Personality Cafe banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,843 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Michael Trust, an evolutionary biologist, freelance political writer and author of the 2014 book "How To Deal With Narcissists", has written an account focusing on a Narcissist who he knew intimately in both his childhood years and in his adult life. This article examines the Narcissist's past and utilizes his acquired knowledge of the human brain's operations to explain how Narcs become the damaged people they are. I share it with Personality Cafe because I know many people will find this fascinating:

When I was younger, an individual with a profound personality disorder lived with my family for a time. I will refer to him by the pseudonym "Bob". He would be best described as an extreme Narcissist; among personality disorders there is variation in severity. Suffice it to say, he was one weird dude.

Throughout my youth, time and again, I found myself encountering odd behavior from Bob. It seemed off, in that I could not picture why one would behave in such a manner. I would dismiss it, and him, by saying, “He’s just weird.” But I ended up with a whole library of memories in my head, of things about him which just didn’t fit. There they sat, a childhood puzzle I had failed to solve, but which I hung on to because of its bizarre curiosity.

I ended up dealing with him again later in life for an extended period, when suddenly it hit me: He had real psychological problems, and saw an entirely different world than I did. Suddenly, all of the odd memories in my head, all of the information about his past which he and his family had divulged, everything about him fell into place, and fit perfectly into one neatly organized, logical psychology. I could see why he did the things he did, and even how he saw and felt the world.

My memories of Bob could fill multiple volumes, but I want to discuss one aspect of his life here briefly: The first time I realized he had real problems was the day after he did something weird right in front of me. The next day I asked him why he did it, and he looked at me confused. He said: “I never did that! Not only didn’t I do that…. I would never do that!” His voice rose to a crescendo, his arms waved in the air, and his insistence, combined with the genuinely confused look on his face, made me think he literally didn’t remember doing something very memorable the day before.

Inside, I recoiled. What was this? He knew I was standing right next to him when he did it. Did he have some sort of multiple personality disorder? Did a personality named “Bob” do what I saw him do in front of me yesterday, but today “Bill” was in control of his mind, and didn’t know about any of it?

This was my introduction to the concept of the “False Reality.” Narcissists inhabit what is called a false reality. In this false reality, they are as near to perfect as a human being could possibly be. Of course this false reality diverges from real reality, where they often will fail at even the simplest of relationships – and most who know them well view them as, for lack of better words, "damaged", "crazy", or even "evil".

In Bob’s case, his brain believed what it wanted to, regardless of reality. If something bad happened to him, his brain created a false reality where it didn’t happen, planted it in his memory, causing him to believe it was real. How did this arise? It is tough to say for sure, but I assume it began in his childhood. He had a number of unfortunate events in his childhood, and this seems to be the one that yields the most sufficient insight:

When Bob was nine years old, he ended up in a physically restrictive orthopedic device. He could only ambulate by hobbling, and his arms were restricted from free movement as well. He still had to attend school however, and the other children quickly discovered they enjoyed surrounding him at recess and torturing him. He had always been a bully, but now the worm had turned, and the other children were bullying him.

As Bob hobbled around to try and fend off the surrounding mob, those to whom his back was turned would zoom in quick, kick him, and then run out before he could hobble around to face them. Just as he got turned around, the kids on the other side would take their shots, and the game would continue throughout recess. Bob turning to protect himself, only to open himself up to new attacks from another quarter. My assumption has always been that those in authority did not stop it because they had seen him torture kids before, and felt now he would learn his lesson.

I am sure after the first week, each morning of school was spent with all of the kids laughing and hitting each other in class, in eager anticipation of the wonderful game at recess which awaited. Making things worse, as an adult, Bob would actually get so angry at times that he would stomp his feet, make a sort of growling, “OOOUUUURRRRRHHHHH!” noise, and turn in circles, while holding his arms bent so his fists were in front of him. I am sure that when he was a kid, after a half hour of being kicked and being unable to stop it, he would erupt like that, parading around in a growling, stomping rage, probably to the great amusement of the crowd, who would break out laughing, and only intensify their attacks in the future to produce this spectacle.

I don’t know how long he was in the restrictive device but it was long enough that his brain eventually began exhibiting some sort of extreme dysfunction in response to the teasing. After the torture, his visual field would become distorted, prismatic, and almost hallucinatory. Within an hour of the visual symptoms, he would be in the nurse’s office vomiting profusely and would have to go home sick. I assumed he was experiencing something akin to a seizure, but in a part of the brain unassociated with muscular movement. Clearly, the torture was burning new neurological pathways in his brain which were not conductive to normal love and trust of others, or even happiness. And with each new stimulation, these neural pathways and the Hebbian Synapses connecting them grew stronger, and their effects became more powerful.

In short, Bob’s brain was conditioned by the torture. Each agonizing moment of adversity triggered negative sensations. Each negative sensation strengthened the structures which produced them, like a muscle being used repetitively to move a weight. As adversity after adversity piled upon one another, his brain developed in such a way as to produce an overwhelming “bad” feeling, to the point that it would destroy his ability to see, and make him physically vomit.

If his adult self was any indication, this strengthening of these pathways also entailed an enhanced sensitivity to such negative stimuli as had produced the effect. The slightest criticism would freak him out. He would become overwhelmed with a negative, panicky, aversive stimuli, which would quickly turn to rage, combined with a desperation to make everyone agree on the criticism’s falsity. If he could bully everyone into agreeing with him, or even just abandoning the argument, he would noticeably relax, as if he felt his false reality reinforced and his amygdala assuaged.

Which leads us to the origin of Bob’s adaptive mechanism, the false reality. My assumption is, when Bob returned home after a day of being tortured, he had a horrible reality to confront. The next day, he was going to find himself confined within a restrictive device again, and tossed right back into a hostile environment. If his brain contemplated this as the future reality he faced, if he imagined what awaited him tomorrow, he would be so overwrought, he could lose his vision, and begin to vomit. His amygdala would fire off, and his whole body would be filled with terror.

Bob had, probably through much mental exercise in search of relief, developed a neurological workaround, bypassing the amygdala by developing the ability to change what his brain saw as reality. Under this stress, Bob’s brain eventually discovered how to actually control what his brain acknowledged as reality.


As a result, what happened didn’t happen, if it’s having happened would stimulate his amygdala. What would happen wasn’t going to happen, so his amygdala wouldn’t fire off. He was happy, and nothing bad could befall him. “Tortured? He wasn’t tortured. Moreover, he would never be tortured!”

Suddenly, the aversive stimuli retreated. Every time his brain correctly perceived reality, it was shocked by the amygdala. Every time he denied reality, his amygdala’s psychic pain abated, and he was rewarded with normalcy. His brain quickly trained itself. His face still carried a perpetual grimace beneath every emotion, but he could function, at least temporarily.

Most people seek to assuage their amygdala through modifying the reality around them. You’re going to lose your job unless you complete a report by tomorrow? Your amygdala will fire off, and you will feel panic, at least until you take measures to prevent the outcome which triggers your amygdala, by beginning work upon your report. In Bob's case, his actual reality was unalterable, so he could not take a physical measure in the real world to shut off his amygdala. This left his mind one last option to shut off his amygdala. Learn to alter his perception of reality, and bypass the amygdala, or face an excruciating agony he could not possibly endure.

Unfortunately, once that workaround existed, it would become easy to alleviate any uncomfortable reality by ignoring it, and with time his brain trained itself to do just that. Like a dog corrected with a snap of it’s choke for each deviation from trained behavior, his amygdala snapped his mind each time he began to honestly assess the reality around him, and he was conditioned to avoid that. As an adult, he assiduously denied the existence of anything troubling about himself, and even had the ability to create new impressions of reality in his mind, to bolster his belief in his own superiority and greatness.

The rest of his family wouldn’t talk to him because he was caught screwing them over? That’s ridiculous. He didn’t screw them – moreover he would never screw them! They were bad people who had wronged him, and they were just angry he wasn’t letting them continue to wrong him.

In short, Bob had developed the ability to turn off the one structure which attaches us to reality. He had turned off the one structure which allows us to avoid bad consequences, by making us experience them prior to our actions inflicting them upon us. The one structure which gives us a chance to avoid bad consequences entirely by changing the behaviors which produce them, before they produce them.

I highlight this case to show a mechanism, however exaggerated, by which individuals can rewire their brains to bypass such a vital structure as the amygdala, and what some of the neurological and psychological motivations of doing so are. I suspect this effect will be engendered primarily among the very young, whose brains are more plastic, and malleable.

An addendum:

There may be those who will view Bob as solely a victim, and maybe even attempt to excuse what he became. In response to this: it should be emphasized that his peers torture of him was in retaliation for his highly antisocial behavior towards them, as well as his family. There was always a desire to hurt others inside him, and this behavior is likely why he was targeted by the mob so aggressively. Have no illusions, he was a bad seed from the start.

Indeed, multiple members of Bob’s family have postulated that, had he not been imbued with a very deeply seated fear of the mob turning upon him, through his childhood torture, he could easily have become a serial killer. An instinctual, illogical, ardent hatred triggered by innocent, happy women was a constant aspect of his personality which he spent his life concealing, but which nevertheless bubbled to the surface on occasion.

Given Bob’s case, and how often the bullied become bullies themselves, I am prone to believe that bullying may often find itself focused upon those who do not innately constrain their behavior into socially beneficial norms by themselves. Several innocent young women may have grown up and enjoyed happy, fulfilling lives, because of specific neurological pathways laid down in Bob's brain by childhood peers who saw what he was instinctively, which caused him to restrain his behavior in adulthood.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,365 Posts
I would love to see some clinical studies to confirm his hypothesis. There are plenty of narcissists out there who might be willing to take part in the test. Like Sam Vaknin for example.

Personally I disagree with two points he brings up.

First the assertion that those bullied tend to become bullies is false. If that was the case and if we extended bullying to even include the more terrible crimes of abuse whether physical or psychological and emotional we will find that we all would then end up like that and society at this point would have been filled with a majority of terrible human beings.

Secondly he seems to be coming from a nurture argument. That is to say that narcissists are made not born. I have a lot of experience with narcissistic individuals. From close family members and naturally since I tend to lean more towards a more emotionally sensitive temperament that is susceptible to abuse from close personal relationships.

I've known 2 narcs for over two decades. One is covert and can be quite the good natured individual and the other is more overt where a slight misstep in communication causes them to attack to protect their false self. Their behavior if in anyway connected to their past would not make sense to some degree. Also they both had paternal figures in their lives that for the most part seemed to exhibit narcissistic behavior as well.

I find through my experiences, narcs are made through their understanding of human behavior from an early age and them not being confronted with corrective measures from their paternal figures. I know in both cases they had either neglectful in one case or both neglectful and abusive in another. Yet they both come from families and had siblings around their age that did not end up being narcissists who were subjected to the same conditions. So my perception so far has been that their has to be some sort of genetic inclination in there as well to give them a propensity to become the way they are.

Apart from that though his description is a very accurate telling of narc behavior. They will literally deny things to their death bed if it makes them look bad in any way. Forget them showing regret, contemplating mistakes or even actually apologizing for anything in their life.

Though he brings up an interesting concept. I was actually looking into the reverse of this and was researching it for a while so much so that I'm considering taking up a tough subject like neuroscience just to give me the tools necessary to find the answer.

I was trying to figure out what made empaths and why naturally more empathetic people seem to suffer more emotional pain on average. I came to the same answer he did. That the amygdala is the cause and it could be that an over active and over sensitive amygdala is the cause for high amounts of empathy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,699 Posts
I would love to see some clinical studies to confirm his hypothesis. There are plenty of narcissists out there who might be willing to take part in the test. Like Sam Vaknin for example.

Personally I disagree with two points he brings up.

First the assertion that those bullied tend to become bullies is false. If that was the case and if we extended bullying to even include the more terrible crimes of abuse whether physical or psychological and emotional we will find that we all would then end up like that and society at this point would have been filled with a majority of terrible human beings.

Secondly he seems to be coming from a nurture argument. That is to say that narcissists are made not born. I have a lot of experience with narcissistic individuals. From close family members and naturally since I tend to lean more towards a more emotionally sensitive temperament that is susceptible to abuse from close personal relationships.

I've known 2 narcs for over two decades. One is covert and can be quite the good natured individual and the other is more overt where a slight misstep in communication causes them to attack to protect their false self. Their behavior if in anyway connected to their past would not make sense to some degree. Also they both had paternal figures in their lives that for the most part seemed to exhibit narcissistic behavior as well.

I find through my experiences, narcs are made through their understanding of human behavior from an early age and them not being confronted with corrective measures from their paternal figures. I know in both cases they had either neglectful in one case or both neglectful and abusive in another. Yet they both come from families and had siblings around their age that did not end up being narcissists who were subjected to the same conditions. So my perception so far has been that their has to be some sort of genetic inclination in there as well to give them a propensity to become the way they are.

Apart from that though his description is a very accurate telling of narc behavior. They will literally deny things to their death bed if it makes them look bad in any way. Forget them showing regret, contemplating mistakes or even actually apologizing for anything in their life.

Though he brings up an interesting concept. I was actually looking into the reverse of this and was researching it for a while so much so that I'm considering taking up a tough subject like neuroscience just to give me the tools necessary to find the answer.

I was trying to figure out what made empaths and why naturally more empathetic people seem to suffer more emotional pain on average. I came to the same answer he did. That the amygdala is the cause and it could be that an over active and over sensitive amygdala is the cause for high amounts of empathy.
Have the condition, Nope we don’t deny stuff to our death bed were more likely to not fully take into consideration that we did something wrong and find it easier to assume blame with others. Narcisst come in 2 flavors, cerebral and somatic. Cerebral narcisst often type INTJ, ENTJ or ENTP. Somatic are often ESTP or ESTJ.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,365 Posts
Have the condition, Nope we don’t deny stuff to our death bed were more likely to not fully take into consideration that we did something wrong and find it easier to assume blame with others. Narcisst come in 2 flavors, cerebral and somatic. Cerebral narcisst often type INTJ, ENTJ or ENTP. Somatic are often ESTP or ESTJ.
Well of course diverting blame is the first course of action taken. But gaslighting is a very prevalent and pervasive character trait of narcs.

Heres the order of operations. First its denial, then its refusal to take on the blame, then its projection.
Which eventually leads into reverse gaslighting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chesire Tower

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,699 Posts
Well of course diverting blame is the first course of action taken. But gaslighting is a very prevalent and pervasive character trait of narcs.

Heres the order of operations. First its denial, then its refusal to take on the blame, then its projection.
Which eventually leads into reverse gaslighting.
sometimes.your forgetting that Male INF personalities blow things out of proportion though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,699 Posts
@Crimson Ash narcisst motivated by acclaim to do well by people=not a bad person, narcissist motivated and compelled by greed or own self acclaim=bad person indeed. Take for instance a lot of doctors tend to be both NPD and obsessive compulsive personality disorder that focus on perfection to the benefit of their patient.the same argument is viable for sociopaths and psychopaths. They tend to be excellent first responders that operate in the absensce of fear.ever see suicide squad? Joker in it a tonic ally is the good guy, while Batman is the bad guy. Joker goes out of his way to protect Harley Quinn and rescue her, where Batman ruins people’s happiness.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,843 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Personally I disagree with two points he brings up.

First the assertion that those bullied tend to become bullies is false. If that was the case and if we extended bullying to even include the more terrible crimes of abuse whether physical or psychological and emotional we will find that we all would then end up like that and society at this point would have been filled with a majority of terrible human beings.

Secondly he seems to be coming from a nurture argument. That is to say that narcissists are made not born. I have a lot of experience with narcissistic individuals. From close family members and naturally since I tend to lean more towards a more emotionally sensitive temperament that is susceptible to abuse from close personal relationships.

I was trying to figure out what made empaths and why naturally more empathetic people seem to suffer more emotional pain on average. I came to the same answer he did. That the amygdala is the cause and it could be that an over active and over sensitive amygdala is the cause for high amounts of empathy.
Thanks for the comment.

Trust's assertion is that the bullied often become bullies themselves, which is different than saying it's what tends to happen. That would imply it happens in a majority of instances. He leaves open the possibility that many people who are bullied respond with nobility and vow not to become like the people who hurt them.

There is both nature and nurture in the origins of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Trust would show no disagreement with you there, hence his statement that "Bob The Narcissist was a bad seed from the start", even before being subjected to daily childhood torture.

Sam Vaknin, from what I've read of him, is a fascinating individual, BTW. I don't know what kind of freak switch was hit in his brain to produce a narcissist who is fully aware of how bad his condition is, and is candid about it, but we are the beneficiaries of his writing.
 

·
Plague Doctor
Joined
·
5,927 Posts
@Crimson Ash

You might be interested in the book The Psychopath Inside, about a neurologist who finds out he has a psychopathic brain. It goes into different components that are paralleled in this story. When I read it, I did notice that the narrator (the neurologist) had a somewhat irritating "know it all" voice, though.

Also, <3 your new icon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,035 Posts
@Crimson Ash narcisst motivated by acclaim to do well by people=not a bad person, narcissist motivated and compelled by greed or own self acclaim=bad person indeed. Take for instance a lot of doctors tend to be both NPD and obsessive compulsive personality disorder that focus on perfection to the benefit of their patient.the same argument is viable for sociopaths and psychopaths. They tend to be excellent first responders that operate in the absensce of fear.ever see suicide squad? Joker in it a tonic ally is the good guy, while Batman is the bad guy. Joker goes out of his way to protect Harley Quinn and rescue her, where Batman ruins people’s happiness.
In general, I agree, but, that last part, the Joker must include you AS SELF to protect you, an intimate bond, which is STILL SELFISH. This truth becomes apparent ONLY when the included excludes itself with betrayal or something that the person just cannot merge the two parties with. Ergo, the action IS NOT and NEVER WILL BE precisely good by any objective standard.

And Batman reduces other's happiness is incoherent as a remark. He does fail primarily by acceding to order as a goal above the goal of good. But the disturbed happiness of ANYONE is often a good thing objectively as their motivations DESERVE to be made unhappy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,699 Posts
In general, I agree, but, that last part, the Joker must include you AS SELF to protect you, an intimate bond, which is STILL SELFISH. This truth becomes apparent ONLY when the included excludes itself with betrayal or something that the person just cannot merge the two parties with. Ergo, the action IS NOT and NEVER WILL BE precisely good by any objective standard.

And Batman reduces other's happiness is incoherent as a remark. He does fail primarily by acceding to order as a goal above the goal of good. But the disturbed happiness of ANYONE is often a good thing objectively as their motivations DESERVE to be made unhappy.
I’ve seen every batman movie including the show, he goes out of his way to cause problems for others that is in no way OBJECTiVELY proper to behave. He takes it as his moral adjudicated gumption to overcompensate for the trauma he suffered as a child, thus perpetuating problems for others. There’s no way that’s remotely mentally healthy, if you were to functionally psychoanalyze Harley Quinn, Batman and joker it’s easy to assume they are all personality disordered insidividuals. Joker=NPD hq= borderline with avoidant tendencies Batman= 100% avoidant no doubt. Even Batman’s relationship with robin who later becomes nightwing is arguebably the basis for codependency. When 2 people functionally rely on each other to that degree, there’s no way that’s healthy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,035 Posts
I’ve seen every batman movie including the show, he goes out of his way to cause problems for others that is in no way OBJECTiVELY proper to behave. He takes it as his moral adjudicated gumption to overcompensate for the trauma he suffered as a child, thus perpetuating problems for others. There’s no way that’s remotely mentally healthy, if you were to functionally psychoanalyze Harley Quinn, Batman and joker it’s easy to assume they are all personality disordered insidividuals. Joker=NPD hq= borderline with avoidant tendencies Batman= 100% avoidant no doubt. Even Batman’s relationship with robin who later becomes nightwing is arguebably the basis for codependency. When 2 people functionally rely on each other to that degree, there’s no way that’s healthy.
Agreed that Batman has issues. Not sure I agree that codependency is one of them. Robin in the mags has never stuck me as too important to Batman. MAYBE ... the other way around, which Nightwing did suffer from for a bit. Batman seemed mostly, especially initially, and from time to time as they brought it up again, to be suffering his partnership with Robin as a distraction/weakness. Granted I have not read all the books, but early on, quite a few of them and many different titles. The later Batman's, the new age Batman's, ARE NOT Batman at all (to me).

I do think (as mentioned) that Batman is less good than he is orderly. That is ... not ... ultimately good. But the perversity of this aim is not as damaging and entitled as say Superman's hierarchical delusions. Batman is more apt to beat cop justice/injustice than he is to juris prudence or idealized rule of law issues.

Most of the heroic idealists have to question Batman at some point. He is too comfortable with brutal tactics and seems to lack empathy and forgiveness. The whole image is often a little too thuggish/street. Again that is even more the case with the newer, more 'cool' Batman versions. The older, real Batman (to me) was a little more heroic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,699 Posts
Agreed that Batman has issues. Not sure I agree that codependency is one of them. Robin in the mags has never stuck me as too important to Batman. MAYBE ... the other way around, which Nightwing did suffer from for a bit. Batman seemed mostly, especially initially, and from time to time as they brought it up again, to be suffering his partnership with Robin as a distraction/weakness. Granted I have not read all the books, but early on, quite a few of them and many different titles. The later Batman's, the new age Batman's, ARE NOT Batman at all (to me).

I do think (as mentioned) that Batman is less good than he is orderly. That is ... not ... ultimately good. But the perversity of this aim is not as damaging and entitled as say Superman's hierarchical delusions. Batman is more apt to beat cop justice/injustice than he is to juris prudence or idealized rule of law issues.

Most of the heroic idealists have to question Batman at some point. He is too comfortable with brutal tactics and seems to lack empathy and forgiveness. The whole image is often a little too thuggish/street. Again that is even more the case with the newer, more 'cool' Batman versions. The older, real Batman (to me) was a little more heroic.
No, trust me I get it. Superman’s plot line doesn’t fully develop as to why lex Luther and him are meant to be functionally enemies, however Luther is a ENTJ and they routinely rub people wrong. I can completely understand jokers POV though, he’s upset because Batman locked him in Arkham against his will. Because he’s annoyed with that, he takes his frustration out on Harly Quinn which in turn idealizes him and the guy wants very much to be left alone because he feels stigmatized by Batman and to throw on top of that she has a tendency to not respect his space and finds her self in bad scenarios. If I was joker, I’d be annoyed to. But yeah, your right Hollywood has a done a great job deviating from the story line.
 
  • Like
Reactions: series0

·
Lotus Jester
Joined
·
8,877 Posts
Thanks for the comment.

Trust's assertion is that the bullied often become bullies themselves, which is different than saying it's what tends to happen. That would imply it happens in a majority of instances. He leaves open the possibility that many people who are bullied respond with nobility and vow not to become like the people who hurt them.

There is both nature and nurture in the origins of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Trust would show no disagreement with you there, hence his statement that "Bob The Narcissist was a bad seed from the start", even before being subjected to daily childhood torture.

Sam Vaknin, from what I've read of him, is a fascinating individual, BTW. I don't know what kind of freak switch was hit in his brain to produce a narcissist who is fully aware of how bad his condition is, and is candid about it, but we are the beneficiaries of his writing.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,442 Posts
Michael Trust, an evolutionary biologist, freelance political writer and author of the 2014 book "How To Deal With Narcissists", has written an account focusing on a Narcissist who he knew intimately in both his childhood years and in his adult life. This article examines the Narcissist's past and utilizes his acquired knowledge of the human brain's operations to explain how Narcs become the damaged people they are. I share it with Personality Cafe because I know many people will find this fascinating:

In the past ~2yr I came to realize that my dad has a narcissistic personality disorder... I always thought of him as neurotic, but not narcissistic, because he doesn't come across as particularly vain or boastful as a stereotypical narcissist would (though on reflection he is extremely boastful of his own intelligent, in his mind he's a genius and everyone else is an idiot) ..arrogant, yes that's obvious, but a narcissistic, wasn't obvious to me until I read Kohut.

I was actually concerned I might be a bit narcissistic myself ...I have ambitions that boarder on delusional, and feel that maybe they're narcissistic delusions of grandeur that are out of touch with reality... maybe there is some narcisitc aspects to it, but I think it's maybe minor or something other than traditional narcissism... but reading Kohut, it became very apparent that my Dad was actually a narcissist.

My dad always thought of me not as an individual with my own opinions, feelings, desires, but just as a self object. Growing up he always forced me to have hobbies that he wanted me to have, play violin, play baseball and basketball, and would want me to not have any social life and spend all my time studying, and didn't let me play instruments I wanted to (guitar, saxophone) play sports I wanted to ( soccer, football, hockey).. and the thing is he would gas light me. I hated playing the sports and instruments he made me play, and would beg constantly to play the sports I wanted to play... and he wouldn't let me... but not just that, be delusionally deny it and tell me that I wanted to play the thing he was making me do and tell me that I was happy.

He would tell me all the time how I had asked to play violin when I was ~4 yrs old ( something I never remember happening, probably didn't happen, but which he used as an excuse to claim that I was the one who wanted to play violin and wouldn't let me quit). The excuse that would get used for why I couldn't play hockey or football was always that the equipment was too expensive, which was clearly bullshit because they were spending money on violin lessons that I didn't want that I kept asking to quit. And then they would later deny that I even asked to play hockey or football or to quit violin. The best example of this is in 6th grade, I asked to not be signed up for basketball and so my Dad went and signed up as a coach so that way I couldn't quit, delusion ally gas lighting and blocking my plan to quit. I had to then hurt my wrist in the spring and use that as an excuse to get out playing basketball. I was miserable through a lot of my childhood, from middle school and high school I was depressed and suicidal, I didn't have any hobbies, because I managed to quit the things my parents were making me do, but didn't manage to take up any of the hobbies I had wanted.


To clarify a little, it was difficult for me to express the hobbies I wanted, not only because my parents were never concerned for my feelings or desires, always gas lighting them, but also because I did want to play sports and play an instrument, and it was always presented as well either I play these sports and this instrument, or I won't be allowed to play any. Any time I expressed I didn't want to play baseball they would take that as expression that I didn't want to play any sports and use that against allowing me to play hockey.. and so they would force me into agreeing to play baseball, basketball and violin because otherwise I wouldn't be allowed to play sports or music. I did manage to quit everything, but by that point I was depressed and antisocial and suicidal and didn't have any motivation to have any hobbies.

And I got constantly told by my dad how happy I was and any disagreement and sharing of my feelings would cause a narcissistic rage were he would deny that I felt as I did. If I ever expressed that I was unhappy I was always yelled at. It's really bizarre and neurotic being told by someone else that you're happy, and my dad does that constantly.

There's also other signs like he's also a hypochondriac, and he has a lot of neurotic behavior, like weirdly boasting about how smart he is and dumb everyone else is, and going into a narcissistic rage when people have different tastes in music or tv or food or stuff like that. ...there's a lot more to it, but you get the idea.


Anyway, my post is not just to share some of my experiences, but to also share that Kohut's theory of where narcism comes from seemed somewhat different than what was shown in the OP.

Kohut was very difficult to read, so I'm not sure if I understood and interpreted his ideas accurately.. but it seemed to me like he was saying that where narcissism comes from is when development of the superego gets arrested. So like when a baby is born their concept of their self isn't really there it needs to develop. And their mother for example and themself might be seen as a single object that will have to be differentiated. When the baby is hungry it cries by instinct and is supplied w/ a breast to feed, the crying is an instinct and is automatically met w/ the breast, so it's not obvious to the baby where the baby ends and the mother begins... that such distinctions need to be developed... and when we get older other aspects like possessions, clothing, activities, other stuff similarly to how a baby and a breast may be seen by the baby as part of the self.. other aspects that gets associated w/ identity become part of one's image of the self.... the ego is the picture of one's self. The superego is the picture of the ideal self that that someone wishes to be. The superego is usually shaped largely by parents (also tv shows and teachers, and anything else culturally, environmentally that shows them how they should be)...I think when kids are ~2,3 yrs old and mimicking their parents they are developing their super ego... after the super-ego is developed the child then needs to separate their super-ego from their ego and develop an ego, that satisfies their desire to be like their super ego... but which is reflective of reality and their weaknesses, flaws, etc. that is not up to par w/ their super ego. What happens w/ narcissists, is this doesn't happen, because they never to develop an ego, that satisfies enough their desire to be like their super ego, and so they instead only identify with their super-ego their ideal of how they're like to be, and not any ego of how they actually see themselves, because they never develop an ego. Kohut is really hard to read because he doesn't come out and say this in his writing... instead he talks about how he thinks narcissists should be dealt w/ which seems to be by helping them get involved in some activity, relationship, roles, etc. that satisfy aspects of their super-ego and thereby help them to be able and willing to develop and identify with an ego that is in line with reality.

So from reading kohut, it feels to me that there's a key time in a child's development when there is potential for developing narcism, basically, when the kid is developed an ego/identity that is in line w/ reality.. I don't know exactly what age it tends to happen, but I think when a kid is 2-4 they are developing their super-ego (and it continues to develop) but then (I would guess ages 5-8) they develop an self identity/ ego. With the description of Bob w/ his injury , I don't think you gave an age. Unless he was like 5-7 when it happened.. I would guess that he was already a narcissist before that injury happened... that injury and being teased may have contributed to and solidified it, but I would guess how his parents treated him when he was young 3-7 yrs old would be more the seeds for forming a narcissistic personality disorder.

When I look at my dad, there's nothing traumatic or obvious that would seems would have caused narcism, except that his parents, dad in particular, seemed rather neurotic as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,365 Posts
In the past ~2yr I came to realize that my dad has a narcissistic personality disorder... I always thought of him as neurotic, but not narcissistic, because he doesn't come across as particularly vain or boastful as a stereotypical narcissist would (though on reflection he is extremely boastful of his own intelligent, in his mind he's a genius and everyone else is an idiot) ..arrogant, yes that's obvious, but a narcissistic, wasn't obvious to me until I read Kohut.

I was actually concerned I might be a bit narcissistic myself ...I have ambitions that boarder on delusional, and feel that maybe they're narcissistic delusions of grandeur that are out of touch with reality... maybe there is some narcisitc aspects to it, but I think it's maybe minor or something other than traditional narcissism... but reading Kohut, it became very apparent that my Dad was actually a narcissist.

My dad always thought of me not as an individual with my own opinions, feelings, desires, but just as a self object. Growing up he always forced me to have hobbies that he wanted me to have, play violin, play baseball and basketball, and would want me to not have any social life and spend all my time studying, and didn't let me play instruments I wanted to (guitar, saxophone) play sports I wanted to ( soccer, football, hockey).. and the thing is he would gas light me. I hated playing the sports and instruments he made me play, and would beg constantly to play the sports I wanted to play... and he wouldn't let me... but not just that, be delusionally deny it and tell me that I wanted to play the thing he was making me do and tell me that I was happy.

He would tell me all the time how I had asked to play violin when I was ~4 yrs old ( something I never remember happening, probably didn't happen, but which he used as an excuse to claim that I was the one who wanted to play violin and wouldn't let me quit). The excuse that would get used for why I couldn't play hockey or football was always that the equipment was too expensive, which was clearly bullshit because they were spending money on violin lessons that I didn't want that I kept asking to quit. And then they would later deny that I even asked to play hockey or football or to quit violin. The best example of this is in 6th grade, I asked to not be signed up for basketball and so my Dad went and signed up as a coach so that way I couldn't quit, delusion ally gas lighting and blocking my plan to quit. I had to then hurt my wrist in the spring and use that as an excuse to get out playing basketball. I was miserable through a lot of my childhood, from middle school and high school I was depressed and suicidal, I didn't have any hobbies, because I managed to quit the things my parents were making me do, but didn't manage to take up any of the hobbies I had wanted.


To clarify a little, it was difficult for me to express the hobbies I wanted, not only because my parents were never concerned for my feelings or desires, always gas lighting them, but also because I did want to play sports and play an instrument, and it was always presented as well either I play these sports and this instrument, or I won't be allowed to play any. Any time I expressed I didn't want to play baseball they would take that as expression that I didn't want to play any sports and use that against allowing me to play hockey.. and so they would force me into agreeing to play baseball, basketball and violin because otherwise I wouldn't be allowed to play sports or music. I did manage to quit everything, but by that point I was depressed and antisocial and suicidal and didn't have any motivation to have any hobbies.

And I got constantly told by my dad how happy I was and any disagreement and sharing of my feelings would cause a narcissistic rage were he would deny that I felt as I did. If I ever expressed that I was unhappy I was always yelled at. It's really bizarre and neurotic being told by someone else that you're happy, and my dad does that constantly.

There's also other signs like he's also a hypochondriac, and he has a lot of neurotic behavior, like weirdly boasting about how smart he is and dumb everyone else is, and going into a narcissistic rage when people have different tastes in music or tv or food or stuff like that. ...there's a lot more to it, but you get the idea.
I'm sorry you had to go through all that. I hope you are in a better position in life now.

I get very scared as well that I might be a narcissist when I have those moments that make me question if that constant exposure eventually rubbed off on me and permanently altered my identity for the worse.

I seem to quickly recover though once I recognize my motivations and are keenly aware of my flaws and try my best to solve them.

Anyway, my post is not just to share some of my experiences, but to also share that Kohut's theory of where narcism comes from seemed somewhat different than what was shown in the OP.

Kohut was very difficult to read, so I'm not sure if I understood and interpreted his ideas accurately.. but it seemed to me like he was saying that where narcissism comes from is when development of the superego gets arrested. So like when a baby is born their concept of their self isn't really there it needs to develop. And their mother for example and themself might be seen as a single object that will have to be differentiated. When the baby is hungry it cries by instinct and is supplied w/ a breast to feed, the crying is an instinct and is automatically met w/ the breast, so it's not obvious to the baby where the baby ends and the mother begins... that such distinctions need to be developed... and when we get older other aspects like possessions, clothing, activities, other stuff similarly to how a baby and a breast may be seen by the baby as part of the self.. other aspects that gets associated w/ identity become part of one's image of the self.... the ego is the picture of one's self. The superego is the picture of the ideal self that that someone wishes to be. The superego is usually shaped largely by parents (also tv shows and teachers, and anything else culturally, environmentally that shows them how they should be)...I think when kids are ~2,3 yrs old and mimicking their parents they are developing their super ego... after the super-ego is developed the child then needs to separate their super-ego from their ego and develop an ego, that satisfies their desire to be like their super ego... but which is reflective of reality and their weaknesses, flaws, etc. that is not up to par w/ their super ego. What happens w/ narcissists, is this doesn't happen, because they never to develop an ego, that satisfies enough their desire to be like their super ego, and so they instead only identify with their super-ego their ideal of how they're like to be, and not any ego of how they actually see themselves, because they never develop an ego. Kohut is really hard to read because he doesn't come out and say this in his writing... instead he talks about how he thinks narcissists should be dealt w/ which seems to be by helping them get involved in some activity, relationship, roles, etc. that satisfy aspects of their super-ego and thereby help them to be able and willing to develop and identify with an ego that is in line with reality.

So from reading kohut, it feels to me that there's a key time in a child's development when there is potential for developing narcism, basically, when the kid is developed an ego/identity that is in line w/ reality.. I don't know exactly what age it tends to happen, but I think when a kid is 2-4 they are developing their super-ego (and it continues to develop) but then (I would guess ages 5-8) they develop an self identity/ ego. With the description of Bob w/ his injury , I don't think you gave an age. Unless he was like 5-7 when it happened.. I would guess that he was already a narcissist before that injury happened... that injury and being teased may have contributed to and solidified it, but I would guess how his parents treated him when he was young 3-7 yrs old would be more the seeds for forming a narcissistic personality disorder.

When I look at my dad, there's nothing traumatic or obvious that would seems would have caused narcism, except that his parents, dad in particular, seemed rather neurotic as well.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It actually matches quite bizarrely with the thoughts I was having today in the morning regarding Freudian Id, Ego, Superego in relation to narcissistic personalities and Plato's tripartite theory of soul overlayed across Jungian shadow. Some concepts I've been recently attempting to coalesce with relationship to personality development.

I was actually looking at it from the transactional analysis point of view as well. Within a narcissist's early childhood their ego state is stuck in a Child form and is never elevated to Adult. And since their example of a Parent state is seemingly narcissistic in nature as well they have no where else to turn to to formulate a healthy ego alongside a well adjusted super ego that strives for betterment.

As such their ego needs are offloaded to the superego to bear, feeding their childlike nature into it and facilitating that all important mask that narcs wear in their day to day life.

I was mentally documenting the moments that the two narcs in my life showcased genuine emotion whether positive or negative. It's quite contrasting when compared to the average person. Their ego isn't healthy enough to express negative emotion about self so their super ego takes over to elevate their sense of self above others thus mitigating the suffering they would otherwise feel that would be necessary to grow and develop. Similar to how an unruly child would rather avoid and forget about a problem that tackle it and resolve it and develop self.

The way I see it is narcissism is a maladaptive development of an Ego during childhood that forces the Superego to perform the tasks of both and ultimately resulting in the loss of a healthy level of human emotion and empathy that is characteristic of an average person with a naturally functioning Ego.

What if narcissists do not lack a conscience but are actually a pure embodiment of it? Thus never allowing them to make mistakes or understand flaws in self.
 
  • Like
Reactions: desire machine
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top