statistics class. So, if you’re not up for the read, here’s the gist of the article. (To read the research paper in its entirety, hit the above link and then press on the Free PMC Article feature.)

“Lack of insight is believed to be a hallmark of narcissism…” begins the paper. When it comes to Narcissists’ self-insight, there are two competing views.

The Narcissist Ignorance view argues that narcissists, ” lack insight into their personality and reputation and overestimate how positively others see them.” This is akin to “ignorance is bliss.”

The Narcissistic Awareness view, however, finds that narcissists do have insight into their personality and reputation. The researchers predicted that ultimately the Narcissistic Awareness view is correct. (Bold type is mine.) Narcissists tend to recognize some of their own narcissistic traits but are more likely to see these negative qualities in a positive light. They’re masters of spin.

The Narcissistic Awareness model finds that although narcissists are likely to make a positive first impression, even the narcissist realizes that over time others do not view their performance as positive as their own self-perception.

This provides one reason why Narcissists continually seek out new people to impress. They know from experience that as people get to know them, their impression of the N will not be as positive.

“Narcissists’ failure to pursue long-term relationships and friendships may reflect their awareness that only new acquaintances see them in a positive light.”

Ultimately, “Narcissists understand that others do not see them as positively as they see themselves. Second, they understand that their reputation is more positive in a first impression context than among people who know them well. Third, narcissists describe themselves and their reputation as narcissistic.” (But they don’t necessarily view this as a bad thing.)

Narcissists have a degree of self-awareness. It’s just that they don’t/won’t change.

So even if you are clinging to the idea that a Narcissist behaves badly because they don’t know any better, you need to get your head out of your arse. Too many women (in particular) believe they are The One who can help the N see the err of their ways – only to find themselves ultimately cast aside, chastised for daring to think they had anything to offer so someone so great. Think The Scorpion and the Frog.

If you haven’t heard this tale, I’ll make it short. A scorpion asks a frog for a ride across the river. The frog knows the scorpion could sting him, so he declines. The scorpion reassures the frog. After all, if the scorpion stings the frog then they’d both drown. This seems logical, so the frog agrees to ferry the scorpion across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, who cries, “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die?” The scorpion’s reply? “I couldn’t help myself. It’s just my nature.”

Know this about Narcissists. It’s just their nature. Don’t be stung again.

The Psychopath Test – Pass or Fail? September 16, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Okay, I’ll tell you straight off that my personal book shopper told me this book was “all over the place” when she handed it to me on the playground. I tucked it under a stack of fliers to send home, so as not to appear callous and indifferent to my young charges.

The last book she slipped me was Taft 2012, a rolicking fun read. Most of the books she slips me are a bit “off the beam” as my Scottish friend Lesley would say. Author Jon Ronson also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was made into a movie starring George Clooney. I was disappointed with the movie as I expected way more  footage of adorable goats. Alas.

The subtitle of The Psychopath Test is “A Journey Through the Madness Industry.” The quote on the front from The New York Times Book Review calls it, “Engagingly Irreverent.” That’s something I’d like to have on my tombstone only I plan to be scattered. Alas.

The premise of the book is….well, that’s where it all gets a bit complicated.

Here goes. Ronson meets Tony who feigned insanity to avoid prison and ended up at Broadmoor in the UK. Tony has found it’s much harder to get out of the nuthouse than the Big House.

Trying to root out whether Tony is in fact a psychopath, Ronson finds himself meeting with those psychology-hating Scientologists. I admit to a certain bias here as the Church of Scientology bought an entire building where my favorite restaurant used to be and promptly evicted all the tenants. No, me/and he thinks these are strange people indeed though I perked up when I read that L. Ron Hubbard loved Coca-cola.

Armed with Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist, or PCL-R, which was designed by Candadian psychologist Robert Hare, Ronson sets out to meet famous and notorious personages to see if they meet the criteria. Here a check, there a check….you get the picture.

Along the way he meets some incredibly charming and predatory people. We also learn how the DSM-3 walked out of the primordial soup as a 30-something page booklet that evolved into the 943-page bible for the American Psychiatric Association. At the onset, Ronson cracks open the DSM-IV and promptly diagnoses himself with 12 different mental disorders.

We learn how Big Pharma has an interest in new diagnoses as there’s certainly got to be a pill to swallow for THAT disorder. (No surprise there.) And many of those people at the top of the food chain are indeed psychopaths. (Ditto.)

While Ronson did attend one of Robert Hare’s seminars and interviewed him, he’s inserted Hare as an ongoing character throughout the book and I have to admit I wondered how much of this actually happened. I do have a link to Robert Hare’s Site on Psychopathy (Without Conscience) on my blog and sure enough, “Bob” Hare, as Ronson refers to him, offers a disclaimer to the book “On Ronson.”

A book reviewer on Amazon thought the book had all the makings, but….  Oh, here’s a link to The Most Helpful Positive Review and The Most Helpful Negative Review of the book.

After reading the book, this was one thing that stuck in my mind. Two researchers in the early 1990s undertook a detailed study of the long-term recidivism rates of psychopaths who’d been through a program at Oak Ridge run by Elliot Barker in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It involved a hefty dose of LSD and a lot of hugging it out to learn empathy, something both psychopaths and narcissists lack. Barker’s program was viewed by many as proof that psychopaths can indeed change and develop empathy. Some were released.

Now in regular circumstances, 60 percent of incarcerated psychopaths released into the outside world go on to reoffend. So what did the researchers find about those psychopaths who’d been through Barker’s program and “learned” empathy?  A whopping 80 percent went on to reoffend. Ultimately, the psychopaths only became better at feigning empathy/not learning it.

It’s a cautionary tale for those who think that anyone lacking empathy, whether they be a psychopath or a narcissist, can truly change. But those who’ve had A Close Encounter with a Narcissist already know this.

“Both terrifying and hilarious.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 3 September 3, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,




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. (Since I’m officially back at school, summer is SO over for me, so this will be the final episode.)

What Is Narcissistic Supply? 

A Narcissist would rather get a reaction from a total stranger than receive a genuine compliment from someone near and dear. And the more someone “runs” from them, the more they’ve gotta have IT. What is IT? Well, it’s not love as in “Love is the Drug” by Roxy Music. No, IT is new blood to feast on. Okay, that’s sounding a little vampirish, but let’s face it, a Narcissist without supply would shrivel up and die as sure as a vampire on a sunny California day.

Narcissistic Supply is the attention given to the Narcissist from other people, whether it be from you, the cashier in the checkout line, or total strangers. It doesn’t really matter who these people are (though more important people, more desirable people do yield more of a supply high) as long as they mirror back to the Narcissist the image he’s worked so hard to perfect, project, and to protect. A Narcissist will accept positive or negative attention as long as they’re at the center of it.

Meanwhile, a Narcissist is forever on the lookout for new supply, even when they’re supposedly in a “relationship.” Why?  For a narcissist, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. More is always better. You can be at a party with the N yet feel suddenly invisible as the N hones in on a new person to dazzle. Hey, remember me –  the person you came with? Could you at least introduce me?

And oh how a Narcissist loves the chase. When someone new comes into their orbit, someone who has not “succumbed” to their act, they fire up the charm and it’s full speed ahead. But here’s the rub. The minute that someone stops running and expresses real interest in the Narcissist, their days are numbered. The N has no desire for a genuine relationship as that would require (dare I say it?) emotional intimacy. They just need to know that you’re willing to take their calls. They like knowing that  the door is always open  – even just a crack –  because they can get their foot back in for a quick fix when they’re between chase-worthy people.

You have to understand that like children, Narcissists love novelty. Picture a child at a birthday party opening one gift and exclaiming over it only to toss that toy aside to open the next gift. (This is why in NYC when my boys were small, people no longer allowed the birthday boy/girl to open gifts in front of others. It was just too hard to watch.)

If you insist on hanging around, the Narcissist will devalue you and put you (his once new toy) on the shelf. He may take you down from time to time to play with you, but then back on the shelf you go. Or if he’s not a tidy child, he’ll just toss you onto the heap of other toys he’s grown bored with. Now you’ve been demoted to being Secondary Supply. Those in this category still interact with the Narcissist on a regular basis, but that new car smell is gone. They exist to remind the N that he’s already conquered them. Next!

That’s why the N is always on the lookout for the next best thing. Even though you love them, care about them, and would do virtually anything for them, that’s just SO not what turns them on. They’d rather have a total stranger smile at them because they’re sure it’s because that stranger thinks they’re charming, sexy, clever, fill in the blank.

No matter what you do to try and inject excitement or drama into the relationship to return to that Idealization Phase, it’s not gonna happen. The N will be happy to use you, abuse you, and even lose you as often as you’ll allow them to.  You know there’s lots more where you came from!

So here’s the question. Do you really want to be used by someone who views you as “old business?”

Book Review of Mr. Unavailable & the Fallback Girl August 13, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Several months ago some of my readers turned me on to Baggage Reclaim, a great relationship site out of the UK, which you’ll find on my blogroll. I find Natalie Lue’s writing on that site to be crisp, no nonsense, and on the money. She’s also got that Brit wit thing going for her. (Let’s face it – “shag” sounds so much more polite than the American translation.)

Natalie, who recently married and turned 35, spent her 20s as a “Fallback Girl” – accepting crumbs from guys who never seemed to have two feet in the door at the same time unless it was for a shag. Disappearing only to reappear as they knew the door was always open. She also played the part of the Other Woman. It wasn’t until she realized that the common denominator in all of these liaisons was… herself, that things began to click.

Mr. Unavailable & the Fallback Girl was first published as an eBook in 2008. I did not read this edition. The 2nd Edition is available as an eBook/book through Amazon and has been greatly “expanded.” Select bloggers were sent a complimentary eBook to read and review, so I’ve spent the last few sweltering days at my computer reading and taking notes.

Since most people who come to my blog are searching for information on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I want to say straight out that this is NOT a book about narcissism though Natalie does list the DSM’s diagnostic criteria. She fears too many are too eager to embrace this diagnosis as the excuse for why their relationship failed.

She points out that Narcissists are always emotionally unavailable, whereas, Mr. Unavailables are not necessarily narcissistic. And she makes it clear that if you are dealing with a Narcissist, you should not walk, but RUN as they wreak so much havoc in your life. She does provide a lot of information though as to why women seek out and stay with men who are clearly not emotionally available, so this could/would apply to some of you who seem to keep dating the same “type.” (That type being a man who is incapable of committing to a healthy relationship.)

I so wanted to love this book, but I’m afraid I’m only “in like” with it. Here’s why. Between the covers is probably all you need to know if you’re someone who has repeatedly hooked up with a guy who is just not that into you and you’re virtually trying to walk on water to convince him (either overtly or covertly) that you are The One.

But at 370 pages, the book is longer than either of the two Pulitzer Prize-winning novels I’ve read this summer. As I was reading it, I began to feel like I was going in loops. Maybe it was the heat? Reading it on the computer? It was like sitting in a movie and starting to look at your watch. Shouldn’t this have ended by now? Hey, I thought that WAS the ending.

Even the same clever phrases reappeared one too many times. And I found the number of typos annoying. At one point I thought the real Mr. Unavailable was an editor! I hate to sound snarky, but Natalie knows her stuff, so this had the potential to be a virtual bible for those who’ve struggled with creating healthy relationships.

At some point, all the clever monikers, e.g., Floggers, Stonewallers, Lobbyists, Bad Pennies, Dreamers, MIMS (for Miss Independent/Miss Self Sufficient) start to seem like too many people at a noisy party. I felt like I tuned into Game of Thrones mid-season and was confused as to who was who without Peter Dinklage to help me get my bearings. I needed  a flow chart to keep track.

Whenever Natalie returns to her personal narrative, however, the writing immediately becomes more compelling. She knows her stuff and to be sure there is great wisdom in this book, it’s just that sometimes less is more. This is such a case.

Do check out Baggage Reclaim for some of that Brit wit though.

Listening to Your Gut – A Cautionary Tale July 30, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My dear friend in Suffolk texted, “Very interesting article in The Mail on Sunday about a famous novelist and her very strange relationship with a very odd man…it definitely read like he was a Narcissist. I felt like I should write to her and try to explain what she was dealing with.” She added, “She does not mention personality disorders. Quite a famous writer over here.”

So, I read Why did I convince myself that he loved me? by novelist Lesley Lokko and published yesterday in The Mail. Yikes! It’s like watching a horror movie and wanting to yell at the protagonist to, “Get out of the house NOW!” If you’ve had a Close Encounter with a Narcissist you know exactly where the bogeyman is hiding – in plain sight.

It’s a very interesting read indeed in the “He Swept Me Off My Feet” genre. It also shows what happens when you avoid that feeling in your gut that something is not quite right. If you’ve got time on your hands, count the Red Flags.

Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 2 July 15, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,







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.”

When Bloggers Die – A Belated Thank You July 10, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Teachers are frequently reminded that we DO Make a Difference (and I’ve got the mugs to prove it!). But as I write this, it’s not teachers I have in mind. Summer is my time to get organized. I was recently updating links on my blog and going through the myriad of websites I’ve bookmarked over the last five years in reference to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

I’ve referred so many of my readers to Halcyon. So I was surprised to revisit the site and find that a page had been added in 2011 informing readers that its creator, Joanna M. Ashmun, died in 2009. How could I not have known? Halycon is written with style, heart, and professionalism. Joanna’s website (with footnotes, no less!) is so carefully researched that it’s hard to believe she is/was not a mental health professional.

Then I came across another blog I’d bookmarked, Operation Doubles, which I also found extremely helpful back when I was reeling from my close encounter with a narcissist. It was written by a Kathy Krajo, a professional tennis instructor and editor. When I pressed the link, I was referred to The Path Whisperer where I learned that Kathy died in 2008. Say it ain’t so.

While Joanna’s site Halycon still stands and a Facebook memorial site has been set up, Kathy’s blogs have been reprinted on a variety of other sites including Sanctuary for the Abused.  Both Joanna and Kathy were civilians in the trenches –  people who’d encountered more than their share of narcissists and felt a need to inform and warn the rest of us.

I just want to say kudos to two women who illuminated those dark corners of this disorder with their writing. They helped countless people (myself included) and showed how one doesn’t have to have a bunch of letters after one’s name to write coherently and oh so bravely about a subject that was rarely discussed even five years ago. I knew neither woman personally, but through their writing, I felt like I did.

Although I said this wasn’t about teachers, ultimately, that’s what both Joanna and Kathy were – teachers. They shared their experiences and observations so that the rest of us could learn from them. I’m deeply indebted to them. Their legacy is lasting.

Photo Credit: Leadsmall.org

Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 1 July 6, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,






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.

First of all, you might be wondering, ” Are narcissists actually mad men?” I believe that although they would deny that they’re actually “mad” (as in angry, not crazy), their all-encompassing envy of others leads them to be angry, unsettling men/women who spend an inordinate amount of time trying to avoid and deny the inner conflict that rages. Their anger is like a pot put on the back burner left to simmer. It informs their every move.

I thought the above quote was especially appropriate for all my readers who ask:

Is it possible for a narcissist to find happiness with another person? 

Although you want me to say NO, and yes, NO is ultimately the right answer (wow, that was confusing) you must KNOW this. It IS possible for “your N” to find someone who will tolerate their BS  better than you. You’re not the only doormat in town, and they’re happy to wipe their feet on anyone who leaves the door open so they can gain entry.

Dysfunction – oh, let me count the ways! There’s the Meanie/Martyr relationship dynamic, which is self explanatory. Then there’s the Pursuer/Distancer variation where when one partner tries to get close, the other withdraws emotionally, creating a perpetual chase. Another variation is Responsible/Irresponsible, which is akin to a parent-child partnering. All of these exist in couples (narcissistic or not) and are not conducive to a healthy long-term relationship that will meet both partners’ individual needs.

So, although it might appear that a Narcissist has found happiness with another, remember that for the N, “happiness” is only to be found in the dictionary. For somatic narcissists, the new car smell wears off quickly, so they’ll soon be on the prowl. Cerebral Ns will begin to withhold sex leaving their partner feeling confused and abused. Most likely you know what I’m talking about because you’ve been there.

And just in case you’re tempted, there’s no point in warning the new person (though it might seem like the right/righteous thing to do). Don’t. Can you imagine if someone had taken you aside when you were in the throes of the Idealization Phase and told you the emperor had no clothes? You’d have thought they were mad and questioned their motives. You don’t want to come off looking like the crazy one, so bite your tongue. The train wreck is going to happen, so you don’t want to be playing on the tracks.

Ns ultimately live and die alone despite appearances to the contrary. Their life is like a film viewed over and over with the quality of the tape (okay, that reference is SO 20th Century!) degrading with each viewing, so that after years of their antics, the show is barely watchable.

Yes, Narcissists are mad men. But if you believe otherwise, you’re the one who is mad (as in crazy). Peace and Summer Dreaming.

Click here to read Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 2.

Photo Credit: Jan Marshall

Ted Bundy’s Third Grade Teacher May 17, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, who’s 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) and then graduate to having Conduct Disorder (CD). Rhoda, the character from the cult movie The Bad Seed, was so cloyingly sweet and manipulative, she could have evaded that ODD diagnosis altogether. 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 officially 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 mightliy – 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 is often, “Oh, they’re 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. And I’ve also never had a class hamster – just in case.

The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism #6 April 7, 2012

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , ,


I never could have imagined that so many people would read my 3-part series Close Encounter with a Narcissist. Or imagined how many people would leave comments detailing their own often heart-wrenching “close encounters.”

When I check my blog stats (something us bloggers obsessively do), I like to check the “search engine terms” people typed in before they were electronically dropped off at my blog’s doorstep.

In this series, The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism, I’ll use a “search term” I’ve come across as a jumping off point for a discussion. (Please read the Close Encounter with a Narcissist series first, or it’s like walking in after the movie’s started. Shhhh!)  Here goes.

Why do I Miss the Narcissist?

When a Narcissist zeros in on a new source of supply, he (or she) is on their best behavior. The Academy Award-winning performance they give has been perfected by years of being “on stage”  – in the sense that they are literally performing a role in what the rest of us call “life.” They cling to this role and rarely vary from the script. It’s worked before, and it will work again. There’s not a lot of improvisation involved. That First Impression of them is seared into your memory. They can be so endearing or (substitute appropriate adjective).

So a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) can be charming, seductive, endearing, and even appear to be compassionate and caring. But again, this is all an act calculated to disarm their victim’s defenses. Is it conscious? I don’t know. I’m not sure if they even know. But it’s what they do best. It’s how they roll. And it can seem incredibly genuine…at the time.

The article, Narcissists Often Ace Job Interviews, Study Findsilluminates how Narcissists can turn on the charm in any given situation to close the deal. It’s only later that their true colors emerge.

So when the Narcissist tires of Act 1 (Idealization) and goes to Act 2 (Devaluation & Discard aka D&D), the change in their manner towards you can leave you with a wicked case of emotional whiplash. WTF? Why did they say that? Why are they playing games with me? Why would…(fill in the blank)?

Who doesn’t want to cling to that first impression? Or memories of the “good times?” You’d like to think that they could return to being THAT person, not realizing that THAT person was only a ruse.

When I asked my sister-in-law, who was married to a Narcissist for 14 years, when her husband changed, she said (without hesitation) “the day after we married.”

During the Idealization Phase, the Narcissist is anything, no make that EVERYTHING, you want him to be. But then the novelty wears off and real life enters into the equation. The D&D begins.

I can understand those who struggle to get over a Close Encounter with a Narcissist. They want that person back. The person they thought they knew. But time travel is not possible, so there’s NO going back. You have to be able to see the Narcissist for what they were/are  – an imposter.

What makes it even more difficult to recover from such an encounter is the feeling that you’ve been duped – or played. You’re an intelligent person, but now you feel like somebody’s fool. What can I say? Do not expect any apologies or closure. You may understand what happened intellectually while you’re still hurting emotionally. It takes time. And more time. But, you CAN move on and flourish.

It’s a painful scenario, but the curtain falls after Act 3. The show’s over. Are you ready to move on?

Narcissistic Game Playing – Part 1 August 27, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I read that “narcissists employ a Ludic love style,” my eyes almost crossed. But I kept reading.  Ludus  is characterized by game playing, an aversion to partner dependence, attention to extradyadic others and deception.” Whoa, does that sound familiar? Other than the extradyadic part? (And that’s just a fancy word for infidelity.)

I found this in Does Self-Love Lead to Love for Others? A Story of Narcissistic Game Playing published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). One of the goals of the research was to determine whether a person really needs to learn to love themselves before they can love others. Or, as the Greeks believed, is self-love actually an impediment to loving others? The authors sort that one out pretty quickly differentiating between self-love and self-esteem.

What I found most interesting was how those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or high on the narcissistic continuum per the authors) approach a relationship as a game. This explains why narcissists are unable to maintain long-term emotionally intimate relationships. Click on the title link above to read the paper in its entirety. 

When it comes to relationships, narcissists have two birds to kill. First, because they think very highly of themselves, they use relationships to self enhance not caring whether this involves exploiting others. Think of it as feeding the beast. Although the narcissist desires perfection in a partner, in reality their partners (mere humans) are doomed to come up short. This game is not a cooperative game, but one in which the winner takes all.

But here’s the rub. Relationships are good in that they can provide positive attention and sex, BUT they are bad in that they demand emotional intimacy and prevent the narcissist from receiving attention and sex from other partners. If only they could have it both ways… (The feelings of the other person do not factor into the N’s thinking.)

So the narcissist turns on the charm, using all the extraversion and confidence he can muster to reel in a new partner. But “they would be careful to keep this relationship from becoming too intimate or emotionally close lest they lose control. Finally, narcissists would covertly seek out other potential romantic partners.” So it should come as surprise that the narcissist lacks a sense of real commitment to a relationship and is always on the lookout for an alternative, frequently flirting with others.

In this way, the narcissist maintains power in the relationship and a certain amount of freedom. If things go sour in the relationship, he’s already got his eye on his next target.

“Narcissists’ self-regulatory blueprint involves bringing people in and extracting esteem from them. If that entails being, in turn, charming, exciting, deceptive, controlling, or nasty, so be it.”

Those who’d been in a relationship with a narcissist reported that it took “longer to gain insight into the narcissist’s personality, and this impression changed over the course of the relationship. Although it is not evidence of game playing per se, this suggests that narcissists used deceptive self-presentation in the relationship.”

“A game-playing approach to relationships, as evidenced by maintaining alternative partners or keeping one’s partner uncertain about one’s commitment, gives the same game-playing partner power. This interpersonal strategy has been termed the principle of least interest. The individual less interested in the relationship has the most power. If narcissists seek power and freedom in their dating relationships, the adoption of a game-playing love style should give them this power and freedom.”

Finally, by adopting the Ludic, or game-playing approach to love, the narcissist is able to get what he wants without having to give up what he doesn’t. For the N, that’s a win-win situation. If you think otherwise, you’re just a sore loser!

Read Narcissistic Game Playing – Part 2.

Image Credit: “Mind Games” clipart from Discoveryeducation.com


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 376 other followers