The Narcissists’ Playbook

October 29, 2016

One of the first steps out of Narcissistic abuse is the realization that one is, in fact, dealing with a Narcissist.  I’m going to generalize a lot here (quite legitimately, I believe), but first, here’s my definition of a Narcissist:

a person who deceives others in order to take, deplete, and consume their life energy (“soul”) because the Narcissist lacks it

I wrote an article explaining and expanding upon this definition here.

The Uniformity of Survivors’ Experience

Narcissists all seem to operate according to the same “playbook”–as if they were all receiving basically the same instruction or guidance from the same source.  This is why survivors of Narcissistic abuse can legitimately refer en masse to “Narc(issist)s” or “a/the Narc(issist)” without further qualification and still be understood by other survivors.

It is in comparing one’s own experiences with the experiences of others who have endured similar (Narcissistic) dysfunction and abuse, up close and personal, that one finally becomes aware of the problem of Narcissism and all that it entails. With awareness comes choice, and with choice comes change.

These survivors’ experiences are characteristically similar…sometimes eerily, uncannily, almost exactly similar.  There is a certain calling card or modus operandi in the behavior of a Narcissist.  These practically uniform behaviors seem to point in a single direction, to a single source, as if there were a “Narcissists’ Club” with certain rules and standards of behavior (however low they may be).

(Maybe there’s even a Secret Narcissist Handshake, accompanied by a wink and a smirk.  Notice that Narcissists tend to leave each other alone.)

The Unique Individual Narcissist

There is some variation, of course.  Narcissists are not all literally exactly like each other.  The possibly universal set of traits that comprise “Narcissism” are tempered in the individual by the personality:  the unique set of characteristics that are one’s own and nobody else’s.  This is the case even for Narcissists.

So not all Narcissists are identical to each other, though they all may be strikingly in accord with each other.  Even an army–the very model of uniformity!–has dozens of different jobs, each with its own set of behaviors, functions, and even equipment.

Still, one who is not a soldier, but who knows what a soldier looks like, can easily identify one by his or her appearance and behavior.  So also can one who knows what a Narcissist “looks like” can easily identify one by his or her appearance and behavior, despite his or her similarity to everybody else.

To others, alas, the Narcissist does look just like everybody else, and to point him or her out to others might make one look crazy to some people.  “He’s got a shirt and pants and shoes just like everybody else.  So what if he sulks a bit?  He’s just having a bad day/week/month/year/etc., that’s all.  Lighten up!”

But are Narcissists really “just like everybody else”?

Disorder, Distortion, and Dysfunction

I may risk seeming unnecessarily divisive here, but I submit:

I’m being necessarily divisive here because Narcissists are NOT “just like everybody else”.  They may LOOK just like everybody else, but on the inside…well, they use a different “playbook” than everybody else!

There obviously isn’t some physical book, issued to every Narcissist, that could be found and read and exposed and re-printed for all to see.  The “playbook” is a sort of mental blueprint or psychological programming.  It can be “read” by observing the Narcissist’s behaviors–especially up close and personal, such as in a romantic or familial relationship with a Narcissist.

Observing a Narcissist’s public display of “acceptable” behaviors generally will NOT reveal the inner workings of the Narcissist, who can and does (as a lifestyle) deceive therapists, co-workers, teachers, authorities, social acquaintances, business associates, and friends of the family.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the Narcissist’s intelligence (perhaps unfortunately).

The problem is in the Narcissist’s disordered thinking, distorted feeling, and dysfunctional behavior.  (Perhaps these are three chapters in The Narcissists’ Playbook.)

Public vs. Private Behaviors

There are certain rules and standards that are understood and agreed upon in human societies.  Some behaviors are acceptable and others are not.  Many that are not acceptable are considered crimes.  Most people do their best to go pretty much by the same rules and standards that “everybody else” goes by.

The Narcissist knows very well what those social rules and standards are.  In fact, his or her survival as a Narcissist (read: his or her double identity) depends on knowing them very well.

But, as already mentioned, the Narcissist has his or her own (read: secret) rules and standards, as demonstrated by the behaviors endured–again, almost universally–by survivors of Narcissistic abuse.  Moreover, the Narcissist is able to “behave” him- or herself in certain (read: public) scenarios, while being quite secretive about his or her more abusive and socially unacceptable, or even criminal, behaviors.

This is one reason why Narcissists aren’t considered “crazy” by mainstream society (apart from simple public ignorance of the problem).  The popular logic goes somewhat like this:

If the Narcissist doesn’t do it all the time, then he or she can control it and therefore is NOT “crazy” because crazy people can’t control their behavior!

But they can surely hide their many dysfunctions and abuses when it really matters, can’t they?  There are words that describe this sort of behavior in grown-ups, such as slimy, manipulative, shady, sketchy, two-faced, treacherous, devious, deceptive, lying, and insidious…but, of course, not crazy.

Crazy people can’t all follow the same playbook, can they?

Emotional Implantation and the Cycle of Abuse

October 21, 2016

Abuse and emotional trauma can “implant” emotional pain into a child where there was no pain before.  The child then carries the psychological burden of this emotion for as long as the pain remains within–hidden, repressed, unacknowledged, and therefore unexpressed.

Expression of the pain, however, frees the person from both its burden and the toxicity that it causes in that person.

Time and Toxicity

The longer the pain festers, the more toxic it becomes.  The deeper it gets “buried” by layers of subsequent experience and memory, the more difficult it is to access and release.  If not dealt with, it simply lies dormant and waits until an experience triggers it and calls it back to the surface, to NOW.

The child may carry this baggage all the way into adulthood, creating a “cycle of abuse” as the abused child, now grown, abuses others when triggered.  The child harbors or carries this implanted emotion, just like the abuser did.  Also like the abuser, the grown child now implants it into others.

The “cycle of abuse” is simply the harboring and spreading of emotional pain, like one might carry and spread herpes or lice.  Negativity is highly contagious, and harm is remarkably easy to inflict on the innocent or the unsuspecting.

If not for the experience of having suffered abuse as a child–and the subsequent years of not releasing the resulting emotional pain–the grown child would not have toxic negativity hidden within…and thus would not tend to abuse others as an adult.

If past emotional pain were not present, there would be no triggers calling it forth NOW.  Tragically, the new abuser’s own children tend to trigger the abuser’s emotional pain…by calling forth memories from the abuser’s own childhood, when he (or she) was implanted.

And so the past becomes the present; long-dormant toxic pain comes to the fore; and the cycle is repeated again as the emotional burden is unloaded from one onto another.

5 Ways to Analyze the Spread of Negativity

The emotional implantation that leads to future toxicity (if not released) can be analyzed in at least five ways.  Each of these mechanisms may eventually become a repressed and subconscious part of the child’s developing personality:

1) Injected emotion–The abuse injects into the child’s psyche the same type of emotion that the abuser displays during the abuse, like receiving a vaccination that spreads illness.

2) Imprinted experience–The abuse imprints the abusive interaction onto the child’s psyche as a highly emotionally-charged memory, like being held down and branded with a hot iron.

3) Adopted identity–The child identifies him/herself as the “loser” in the abusive interaction and the abuser as the “winner.”  To avoid being the “loser” in the future, the child adopts the emotions and behaviors that the abuser displays.

4) Unexpressed reaction–Every action creates an equal and opposite reaction.  The appropriate and natural reaction of the human psyche is to reflect in kind (and thus to “deflect” negative) actions and emotional energy directed towards it.  In the moment of abuse, the child is unable to reflect/deflect the abuser’s actions or emotional energy, and the resulting “unexpressed reaction” remains in the child, seeking an outlet.

5) Psychic break–The overwhelming emotional energy of an abusive interaction breaks (or fractures, or splinters away) a part of the child’s psyche, which then “contains” the residual (and always negative) emotional energy from the experience, keeping it hidden from conscious awareness and protecting the child from its contents.

Corrupted Development

Experience shows the tendency of abused children to abuse others later in life.  As children, emotionally wounded people may abuse animals and/or other children; as adults, they may abuse other adults, too.

Thus, as “they” say, hurt people hurt people.  Unfortunately, the most toxic, negative, harmful, and abusive people are often those who have been hurt the most as children.  Though heartbreaking to consider, the “cycle of abuse” does not excuse grown people from spreading their emotional pain to others, most especially to children.

Abuse corrupts the child’s personality development–unless and until the emotional effects of the abusive incident(s) are corrected.  This happens when the injection is extracted, the imprint is removed, the identity is disowned, the reaction is allowed, or the break is mended.

This correction happens after the pain resulting from abuse or trauma is expressed through emotional release.

MY Truth, YOUR Truth, or THE Truth?

October 11, 2016

There is Truth and there is not-Truth. Not-Truth is not necessarily LIES, but it is falsehood.

There’s even “your” Truth and “my” Truth–but these are also false if they are not TRUE. The only “my Truth” and “your Truth” that is actually true is my or your perspective on THE Truth.

If what I claim as “my Truth” is not true to begin with, then it’s not a perspective on Truth at all. It’s just what I’m choosing to see, whether it’s true or false.

One’s perspective can be true, or it can be false. It’s just a point of view. But if one isn’t looking at Truth to begin with, then one can hardly claim one’s perspective to be one’s (or anybody’s) “Truth”.

But many still do. In fact, most of the time when people say that a perspective is their “Truth”, I’ve found that perspective not to be true at all! If one SEES Truth, there’s no need to call it “my” Truth.

It’s just the Truth.

It would be true for the person to simply say what their “Truth” really is: their opinion. Opinions are not Truth, even if we say they are, even if we climb them and conquer them and plant the flag of Truth in them.

A rock is not bread just because a person claims it to be, and one cannot really “plant the flag of Truth” anywhere. Truth is self-existent and self-evident to anyone who wishes to see it.

One does not create Truth by declaring that something is “true”, even if only “for” him- or herself. Truth does not exist only for certain people, and it doesn’t transform itself according to either people, perspectives, or opinions. It’s simply there, and either one SEES it or one doesn’t.

Truth is OBJECTIVE. It exists apart from any one (or anyone’s) point of view. One’s perspective of Truth, though, is SUBJECTIVE. It exists only in and from one’s own point of view.

These can and do exist together.

However, one’s opinion (or, indeed, falsehood) is also SUBJECTIVE–also existing in and from one’s point of view. The mere fact that an opinion (or falsehood!) can be transferred from one person’s point of view to another does not make that opinion OBJECTIVE, though.

The transference of a SUBJECTIVE viewpoint (whether one’s Truth or one’s falsehood) from one person to another requires the act of BELIEF. This is not the same as perceiving Truth from one’s own perspective, which requires NO belief.

One does not BELIEVE Truth, except by accident, because Truth is DIRECTLY perceived, with no middleman or intermediary involved–just the SUBJECT (point of view) and the OBJECT (Truth perceived).

Two people who both see their own perspectives of Truth have no conflict in their views because there is, and can be, no conflict between “my” Truth and “your” Truth. Truth is One!

But LIES are many.

When a person in conflict falls back on the claim of “my Truth”, rather than pointing to OBJECTIVE Truth, beware! If you cannot see Truth yourself, you may end up believing LIES instead.

Honoring the Boundaries of Your Personal Domain

October 2, 2016

The jungle: Here I was born; and here my parents died when I was but an infant. I would have soon perished, too, had I not been found by a kindly she-ape named Kala, who adopted me as her own and taught me the ways of the wild. I learned quickly, and grew stronger each day, and now I share the friendship and trust of all jungle animals. The jungle is filled with beauty, and danger; and lost cities filled with good, and evil. This is my domain, and I protect those who come here; for I am Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle!”

–Opening narration from the 1976-77 cartoon Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

Life can seem like a jungle sometimes, “filled with beauty, and danger…good, and evil” like Tarzan said here.  Indeed, “the jungle” is a fitting analogy for life.

The Lord or Lady of Your Jungle

Like Tarzan, in the “jungle” of life you also have a domain.  Like Tarzan, you are the “Lord” (or “Lady”) of your domain–the portion of life over which you have the right, authority, and power to exercise dominion: direct, personal control over your domain.

You HAVE a domain and you HAVE dominion over it…already, right now, all the time.  Your domain is defined by your boundaries.

These interlocking concepts describe a highly important reality for every human being.  To put it all together:

You have dominion (the right, authority, and power to exercise direct, personal control) over your domain (the portion of life that is defined by your boundaries).

Just like Tarzan, you are the Lord or Lady of your jungle!

Interestingly, your domain exists and has its boundaries quite naturally–and also quite independently of your awareness of it!  Your domain is there, whether you realize it or not.  So it’s important that you be aware of the extent of your dominion: where your boundaries actually ARE.

Your Parcel in the Jungle of Life

Having a personal domain, but not knowing that you have it, is like being the owner of a parcel in the jungle…but not being aware that you own it.  In the absence of your dominion over it, the jungle itself and adjacent landowners might encroach upon it.

Indeed, according to “the ways of the wild,” why wouldn’t they?

Weeds, vines, and thorns might overgrow your domain.  “Lost cities” may exist in your part of the jungle, but without you ever knowing about them.  You could also lose out on the “friendship and trust” that exercising your dominion would bring to your domain.

If you aren’t aware of your own Lordship within the boundaries of your domain, your piece of the jungle might become quite an inhospitable place!  However–and this is important to note–in real life, you live inside your domain all the time, no matter what condition it’s in, whether you know it or not.

So, in real life, NOT exercising dominion over your personal domain is like sitting, oblivious, on your own jungle parcel…living among ever-thicker weeds, vines, and thorns…while adjacent landowners ignore your boundaries…and you wonder why you lack “friendship and trust”.

The Boundaries of Your Realm

“Exercising dominion over your domain” is also known as defining and enforcing your personal boundaries.  Interestingly, you can only exercise your dominion to the degree that 1) you are aware that you have it and 2) you believe that you can use it!

Weeds, vines, and thorns don’t have to grow up over the “lost cities” within your realm.  You can uproot them or hack them down.  Your neighbors don’t have to encroach upon the edges of your parcel.  You can build fences to keep out “danger” and “evil”–with gates to allow “friendship and trust” and “beauty” and “good” to enter.

Where, then, do these boundaries exist?  What is the extent of one’s personal domain?  At what point do neighbors begin to trespass on it if boundaries aren’t enforced?

Where, indeed, do “I” end and “you” begin?  This is how a recovering codependent, people-pleaser, fixer, enabler, and/or target of Narcissistic abuse might ask the question.

One’s domain ends with the extent of one’s own personal responsibility for oneself…and for others who depend upon oneself (the ones who can’t be responsible for themselves).  Every mature adult is responsible for his or her own domain.  By the same token, no one is responsible for another mature adult’s domain.

These realms of life are part of nearly every adult’s personal domain:

personal hygiene, belongings and property, procuring room and board, choice and acquisition of clothing, receiving medical care, getting to work, doing one’s job, handling financial matters, getting an education or training, child care, and responsibility for all of the above with one’s own child(ren)

The violation of another person’s domain through deception, coercion, or force is called abuse.  Taking another person’s responsibilities upon oneself is called enabling.  Both are results of a mature adult not exercising dominion.

Boundaries, then, work in both directions: they keep others from violating our domain, even as they prevent us from violating theirs.  Exercising dominion causes us to honor everyone’s boundaries, not only our own.

Honoring personal boundaries is called respect.

The Expanding Domain

Note that one’s own children are within one’s own domain.  Note also, however, that one’s own children are also within the domain of the children’s other parent. This presents many opportunities to honor (or violate) each other’s boundaries.

Note also that every child has his or her own personal domain, which starts out very small and expands as the child learns, grows, and matures.  From birth, even the smallest child has a domain that exists within the boundaries of (but also independently of) his or her parents’ domains.

This fact has great importance in the raising of children who will become emotionally and psychologically healthy (mature) adults.

A mature adult has a responsibility to honor the boundaries of his or her own domain.  Exercising dominion causes us also to honor other people’s boundaries, which prevents us from either abusing or enabling others.  In turn, we teach our children by our example to respect others (and themselves), and we allow them to become mature.

Like Tarzan, the mature adult can say, “This is my domain, and I protect those who come here”–for you are the Lord or Lady of your piece of the jungle of life.

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