Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Narcissism Part Four (Random Notes)

 I found that, in studying many Narcissist videos and in reading books, a few notes are worth mentioning here.  One is that the term "Narcissist Personality Disorder" (NPD) is worth not using.  This is for a number of reasons that is worth mentioning here.  The term is a clinical term and technically requires a diagnosis from a psychiatrist to establish.  The term has some issues worth mentioning.  The NT, Narcissist type, is a person with a certain kind of profile and cluster of behavioral strategies that are interlocking and tend to work together.  Looking at it this way, whether or not it is a pathology or a disorder does not arise.  One problem with labeling the NT as an NPD is that there is some issue with calling it a disorder.  In a usual pathology, there is a sense that the person is handicapped by having this disorder.  Yet an NT is highly functional and therefore does not fit this understanding of what it is.

In a strictly legal sense, the requirement of a doctor diagnosis to label someone NPD is curious, because the NT, being invested in forming a "public mask" has no wish to undergo a diagnosis that will expose them in this regard.  It is also clear that the number of NTs who have been diagnosed as NPD is very few compared to those who have never submitted to such a process.  Rather than get into a legal mess and confusion about this, it is better to side step this issue completely.

The term "Narcissist Type" is more general and is unlikely to cause the same issues.  It is also not clear if NPD and NT mean the same thing.

My reason for writing notes here is because this NT is a type that has the potential to cause people harm.  If it were not so, I would not bother to compile these notes.  The writing I am doing here is just to "future proof" the reader and also for a person who is suffering in a relationship with an NT to recognize what is happening and learn to break free from what is a toxic relationship, or, if not able to do this, to understand what is going on so that one can more successfully adapt to the situation.  With awareness and understanding of what is going on, one can form more realistic expectations of what is possible and take more clear steps to claiming one's own life and fully living it.

One issue with the NPD term is that the psychiatric community and the clinical counselling community seem to believe that this NPD person is not curable and that the NPD person is not "redeemable".  Because of my spiritual understanding of the Uttara Buddhist Tantra, everyone has "buddha nature" and therefore everyone will eventually get enlightened, everyone will get "redeemed".  It may take many lifetimes, but it will happen to everyone.  Part of the reason why NPD people are considered not redeemable is practical.  The covert narcissist type will insincerely plead for help and keep hooking in a person who is trying to leave them.  As humans, we have the tendency to be helpful and especially want to help those that we love get cured.  This helpful love can keep us trapped in such toxic relationships.  So councilors will say that they are not redeemable or not curable to help people to break free of them and leave them, to save those under their psychic grip.

The councilors are probably right in this regard that they are not really redeemable, but not for the reasons that I would regard as true.  In order to walk a path of spiritual healing and spiritual liberation, a person has to sincerely want to be healed and allow themselves to be healed.  NTs do not want to do this, because their strategies are perceived as working for them and they do not want to give up what works for them.  Unless some crisis happens, where they realize what they have lost by living their strategies, they are not yet ready to be helped and healed.  Part of their strategy is to plead for help to hook people in, to play helpless to suck people into their drama vortex to emotionally manipulate them, and to wear a mask to hide their real agenda to control people to make them give them what they want.

In my notes here, I do not care if an NT and an NPD are the same.  My wish is not to do anything clinical or to pathologize any one through a label.  I am also not interesting in trying to cure anyone who is not open to, ready to, and willing to be healed and helped by another.  I believe that free will is sacred and that every step on the spiritual path requires willing choice.

I am writing down these notes because the NT exploits several natural human tendencies which are essentially good.  One is to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that, even when bad traits show up, people are essentially good.  This means that, even when an NT is "unmasked", people will assume that it was a temporary lapse into bad behavior in a good person.  An NT, because they, like all sentient beings, have "buddha nature", they are "good people".  But this goodness is, in a sense "buried twice", once behind their public mask and then again behind their angry hidden self that they believe that they are.  People need to be aware of their commitment to live from this "angry hidden self" and stay away from them until they are ready to confront and come to terms who they have made themselves to be.

In Tibetan Buddhist, the NT is called an "Asura".  It is sometimes called the realm of the "jealous gods".  Karmically, they have worst karma and more suffering than most human beings.  In one Buddhist system, the Human realm is placed above them, and in another Buddhist system, the Human realm is placed below the Asura realm.  They are both right.  This is because they seem to get the upper hand over humans.  They can generally outwit, manipulate, dominate, and subjugate humans through a kind of psychological control and push pull emotional dynamic that keeps humans confused, reactive, tormented, and submissive.  They use a kind of jealous competition, paranoid psychic scanning, subliminal undermining, push pull emotional victim drama, and predatory seduction to work on humans.

To merely get sensitized to the Asura type (AT) is not enough.  Unlike many other types, this NT or AT is predatory.  They want to hook in others and exploit them for their own purposes.  They realize that this usually requires them to be covert, to hide and lie about their real motives, to work from behind a positive social mask and act like an expert, a helper, and a good person.  They "love bomb" and make you feel that they are great and can even make people fall in love with them before they undermine the person and exploit the person.  In order to be immune to their predation and their strategies, one needs to deeply understand one's own self.  The AT will study the people around them behind the pleasant chit chat that they do in the love bombing phase.  They will find weaknesses to exploit, desires that they can hook into and manipulate through pulling these strings, and guilt levers they can activate.

Some ATs are not so skillful in their manipulations, but as the AT evolves, they will get better and better at it.  Some are very good at what they do.  Hence, these notes.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Narcissism Part Three: Early Warning Identifiers

 This is the third article I am writing in regarding to the Narcissist Type.  I have been studying this subject both in my direct experience and viewing several discussions on videos with counsellors who are trained to work with people who are suffering from "Narcissistic Abuse" within a relationship.  I am writing this article for several purposes.  One of these purposes is to review what I am learning and to be able to place the understanding of the Narcissist type on the Enneagram and to map out the dynamics of this type.  At this point, I am organizing my notes to upscale the video discussions to a higher level of empirical and psychological precision.  The discussions that I find are excellent and very empirical and experiential in an informal way, but still lack a precision that I feel that I need to feel complete with this subject.

One issue that I have is that I have looked at a few videos that are trying to give people some "early warning identifiers" so that people can disengage soon enough to avoid getting "enmeshed" in this Narcissist type.  What I have found is that the Narcissist type, probably through their own history of being wounded in their formative past experiences, unconsciously wishes to "trauma bond" with someone and pull this person into a relationship or friendship where he or she will engage in a dysfunctional power struggle which is characteristic of enmeshed family systems that so many people were raised within as children, with a high probability that the parents were Narcissist types.  The Narcissistic Abuse is part of the trauma bond experience and when fully formed can be a difficult bond to terminate and move on from.  In other words, the abuse itself is not merely an unpleasant aspect of the experience of being with them, but serves a function in keeping the relationship or friendship continuing through time.  The abuse is also not merely part of their need to be in control (which many of the counselors focus on) or their need to "win" in the power struggle that they create with their target person, it serves to create a dysfunctional bond that emulates their dysfunctional family system that they were raised in.  The bond can be very strong and be very hard to break.  It anchors into the target person as a "survival imprint" and the target person can be very anxious and even feel guilty if he or she tries to leave the relationship or friendship.

In some of the videos that I have been studying, the identifiers for the Narcissist type, especially the "Covert Narcissist", are, in my opinion, not early enough.  They identifiers are excellent to verify that one is already in a relationship, friendship, or business partnership with an Narcissist type, but not so excellent when it comes to sensitizing oneself to "early warning identifiers" so that one can disengage early enough that one pulls out of the enmeshment before it fully forms.  The "early warning identifiers" (EWIs for short) also need to be precise enough so that one does not accidentally mislabel a person who is not a Narcissist type and unwittingly lose a chance to form a good and worthwhile friendship or relationship.  One challenge with forming the EWIs is that most people have some narcissist traits and therefore the mere presence of Narcissist traits is usually not enough to form a valid EWI.

What I needed to do in my notes is to define a "narcissist scale" that goes like this:

(1) potential narcissism.  What Freud called "primary narcissism", where children have a kind of natural and innocent self centeredness that could develop into an Narcissist type.

(2) mild narcissism.  Where an ordinary person evolves some of the personality traits of a narcissist, but they have not congealed into a full blown Narcissist type.

(3) covert narcissism.  Where the traits develop into strategies and congeal into a full blown Narcissist type personality.  What I feel the line that is crossed is when the Narcissist type uses lying deliberately, not from fear of punishment or fear of being shamed, but as a strategy so hide their real agenda so that it can work upon people who do not see through the camouflage.  The hiding of the agenda is necessary for the strategies to work.  In other words, the deception is necessary.  Many of the counselors have emphasized this and have noted, intuitively, that Narcissist types do not merely lie.  Their lying is different and functions differently.  This is often not fully explained well.  They are called "masters of lying" or "compulsive liars", but neither of these descriptors touches upon the "how and why" of their unique style of lying.  It is also clear to me that the Narcissist type uses several different lying styles.  For instance, they wear a public persona mask and hides who and what they are (lie#1).  They will deny that they did something even when they are caught "red headed" or with a "smoking gun" (lie#2, and which may be reinforced by "gaslighting" where they will convince their target that he or she must have been mistaken and aggressively pressure the person to disconnect and lose confidence in their own experience and what they are learning from their experience, which can cause very serious psychological damage and render them vulnerable to be exploited by others).  They can make up a story and pull people into a victim drama to shift blame and control those around them through guilt (lie#3).  They can be vague and elusive when one is trying to pin them down and figure out what is going on (lie#4).  They can be overly complimentary in the beginning to make you feel safe around them (lie#5).  They can exaggerate faults to make a person feel worse about themselves and undermine their necessary self esteem (lie#6).  They can minimize their own faults or minimize how impactful their faults are to those around them (lie#7).  They can pretend to forget their agreements to rationalize breaking the agreements (lie#8).  They can hide their "pervasive anger" behind a pleasant mask so that one is surprised later on when the anger bursts out of them (lie#9).

(4) overt narcissism.  This is the stage where the traits are out in the open and can be verified more easily, though even when an Narcissist type is overt, there is still a mask of illusion.  They will still blame others, for instance, for what they do.  If they burst out in anger and show their pervasive anger, they will say that "they had to do it" because others "forced them" and they "had no choice".  This blaming others for what they do (lie#10) can fool some people who believe that the Narcissist type only needs to get rid of their enemies or to punish them to feel better.  When the Narcissist type is overt, there are styles of overtness.  They can work a community or group, and hold sway over them.  They can rise to power through a corporate ladder, steal other people's ideas and work to prove to bosses that they are worth promoting, etc.  They can pretend that others are "behind them" when targeting someone (the flying monkey effect, lie#11).

(5) tyrannical narcissism.  This is the stage where a person may rule through fear, murdering or poisoning opponents, torture people so as to make others comply for fear of being tortured, use censorship and media control, slander rivals with lies and propaganda, and even expand his or her empire to dominate other countries.

By having this scale, one can see that the EWIs are about differentiating between stage 2 and stage 3.  The mild narcissism is a trait of relatively ordinary people and because of this we forgive others when these traits show up.  The traits are not united into a fully organized strategy and life pattern that appears in stage 3.  What this scale implies is that stage 4 and 5 Narcissist types must start with being a stage 3 covert narcissist first.

I felt I made progress in forming my EWI list when I realized that Narcissist 3 types will operate behind a mask public persona when we first meet them.  They intend to fool us into believing the mask and therefore the mask is the key to forming a reliable EWI.  This is because the "mask" is part of a strategy and is not merely a random developmental trait that is forming due to the social pressures and dysfunctional family stresses that we all pass through.

The mask will pretend to be an expert or authority about certain things, will pretend to be good, generous, and even altruistic, and generally the mask will minimize faults.  It will have subtle arrogant flavor and may even communicate that they are better than others.  This is because an Narcissist type 3 is in competition with everyone and needs to prove that they are superior to others.  If someone seems to be more expert than they are or if their altruistic ethics are questioned, they will be tempted to put their rivals down, belittle them, and point out any fault, and even wait in ambush to jump on a weakness when it shows up.  It can be seen very early, even in the very first meeting.  There is aggression and "love bombing" with an exaggerated goodness or expertness being shown.  They might pretend to already be a success or an expert or very good at something, before they have taken the time to form those skills.  They feel that they do not have to work at achieving things like other people, because they have natural talent and are "entitled to success" and blame others not recognizing their talent for their failure or blame others for sabotaging them.