Apr 24

“It’s Not You”: It’s Your Narcissist

Clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula has a new bestseller: It’s Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People. Previous titles by this expert that also tackled issues of narcissism are Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist and “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”: How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility.

Durvasula, by the way, not only has significant experience working with survivors of narcissistic abuse, she’s also confronted it in her own life.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Narcissists can be charming and seductive, often attracting partners with ‘love bombing,’ but soon their self-serving behavior surfaces. As her detailed case histories reveal, among the traits that mark a narcissistic personality are a craving for constant validation and admiration, delusional grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy. They abuse those close to them with behaviors such as gaslighting, dismissiveness, rage, threats, revenge, isolation, and betrayal. Victims of this abuse, she has found from her patients, tend to blame themselves and feel shame, confusion, depression, and anxiety.

Selected Quotes from It’s Not You

Identifying a narcissistic person is far less important than understanding what qualifies as unacceptable behavior and what it does to you.

I am tired of people calling those of us who get stuck in these cycles “codependent” or “addicted” to the narcissistic relationship. It’s not that. If you have any empathy, have normal cognitive functioning, and were shaped by societal and cultural norms and realities, it is not surprising that you would get stuck. The narcissistic relationship is like a riptide that pulls you back in even as you try to swim away. The intensity, attentiveness, and highs and lows are why you swim out to where the riptide is. The abusive behavior makes you want to swim away from the riptide, but the guilt and fear of leaving, the practical issues raised by leaving (financial, safety, cultural, family), as well as the natural drive toward attachment, connection, and love are what keep you stuck in the riptide’s pull.

Selected Quotes from Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The narcissist is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom: No matter how much you put in, you can never fill it up. The phrase “I never feel like I am enough” is the mantra of the person in the narcissistic relationship. That’s because to your narcissistic partner, you are not. No one is. Nothing is.

Gaslighting qualifies as a form of emotional abuse that involves denying a person’s experience and making statements, such as “that never happened,” “you’re too sensitive,” or “this isn’t that big a deal.

Selected Quotes from “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”

…(I)f a person leads with charm and charisma and plenty of confidence, sit up straight and pay cautious attention. Make sure that there is empathy, that entitlement is not at play, that the person is genuine, that there is respect and, frankly, that he or she has the goods to back it up. Don’t let the charisma and charm blind you and stop you from looking deeper for the rest of it.

Narcissistic and toxic relationships leave you feeling depleted in a variety of ways: feeling like you aren’t good enough, chronically second-guessing yourself, often apologizing, and/or feeling as though you are losing your mind, helpless, hopeless, sad, depressed, anxious, unsettled, no longer getting pleasure out of your life, ashamed, guilty, and exhausted.

In fact, the best narcissist repellant out there may not be yelling or screaming or revenge but simply indifference.

Sep 25

Parented by a Narcissist?

Parented by a narcissist? The following quotes about being parented by a narcissist have been selected from the following books:

Ramani Durvasula: [Being parented by a narcissist] is an early manifestation of a phenomenon termed by some as “co-narcissism.” Alan Rappoport describes this as unconsciously adapting to and supporting the narcissistic patterns of another person. He argues that this pattern starts in childhood, with the child having to adjust and calibrate to the narcissistic parent.
Narcissistic parents are not tuned into their children, and the narcissistic parent largely views the child as an object with which to satisfy his or her needs. Narcissistic parents will be overly indulgent and intrusive about some things and detached and uninterested in others. Children in these situations often believe life is unpredictable and strive hard to please “unpleasable” and distracted parents. If you grow up like this, you learn that you are valued for what you did, but only if it was aligned with your parent’s wants and needs. It can be a confusing way to grow up and also the perfect set-up for accepting narcissistic behavior as “normal” and then tolerating it from a partner or in other close relationships.

Danu Morrigan: Being raised by a narcissist is a special kind of crazy. It is a pure and lasersharp form of psychological and emotional abuse. But even more devastatingly, it is an invisible abuse. Neither the perpetrator nor the victim even knows it‟s happening. The perpetrator, the narcissist, doesn‟t think she‟s abusing anyone because, by definition, she‟s perfect, remember, and perfect people don‟t do imperfect things like abuse people. And the abuse victim, the daughter – this would be you – doesn’t realise she‟s abused because she believes her mother‟s lies and thinks that everything is her fault, that she is the one who is broken.

Karyl McBride: Boys seem to have a different kind of relationship with Mother. Just about every daughter of a narcissistic mother has reported to me that her brother or brothers were better liked and more favored than she or her sisters were. Daughters consistently report how hurtful this has been. Typically, the mother appears not to notice the imbalance, or if confronted, denies it, but it does make some sense. Her sons are not threatening to her in relation to the father as another girl or woman is, because the boys are not as much an extension of her as is a daughter.

Danu Morrigan: Our Narcissistic Mother told us a Big Lie. She told it subliminally if not in actual words. And The Big Lie was this: If we tried hard enough we could win her approval and her love. If we were good enough, or wise enough, or beautiful enough, or that-magical-unspecified-ingredient enough. In other words, if we achieved perfection, she would love us.

 Joseph Burgo: Narcissistic Parents often enlist other family members on their side, causing rifts and building alliances against a “bad” child. In other words, they may bully their own children. The victims of such behavior often describe themselves as a “scapegoat,” held accountable for all the family troubles. Their mothers often compare them unfavorably to a sibling viewed as “golden,” one child a loser and the other a winner. Narcissistic Parents tell blatant lies, too, painting themselves as victims and their children as heartless ingrates.

Robert M. Pressman and Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman: The typical adult from a narcissistic family is filled with unacknowledged anger, feels like a hollow person, feels inadequate and defective, suffers from periodic anxiety and depression, and has no clue about how he or she got that way.

Sep 18

Your Relationship with a Narcissist

Below are quotes from seven different authors regarding how to understand and deal with your relationship with a narcissist.

Narcissists constantly dump – or project – unwanted parts of themselves onto other people. They then begin to behave as if others possess these unwanted pieces of themselves, and they may even succeed in getting others to feel as if they actually have those traits or feelings. This is an unconscious process for both the dumper and the dumpee, but what it means is that you end up being treated like the dirt they’ve brushed off their own psyches, or feeling the humiliation, the anger, the vulnerability, and worthlessness that they cannot tolerate themselves.
Sandy Hotchkiss, Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2002)

There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting that they made one. It’s always an assistant’s fault, an adviser’s fault, a lawyer’s fault. Ask them to account for a mistake any other way and they’ll say, ‘what mistake’?
Jeffrey Kluger, The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed–in Your World (2014)

This limits, or even eliminates, their capacity to be empathic and remorseful. You may have heard the term “narcissistic injury.” This refers to the dynamic wherein, for a narcissist, saying a simple “I’m sorry” is like saying, “I am the worst human being on earth.
Wendy T. Behary, Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed (2013)

The narcissist is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom: No matter how much you put in, you can never fill it up. The phrase “I never feel like I am enough” is the mantra of the person in the narcissistic relationship. That’s because to your narcissistic partner, you are not. No one is. Nothing is.
Ramani Durvasula, Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist (2015)

Because the narcissist can only understand others by absorbing them into his own experience of self, he determines that others should behave and act the way that HE behaves and acts. Again, to use the analogy of the arm and leg, he unconsciously expects you to conform to his will, just as his own arm or leg would do. When your behavior deviates from his expectations, he often becomes as upset with you as he would be if his arm or leg were no longer under his control.
Eleanor Payson, The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family (2003)

Here lies the partner’s salvation: if you, as his intimate, wish to sever your relationship with the narcissist, stop providing him with what he needs. Do not adore, admire, approve, applaud, or confirm anything he does or says. Disagree with his views belittle him, reduce him to size, compare him to others, tell him he is not unique, criticize him, give unsolicited advice, and offer him help. In short, deprive him of the grandiose and fantastic illusions, which holds his personality together.
The narcissist is a delicately attuned piece of equipment. At the first sign of danger to his inflated False Self, he will quit and disappear on you.
Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited (2001)

Dealing with a narcissist in a divorce is like dealing with a bully. The wear and tear you will experience when you try to protect your child’s emotional welfare will be significant. Even though you are mentally healthier than the narcissist, you can look unstable to the professionals involved in your case due to your reactions to the bully’s abusive behavior.
Karyl McBride, Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family (2015)