January 29, 2007

What Makes Narcissists Tick - "All con artists are thus protected by the pride of those they con..."

...Many, if not most, narcissists get away with bullying, slander, calumny, and abuse (even as prosecutable offenses) their whole lives. How? It's easy:

• make the abuse so outrageous people cannot see why anybody would do such a thing

• destroy the victim's credibility in advance.

No one does the things a narcissist does without thinking about the possible consequences. So, they are going to think up ways to avoid those consequences, too.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you want to get away with abusing someone, you first launch a pre-emptive attack on their character, so that nobody will believe them when they soon complain about what you are doing to them…

Everybody knows that when somebody defends himself from accusations with accusations, the crowd always believes the one who accused first and views the defendant as the attacker. This is irrational, because the initial accuser is the attacker and there is no more reason to believe one party than the other.

So, people don't do this in good faith. Indeed, the more preposterous the initial accuser's accusations, the more firmly people believe them! They do this out of self interest, because the return allegations make them look bad for eagerly swallowing the first accuser's preposterous and juicy lies whole.
All con artists are thus protected by the pride of those they con.

The narcissist commits moral mayhem by destroying the victim's reputation and credibility, so that nobody will believe her about him. His description of her is projection, a perfect description of himself... Nobody will even listen to her. Thus, the narcissist reduces her to a hapless and helpless state.

Narcissistic bullies in the workplace, especially as administrators in nonprofit institutions, are notorious for doing this. Their total destruction of the victim's life is so willful and wanton that it can sometimes only be viewed as a deliberate attempt to drive him or her to suicide. And all too often it does…

Attention is a value judgment. We pay it only to things we deem worthy of it. So, by treating others as unworthy of any regard, Narcissus is acting as though they are beneath notice, insignificant and infinitely less important than all-important him. He pays no more regard to them in what he does than you pay to bug you step on while crossing the street. They are nothing; he is everything.

This is how he compensates for that demeaning value judgment his narcissistic parent imprinted on his soul. This is how he edits the shameful image of himself he saw reflected in that parent's contemptuous eye. In other words, he does to others what that parent did to him. Since that's what made that parent a god, that's what makes him a god.

How does he enact this fiction? By treating you like dirt. And by maligning you behind your back. You could define a narcissist as someone who likes to treat others like dirt and ruin their reputations.

This is the game a narcissist plays, in a nutshell. Because he is an emotional imbecile (i.e., mentally of pre-school-age maturity).

The only people he doesn't abuse this way are those he doesn't dare abuse. Or those he can aggrandize himself by association with. Or those he can con and is setting up for a con job. Like psychopaths, narcissists view others as but objects, material to exploit for their own aggrandizement…

Narcissists are predators, but many people fail appreciate the meaning of that term, letting it in one ear and out the other...

Being predators puts narcissists in a special class with psychopaths, that class of people who don't wish you well, no matter how friendly their facade — that class from which sexual predators and all other kinds of predators come…

They're regulating, manipulating your reactions. But you aren't like them. Your reactions come from within. So, what are they ultimately regulating and manipulating? Your thoughts. Manipulation is mind control.

Manipulation is a subtle thing. So subtle that we are usually unaware of being manipulated, unless the manipulator blows it and breaks the spell. So, manipulators are putting thoughts into our heads that we think are ours. A very dangerous thing.

Since a narcissist isn't acting on normal human premises, since all he is doing is playing you for the reaction he wants, truth is irrelevant. Truth or lies — it's all the same to him. Whichever works. Usually that's lies.

It would be more correct to say that there is no such thing as truth to a narcissist. Because there is no such thing as truth when playing Pretend. That's why narcissists and psychopaths beat lie detector tests...

Psychopaths are known to get so good at manipulating people that, by the time they're teenagers, they routinely fool and manipulate mental healthcare professionals, judges, prison officials, parole boards, and social workers who know they are psychopaths, are on the lookout for attempts to manipulate them, and should be immune to manipulation.

It isn't a matter of intelligence: it's a matter of practice, experience. This is because most of what transpires in interaction happens too quickly to think it through…

Don't trust an institution or organization to filter out the personality disordered on the road to the top. Indeed, narcissists have great climbing skills!

Narcissists are expert at tearing down whoever is above them on the ladder of success. That's what narcissists do, nonstop, all their lives, because that's what narcissism is. They get very good at it, because it's an aspect of the disease, an aspect that is more a benefit than a curse in society. In fact, they get so good at climbing over those they throw down that they come out smelling like a rose, because nobody even knows who instigated the talk that destroyed that person…

What's more, narcissists have no compunctions about exploiting and tearing down their betters, because they have no empathy, no conscience. Another big advantage over normal people.

Nor do they have any compunctions about "getting tough" with their subordinates and firing people. They love doing that, because that's what narcissists do — vaunt themselves on others by bullying whomever they can. It's an aspect of the disease. And it's an asset, because it makes them look like good "tough" managers of personnel.

Narcissists are shameless but subtle self-promoters, expert at carving out the perfect (false) image for themselves. Yet another big advantage.

In fact, being for looks only, they see no reason to work for credit or credentials, so they just fake it whenever possible. They may cheat their way through college or buy a degree from a diploma mill or fake their credentials altogether. On the job they steal the credit that belongs to others…

I should think that a narcissist would not be at home in a smart and sophisticated big business with competent personnel managers, one that measures job performance accurately by objective metrics. Most of the narcissists I have known were in the "helping professions," particularly education. Little real accountability and abundant means to fake it.

Among those who were teachers that I have known or heard about, I noticed a peculiar similarity. They avoided accepting any position that would set them up as the responsible party and a target for criticism. For example, they would come up with excuses for why they could not fill a vacant head-coaching position. They preferred to call the shots from behind the scenes as a "humble" assistant coach, who manipulated the head coach.

…This is why narcissistic bullies in the workplace are a particular problem in private nonprofit institutions.

…In fact, the "helping professions" in general attract more than their share of narcissists: little real accountability and plenty of ways to fake it. All you have to do is fool people: you never have to prove that you are doing a good job.

…No one wants others to see them as bad. Moreover, that's the kiss of death to a predator, because it's like a repellant that warns potential prey to mistrust and stay away from him. Indeed, if you were a malignant narcissist, what would be your biggest fear?

Exposure, right? You're like a vampire to whom the light of day is lethal. Your greatest fear would be the same as that of any hungry, stalking predator — exposure.

You'd live in constant fear of people finding out that you're a wolf beneath your sheep's clothing, that you just use people, that you want to take away anything they have that you don't have, and that you will vandalize their image to improve your own. You'd live in constant fear of them learning the shocking truth about your past exploits, about the many you've used and trashed in your wake. You'd live in constant fear of people discovering, not just what you do for a moral living, but whom you do it to.

Since narcissists are such expert con artists, how do you spot them? …Here are eight red flags:

• puts on a conspicuous display of goodness and kindness
• damages the images of most others
• has a history of past upheavals
• hated for mysterious reasons by people close to them
• exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior — backwards reactions to things
• is a control freak, trampling privacy/boundaries
• is extremely self-absorbed
• has a hostile reaction to attention and credit given others

…If you know a narcissist's history, you will usually see a track record of mysterious upheavals in his life. He suddenly up and moves to a different school or job in a different town every few years.
That is, every time the good angels in his Pathological Space start comparing notes, get his number, and become enraged.
From: What Makes Narcissists Tick - Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)


Anonymous said...

Do you feel dirty?
Do you feel guilty and ashamed of the bullying and abuse you suffered? Do you feel responsible for it, a collaborator in the dysfunction around you at work? The bully is a master of coercion and manipupulation of whatever responses they elicit - you may feel they "know things" about you, when all they really know is your reaction to their stimulus - but you did react, of course. How would you feel if Hitler praised your work? That's the bully's strength, set out very well in Biderman's stages of coercion (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/hr/ohs/occstress/psychabuse/biderman.html).
If you re-examine these guilty feelings and the bullying events, you will find an objective reality quite a different world in which you did not collude.

Anonymous said...

That's my bully!

It is so gracious and kind... so manipulative...s/he has destroyed so much... brought down an entire edifice... while the silent witnesses have watched... mesmerised by the bully's skills... discussing issues of 'social justice' at conferences...

I dared to say 'This must stop'...

Silence and denial... the air that a bullying culture
breathes and the water that it drinks (JFO website)

Roger Kline's world of policies is a start... a step in the right direction...

Join us on the journey Roger - we need all the help we can get...

Anonymous said...

Yes! Too many truths in this to deny...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post.

This toxic behavior is endemic in our institutions - academic and otherwise.

I believe it is important for us to recognize it and respond to it, overcome it, and this is important for ourselves and society at large.

I want to assemble tools for learning effectively with it.

Scott McKinney
Oak Ridge, TN
sam239 () cornell () edu

Anonymous said...

It is sad this is true in our academic institutions. I have been the focus of a "witch hunt" by a narcissistic bully Professor, Section Head. However, the professor worked with the Department Head and they both harassed, bullied, intimidated, coerced and threaten me as a student (Returning student after college then homeschooling 2 children and returning to school for the sake of learning). They have done these thing to me and forcibly made me withdraw. I have gone to the Dean, Provost and even the Senior VP of Academic Affairs. The whole academic side has ganged up and served me up to the disciplinary committee because the narcissistic bully and her "witch hunt" has me under the microscope.
How do you fight the system? Where to go from here?
Sad that freedom of opinion in the educational process is really not free.

Anonymous said...

Remember that when a narcissist (a true NPD) invokes a smear campaign on you they are doing so out of envy, as anyone more accomplished threatens their ego. They also have the more realistic fear that you could actually expose them. Their smear campaign is therefor an ego-boost, a smoke-screen, and a pre-emptive strike against you (which also serves to discredit anything you might say against them in the future).

If you want to fight it, then try to look past that smoke-screen and find out what they are really hiding. Work on exposing that!

Sadly, if their smear campaign is working you may have to resign just to control their damage. They may have built a large army of "flying monkeys" and "useful idiots" to do their bidding. (This was my experience). But one can always rebuild and fight another day.

In my case, when finally realising to look past the smoke screen (i.e. the accusations levelled at me), I discovered my narcissist had absolutely no professional experience, and the theory he was selling his students was just hot-air. I also dug up his thesis and found it was total garbage too - void of logic and not at all beneficial to our profession, nor academia. I realised at this point that the guy was an intellectual fraud, who had somehow faked and charmed his way into academia, and that everything made up against me was just to prevent exposure of this!

To summarize, my advice is to avoid playing his game of defending your reputation. This is his intended distraction, and he has usually built an army of "flying monkeys" and "useful idiots" to pursue this relentless goal against you. Instead, target something he can't defend.

Anonymous said...

Having 'got out' I offer this handy checklist to others, if your manager or colleague matches five or over- get the hell out as soon as possible. 'Keeping your head down' is impossible, the NP Disordered person will attack you as a show of strength, if you do anything that attracts praise, they will begin a sustained attack that will not stop.
My colleague matched them all. And demonstrated at least six of them in the course of an external investigation......

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following  symptoms:
▪ Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
▪ Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
▪ Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
▪ Requires excessive admiration
▪ Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
▪ Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
▪ Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
▪ Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
▪ Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

smithendy@gmail.com said...

Thank you for this great article, which you have published on your site. It postwas very nice from your side to do this job. I really appreciate your time and your efforts. Thank you again.