I started writing my WordPress.com blog after I survived suicide. Through blogging, I tried to make sense of what had happened to me and within me. The genesis of my story was David, my dearest friend and lover, who would later be diagnosed by a team of competent psychiatrists as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), commonly called narcissism. Naturally, I started researching narcissism. What is it? How do you catch it? How can it be cured? I became somewhat of an expert on narcissism and its specific pattern of abusive behaviors known as Idealize, Devalue, and Discard. Everyone knows the adage that a table must have at least three legs in order to stand firmly. Idealize, Devalue, and Discard are the three behaviors of narcissism that define the illness and make it identifiable. There is no narcissism without these three specific legs.
From the American Psychiatrist Association DSM-V, Narcisstic Personality Disorder 301.81 cannot be summed up neatly in ten words. However, it seems to me that the aspect of NPD that disturbs the rest of us the most is:
Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
- Empathy: Lack of concern for feelings, needs, or suffering of others; lack of remorse after hurting or mistreating another.
- Intimacy: Incapacity for mutually intimate relationships, as exploitation is a primary means of relating to others, including by deceit and coercion; use of dominance or intimidation to control others.
From the first moment that David told me of his diagnosis, I believed that he could be rehabilitated, heal, and become whole. Narcissists are handicapped in that they do not form emotional bonds with other human beings or animals (pets). Consequently, they become isolated people who tend to be selfish, miserable, and jealous. I did not want that textbook outcome for my David, so I denied its truth. I searched for expert opinions that defended my position that even the narcissists themselves suffer emotional distress because of their illness. I found psychiatrists and other medical experts who backed up my position that a narcissist can be made well and I posted those articles to my blog, 18mitzvot: Narcissism, Grief, Recovery, Yiddishkeit. (Yiddishkeit is another name for Judaism.)
I also created my “Walnut Theory”. http://18mitzvot.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/why-do-i-still-love-the-narcissist-who-abused-me/
2. Kelipot. (Shells)
Picture a walnut.
The disease is the hard shell.
David is the soft fruit hidden inside.
I believe that if he breaks open his shell of Narcissism, he can defeat this disease. I have faith in him.
In my heart, I stayed committed to David because good people are loyal to family. When we started living together, I gave him my word that he was now part of my family and I would not abandon him nor turn off my affections like a water spigot. Blood before dishonor. When we separated, I kept my word. Even if he chose to be with some other woman, our covenant had been made. He spoke of the future day when he and his wife, me and my husband, his children, and my children would gather together for family joy. Even this was the dream of a narcissist because it answers to his needs instead of to ours.
David used to speak to me often about his illness, but in riddles and cryptic terms. I thought it was because he was embarrassed and ashamed of his handicap, however, I now think it was because he was concerned that if he told me too much, he would lose his narcissistic supply. The term “narcissistic supply” means stuff that the narcissist takes from his targets because of his distorted sense of entitlement and superiority. He might require adoration and compliments. He might require money and gifts, sexual favors, free housing, free use of the target’s automobile – whatever he can get. In short, narcissists use people to get things.
No matter what seemingly evil thing David did to hurt the people closest to him (like his father, his clergy, his teachers, his friends or his girlfriends), I continued to insist that he was a puppet to his illness and that there must be some way to stop the progression of the narcissism. I came up with the idea to treat narcissism like a heroin addiction.
Quote from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-addiction :
Approaches such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to effectively treat heroin addiction, especially when applied in concert with medications. Contingency management uses a voucher-based system in which patients earn “points” based on negative drug tests, which they can exchange for items that encourage healthy living. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is designed to help modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors related to drug use and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. An important task is to match the best treatment approach to meet the particular needs of the patient.
Recently, I had a breakthrough in my pursuit of a cure for NPD. I had the great fortune to have a meaningful dialogue with a second narcissist, my former husband of eleven years. (In the blog, I call him Driftwood because he is so boring.) I went to visit him because I had been storing some boxes in his basement. As we completed the final distribution of property from our marriage, he desperately wanted to confess a secret. The secret that he revealed to me was that he has NPD, something that I already knew. Driftwood chose to talk to me about his narcissism because:
Driftwood offered up his narcissism as a scapegoat for our failed marriage. He may even have been hoping that I had a solution for his disability, but the reality is that I can neither cure nor fix his illness. He is damaged beyond repair. That is the bitter truth of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Whether from parents who were neglectful, childhood sexual abuse, early trauma or possible brain damage; the narcissism happened and now it is too late. There is no known cure for NPD. No-one bounces back from NPD. A narcissist remains isolated, immature, and emotionally disabled until he or she dies. A narcissist continues to target new victims and to destroy their life. Narcissists are a danger to society.
Now that not one, but two NPD members of my extended family have confided in me that they know they are damaged and dangerous to others, it would be illogical for me to continue to defend narcissists when they themselves have admitted they are predators who seduce and destroy human targets via the narcissistic behavioral pattern of Idealize, Devalue, and Discard. Narcissists serve themselves of the flesh of friends and family for their own survival. In any other context, society would call them cannibals. In light of the most recent confession, it is no longer logical for me to expect narcissists to change. It is no longer logical for me to expect narcissists to become humane, loving or caring. I apologize for misleading any victims via my optimistic, hopeful, and charitable desire for my beloved family members to recover and be cured from their NPD.
From now on, I will be writing about my recovery. Both light and shadow, evil and peace exist in our world. Narcissists are shadow; I choose peace.
“The Truth About Narcissism.” is copyright © 2014 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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