Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Is it Possible to Be Too Nice? - Yes, When Dealing with a Malignant Narcissist

As children, we're taught to be nice. This is a good thing. As we develop into normal human beings, we also learn to look at life from the perspective of others. If someone is going through a rough time, we feel badly about this and try to help.

Narcissists take advantage of people who are empathetic. Because they are so clever at reading others, they seem to sense when someone has strong empathetic qualities. Then, they'll use these to exploit you.

Although virtually anybody can be taken in by a con artist, being nice and vulnerable in a certain area puts you more at risk, according to the experts.

I'm not sure how scientific it is, but there is an online test you can take to gauge just how much at risk you are, for falling for the ploys of a sociopath (or a malignant narcissist). The test is available on the popular site LoveFraud Blog, dedicated to people who've been deceived (usually romantically) by a sociopath. Here is a link to the test.

Flickr photo by turcottes 78

Friday, December 27, 2013

What do Do, When a Narcissist Turns People Against You

A malignant narcissist wants to bring down her target. So she'll ruin her other relationships. Because people with this personality disorder are adept at sizing others up, they zero in on vulnerabilities with laser-like precision. For instance, you might work in a large office. Your best friend at work is a nice person. But she wants to advance in the company. The narcissist knows this. Since she's in a position of power, she uses this advantage. She employs a tool called "favoritism" to create tension in your friendship.

First, she excludes you from important meetings. She also neglects to include you in after-hours strategy sessions at a local restaurant. What's being discussed is essential to the project you've been working on for more than a year. You're also not invited to a baby shower she's throwing for another colleague, despite the fact you know the expectant mother well. However, she's tapped your best buddy at work to help with the decorations.

Your friend is a little torn between her loyalty to you and her career. In the end, though, she goes along with the narcissist because of her persistent overtures. Then, she justifies this. After all, it's just a "personality conflict" between the two of you. She won't get in the middle of it.

Out of work, you start to see your friend less and less. She's usually bogged down in work-related assignments. On weekends, she goes on ski trips with others from your company. The narcissist, who owns the ski cabin, invites everyone in the office, except for you.

What do you do in this situation, and how do you save your friendship? Actually, the best advice I can give is don't even try. Don't grovel and don't make extraordinary efforts to see your "friend" when she has some extra time. Whenever a friendship starts to become uncomfortable, it's no longer worth investing as much energy as before.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with people outside of your office. You are now working in a toxic environment, and you also might want to think about new employment prospects.

Hold your head up and don't complain. There's a good chance your complaint will reach the ears of the narcissist, who has skillfully arranged this impossible-to-fix situation.

Flickr photo by skley

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Sinister Art of "Gaslighting"

Of all the gadgets in a narcissist's toolbox, the most sinister of all is "gaslighting." This term is taken from a 1940's movie starring Ingrid Bergman. She is married to a psychopath who tries to drive her insane. He makes her doubt herself by playing little tricks on her. First, he rearranges things in their home, but denies doing so. Later, he dims the gas lights in the attic, while she is up there looking for something. However, at this point, she catches on to his sick act.

A malignant narcissist also attempts to get you to doubt yourself, and to blame yourself for the problems they've created. People with this disorder are extremely deceptive. They construct elaborate scenarios, leading up to a situation in which you take the fall. Much of this is done by gaslighting.

My own experience with gaslighting? Believe it or not, it happened at church. I was heavily involved in a certain project. However, this effort attracted the interest of a malignant narcissist. An extremely manipulative individual, she created an uncomfortable situation that forced me to abandon the project. Much of this was accomplished with heavy gaslighting, the details of which I'll spare you.

Pretending to be in the background, and not involved at all, she worked behind the scenes to assume control of the project. (By that time, I no longer cared about it.) This is how malignant narcissists operate.

How do you know you're being gaslighted? First you need to recognize that you're dealing with a malignant narcissist. Learn the signs of this disorder. Then, the events will replay themselves almost like a movie. The confusion evaporates. All those things that didn't make sense before make perfect sense now. Someone was messing with your mind.

Breaking free of this dynamic is the only solution. Malignant narcissists are dangerous. We need to put a lot of space between them and us.

Flickr photo by Thomas's pics

Monday, December 9, 2013

What Happens When Narcissists Grow Old?

Do female narcissists mellow with age? It doesn't appear that way, as reports from various nursing homes indicate that bullying is a huge problem. There isn't much written about this, save for a few scattered articles. A couple of years ago, though, a New York Times blog described in painful detail how some residents are abused by their peers.

Much of this was done through relational aggression. This involved socially isolating certain people. When confronted with this behavior, the perpetrators refused to change, or even admit they were at fault.

One poster on the blog left a message that her elderly aunt was shunned, although she didn't let it bother her. What did she do to warrant this kind of treatment?

Her "crime" was spending time, over the holidays, at her niece's house. Because some residents weren't able to leave, they wouldn't speak to her when she returned.

This was by no means an isolated incident. Social workers and activities directors are well aware of the epidemic of relational aggression among the elderly. It just underscores the sad fact that meanness has no upper age limit.

Flickr photo by quinn.anya

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can You Ever Win With a Narcissist?

The short answer to that question is no. A narcissist is always at least three steps ahead of you. For some reason, people suffering from this disorder are unusually perceptive. They read others very well. In some ways, they know us better than we know ourselves. This includes our strengths, which they envy, and our weaknesses, which they exploit.

Because narcissists are destructive, they are extremely adept at using the insight they've gleaned to cause a great deal of damage. First they size you up. They gain your confidence by appearing trustworthy. By the time you realize they aren't, they're well along in their plan to destroy you.

They also have no compunction about using underhanded tactics. This includes breaking every possible rule of social decency.

In order to outsmart them, if that were even possible, you'd have to descend to their level. You'd have to probe them for weaknesses, and then use this knowledge to topple them. A normally wired human being wouldn't want to do that. Besides, you're not devious enough and a narcissist wouldn't let you that close to their real self anyway.

This is a game you don't want to play. What you want is to do is to put as much distance as you can between the narcissist and you.

Flickr photo by smlp.co.uk