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Narcissists Are Mad Men – Episode 1 July 6, 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.

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

Narcissistic Game Playing – Part 1 August 27, 2011

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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mindgame

 

 

 

 

 

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