Unmasking the Narcissistic Personality

Narcissists, especially those who are very successful in the social and business worlds, wear many masks that are highly appealing to most people. Often they are bright and attractive and have tremendous charisma and fine social skills. They learn how to “act the part of the Charmer” when they are very young. Often they are chosen by the mother or father as the exalted one in the family. The other siblings are secondary to this special child.

Early on the narcissistic child grows in the fertile atmosphere of extreme self entitlement. There are no rules for him or her. He is given the run of the house. In some cases the mother and father usurp their authority to this little tyrant to whom they bow. I have seen this happen in some family constellations. In other cases the mother molds the budding narcissist as her possession as if she has given birth to a  godlike living being. The mother is psychologically fused with this “perfect” child. She gives all of her attention to this one and not the others. They are unimportant to her and must fend for themselves.

During childhood the little narcissist learns to put on a number of masks that eventually become the false grandiose self. The child knows that h can do anything he wants and will not be corrected or contained. When he doesn’t get what he must have, he throws royal tantrums and then is rewarded for this obnoxious behavior. Some mothers reinforce their golden child’s cruelties to siblings. This is exceedingly hurtful and damaging to siblings who have not been picked for special positive attention and adulation.

Throughout the years the narcissist develops a false self that is put in place of the real self. The real self resides in the unconscious of the narcissist and is revealed through primitive cruel projections that are pushed on to those who get in his way or try to deflate his enormous ego. These unconscious projections are exhibited and ejected on to others through the narcissist’s life. If you find yourself being the target of this venom it is essential that you find ways to deflect and avoid this toxicity. Often the only way to do this is through going no contact with the offending person. This is difficult if it is a family member but often necessary. These outrageous behaviors on the part of the narcissist are very painful and psychologically corrosive to those on the receiving end of this cruel treatment.

Study the narcissistic personality so that you understand how they operate and why.Take time to appreciate your unique individuality, especially if you grew up with a narcissistic mother, father, or sibling or if you are married to a narcissistic spouse. Begin your self healing now and carry this through each day. Put yourself first. This is not selfish but an essential part of the healing process that will lead you to inner peace and deep grounding in your own authenticity and appreciation of yourself.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

 

You Survived A Narcissistic Mother–Be Kind to Yourself

I hear from sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers who went through hell and back as children of narcissistic mothers. They psychologically discarded their kids except when it came to harsh torturous punishments. As adults they remember their mother’s screams thundering through the house:”I never wanted you.” “You are a piece of trash.” “I wish I had aborted you.” “You are to blame for every bad thing that ever happened to me.” “You make my life miserable every day.” When children are very little, some narcissistic mothers tell their children that because they are so bad, they are going to send them away. There is never an explanation to the child of what that means but it strikes terror in the heart of the child that lingers as a morbid threat.

The father in these family constellations is often very weak and terrified himself of his spouse. He becomes a workaholic and in some cases an alcoholic. He is completely unavailable to his children emotionally. Some fathers disappear and leave the home early in their childrens’ lives. They are irresponsible and infantile and flee the scene without ceremony.

Moment to moment these children are living in what can be described as a prison. Their nervous systems are constantly jarred by the NM’s demands and intimidations. Some children learn to tune out mother and they become numb to their own feelings. Others are in a constant state of fear, always waiting for the next catastrophe to arrive. Some children leave the home early and find relatives or friends who will take them in. And others stay in NM’s gulag for the sentence of their childhood and teenage years. Some kids act out through alcohol and drugs and sexual escapades to numb the pain and take them temporarily out of their living nightmare. This is self destructive but not surprising.

As older teenagers and young adults some abuse victims leave the home from hell and make efforts to forge their own lives. Some of these children pick themselves up and move forward with their education and careers. On the surface some are successful but inside they carry the painful imprint of their time in the house of desolation with the narcissistic mother. Others have a difficult time functioning in the outside world. Some adult children repeat the childhood pattern by marrying narcissistic spouses who psychologically incarcerate them.

Blame and shame are often the legacies of having a narcissistic mother as well as residual feelings of anxiety and depression. First—don’t blame yourself. You didn’t ask to be born to a narcissistic mother. It happened and it is horrible but don’t take this upon yourself. Focus your attention on a deep appreciation of who you really are and that you did everything to survive and achieved something great and very difficult.  Learn to be kind to yourself. This begins with self care. Acknowledge the wonderful unique person you are. Take time with the basics—good sleep, healthy eating, exercise in a form that works for you. Give yourself time each day to be quiet and uninterrupted where you can meditate, do basic yoga poses with emphasis on breathing through the nose which calms the nervous system. Writing what you are feeling and thinking privately offers many a source of freedom. Listening to music and allowing its beauty to become internalized inside is a source of healing. Some adult children find that excellent psychotherapy can help them work through many of the residual issues. If you decide psychotherapy is a possibility, I recommend that you interview several of them. I have found that there are fine therapists but there are others who are narcissistic and out for the money motive and making you dependent on them for that purpose.

Use your creative gifts–You have them. Be receptive to knowing what they are. Above all, use your intuition all of the time. It tells us the truth and is a companion throughout every moment of our lives.

I hold a special place in my heart for children of narcissistic mothers. I stand with you always.

The following comment is one I just received from a wonderful man, a great survivor of a narcissistic mother. I have his permission to share his life story with you:

My mother is a Covert narcissist. She wears the mask of the do gooder, the angel of mercy, the saint…the community praises and raises her to Sainthood, yet I know the truth. I was the golden child, but never a narcissist. The golden child is chosen as the one who is lavished upon, shown off to friends and family as the smartest, brightest, most attractive. She groomed me to be the best at everything I did yet never for my sake. It was all done for her, so she can say “look at my son, look what he can do, look at how much he knows!” Everything I did, whether it was winning at the swim meets, or running faster than anyone, and specifically in my case, being the most intelligent, was for her. I was quizzed everywhere we went since i was 2. And I reveled in it. This all began to change when I reached puberty. I began the natural rebelling state of pubescent boy. But she wouldn’t have it. She knew she was losing control so she tightened her grip. She became hateful, yelling and screaming. Emasculating me at every chance she could. My father was always working and when around, had no control because he was a victim of this Narcissist, as well. She had won, my puberty was the worst time of my life. I had learned to fear woman, mistrust them. I was looking for affection everywhere I could and a boy my age who had been molested himself, molested me. As deeply shameful as it was, it was still attention and in my twisted mind, affection. I spent 35 yrs. never knowing a woman, always befriending them, but terrified of letting them in. I didn’t think I was gay, but I was a tall, attractive person who spoke well on many subjects and I found friendship and attention in the gay community. I never had a sex with these men, but always went back to the first one who molested me. Throughout my life I used drugs and alcohol to medicate myself and to make it easier to be with this person and not feel the pain and confusion my mother caused. The thing is, I never consciously knew any of this. I had pushed it so far down I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And everytime I’d have contact with my mother, she knew exactly what to say to pull me back in and push me further down. I hated her, but wasn’t allowed to hate her. She is a master manipulator and confuser to such a degree that I didn’t know up from down, left from right. And she reveled in it. I knew something was wrong, but was never allowed to question her, or anything she did. I was hers. At the age of 40 I quit all drugs and alcohol cold turkey. I went through severe withdrawals. At one point I thought I had cancer. I told my mother this and she didn’t say a word. A month later, after my mind was clearing up I told her I didn’t have cancer. She screamed at me “I was going to take care of you while you died, how dare you take that away from me!” Pretty sick. But during my withdrawal, I was also withdrawing from my mother. I began to gain a strength I didn’t know I had. I started fighting back, and with every step forward I took, the less power over me she had. This was and still is a very long process. Today I don’t talk to my mother. There’s no use. She’ll twist whatever I say into something else, she’ll try to manipulate. What I’ve finally learned is that nothing I do, or say is going to help her make changes. So I finally said no more! And with that, my life is changing everyday for the better. I would never have known any of this if it weren’t for finding Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi’s Site. I would have gone to an early grave, which would have been satisfying to my mother because she then would have won. As sick as that sounds, it’s how these people are. My deepest and most sincerest thank you, Dr. Martini-Lewis, you literally have changed my life!

Doug

Narcissistic Brother Intimidates His Siblings

Having a narcissistic brother in your family is exceedingly painful and frightening. There is no way of controlling him. If he is the Golden Boy,mom and/or dad view him as perfect and make no effort to create psychological boundaries that must not be crossed with his siblings. He has been chosen for a variety of reasons: he is very attractive, bright, confident, even cocky, has athletic skills and is socially adept. The parents who are often narcissistic themselves and  have found the perfect son who reflects them and enhances their external image.

He is not taught to respect his brothers and sisters, to be kind, to learn how to be empathic.  The narcissistic brother rules the household by intimidating his siblings. He strikes fear in them, goads them, laughs at them, humiliates them.  Some narcissistic brothers are monstrous. In public they can win anyone over. They know how to make people like them. It is one of their well honed skills that they use to get whatever they want.

I hear and read many life stories of children who grew up dealing with narcissistic golden boy brothers. Some kids hide and stay away from the house as much as possible. Others literally find a place in the house where they will not be discovered. These children are always frightened, wondering when this monster will appear and terrorize them. Children who grow up in these households are in a state of fight or flight much of the time. They cannot relax. They don’t feel safe or secure. In some instances the siblings create alliances to protect one another.

Some children learn to create entire worlds with their imaginations and to tune out the ugliness of their narcissistic family members. These kids learn early that they must go it alone to survive. They call upon all of their resources and strengths to get through each day. Many children leave these homes early to escape the wrath of the narcissistic brother and their enabling parents.

I have great respect for the children who must live with these loathsome siblings. They are courageous and inventive. As adults children from these highly dysfunctional families benefit from high quality psychotherapy to work through the core issues of growing up in a constant unprotected psychological war zone.

Don’t wait for your narcissistic brother to “get his” as they say. They best way is to create your own life and to be proud of yourself as an individual of integrity with many gifts.

 

Narcissistic Spouses–Go into Training for the Divorce Wars

I know several people who have trained for and run marathons. This is a tough, disciplined process that takes many hours and hard grinding work. The goal is incredible–over 26 miles of running–one footfall after another. I have seen great runners reach the wall and writhe in agony.

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Let Go of the Hurt the Narcissist Has Caused You

Narcissists are very cruel beings. I am discovering endless varieties of their horrid treacheries all the time. It is incredible that they continue to wreck havoc in the lives that they touch and in some cases, destroy. Their projections are meant to be mortal, kicking the air out of your spirit, making you doubt yourself or psychologically throwing you into deep humiliation.

Narcissists are masters of total control over others at all times. Whether they are in the preliminary stages and intoxicating you with their magnetism or intimidating you with their veiled threats or disposing of you when you are at your lowest ebb, the narcissistic personality is a highly predictable human. You are his/her possession. He will manipulate and mold you into the perfect replica of a living narcissistic supply who will be a perpetual source of adulation, praise, even worship.

Narcissists hurt us deeply when we are unable to identify them and psychologically fuse with them. Some of those who become involved with narcissists continue to return for more punishment, thinking that they can change these individuals or believing that they are the ones to blame for the relationship not working. Over and over again their victims blame themselves and return–each time becoming more distressed and feeling lost, confused and depleted.

Once you know that you are dealing with a narcissist—spouse, mother, father, sibling, etc., do your research and learn everything you can about this personality disorder that is growing exponentially within our population.

Be kind to yourself about your self blame, your returning for more pain, your thinking that there is something the matter with you. Let go of any guilt that you are carrying. You will find your burden lifting.

Begin to take good care of yourself: physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. Sleep, rest, enjoy your own company and that of friends who are empathic and understanding and who know how to listen and to give and receive.

Think about your many gifts–those that you know about and others that have remained in the background while the narcissist took center stage and stood in your light.

Feel your individual power—your healthy narcissism—a deep respect for yourself. Be grateful for the life that you have and the one that is ahead of you. Cry when you need to–without shame or holding back. Sing when you feel the tunes coming through you–write freely without editing—go inside the music that you love and sing tunes that you create on the spot. Do this and so much more–Use your imagination–let it fly!

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

 

Sadistic Narcissistic Husbands and Wives Take Revenge during Divorce

I know of a number of cases, especially during custody disputes when the narcissistic husband (or wife) turns sadistic and gains pleasure and narcissistic supplies by threatening to take your children away from you. In some instances he/she succeeds because he/she has the financial resources and the charm and raw confidence to persuade mediators and judges that he is the better parent. This man or woman doesn’t give a damn about the welfare of your children. He is out for revenge because he gets pleasure from watching you suffer. The narcissist builds a strong case in the role of the “good mother” or “good father.”” He/she spreads lies about you and may even turn your family members against you.

Arm yourself with as much in-depth information as you can about the narcissistic personality. Make sure that you have a very savvy attorney who specializes in family law and is unintimidated going up against the narcissist. He or she will have hired a barracuda of a lawyer who is out to win despite any human cost.

Go into battle fully armed with knowledge about the narcissistic personality. You need to know this person a whole lot better than they know themselves. Take good care of yourself during this process and beyond it. Keep your eye on the prize—getting your life back after the narcissist. Lead the life that you have always deserved—filled with warmth, authenticity, the full use of your creative gifts and the freeing of your spontaneous spirit.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Primitive Projections of Narcissists Inflict Pain and Harm

I am frequently reminded that narcissists are projecting their psychological venom on to others all the time. This kind of behavior cannot be overstated. Deep down in the unconscious, the narcissist is filled with self loathing and an intolerable emptiness.

Churning with self hatred, he or she ejects it out on to others, especially those close to him–spouses, children, siblings, co-workers, acquaintances. A projection is a defense mechanism, an unconscious process that the narcissist  uses to instantaneously get rid of aggressive, intolerable and threatening feelings and impulses on to another person.

This incoming fire can be completely unexpected and that is a vital part of why the power punch can lay you flat. There are times when you know that the narcissist is in a particular mood and know to steer clear. Or you have intuitive messages to keep your distance. But are other times, when there is no warning and these are the toughest to take.

Not long ago I was the recipient of a psychological punch (a primitive projection) to the gut from an acquaintance. The sky was blue and clear in my world with this person  at the time. We were conversing and I felt that it was going well. Someone else was wanting his attention. I made mental notes of this a couple of times but waved it off. That was my oversight. Suddenly—incoming fire hell missiles. He delivered verbal mortal blows designed to knock me out and put me away. I was shocked and at first had to review his primitive message which translated was: “I hate you. Get the hell out of my life now! ” His seething rage and annihilating intent shot into me so fast that I spun inside. I made a quick appraisal and decided that making any kind of retort was useless. For my welfare I left the scene. I think this was a good self care move as I look back. This guy would never understand my point of view. He had a perspective ally beside him. The best action was immediately gaining Distance Away from the Toxicity. I was still reeling. I got into my car and felt like hell but began to think  about what had just happened and what it meant.

This event and there have been many by others, gives me the opportunity to acknowledge again the horror that you go through with narcissistic spouses, what you have experienced and still do with narcissistic mothers, fathers and siblings.

Learn all that you can about the true nature of the narcissistic personality–the character disorder of our time.

Take good care of yourself. When you are ensnared by one of these horrid projections, give yourself credit for identifying what it is–it is not coming from you–do not blame yourself–this is the putrid message coming from the unconscious of a narcissistic personality. Celebrate your victories. Keep your psychological, emotional and physical distance from these individuals when and if you possibly can. Maintain good boundaries from this venom machine.

Spend time with people who are more self aware, are not as subject to projections and who admit when they have done this and take them back. Recognize that you are growing, a wonderful living work in progress. Pay close attention to your intuition. Seek your dreams and know that you can fulfill them.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Stand for Yourself to Heal from the Narcissist in Your Life

Whether it is your narcissistic mother, narcissistic father, narcissistic spouse, narcissistic sister or narcissistic brother or an entire narcissistic family, you have been through Hell with this dreadful life experience. As a young child you endured too much and too little at the same time. There was no emotional and psychological nurturing, no one to wipe your tears so you learned not to cry or laugh or even feel. You internalized what was real  and alive inside of you so that you would not be punished and shamed and humiliated even more.

You are still licking your wounds and finding other crevices of open sore memory traces of emotional and psychological pain.

There are times now after your hard fought inner work on your psyche and soul when you perceive and appreciate what you survived. Be kind to that small child inside of you. Give him or her comfort and reassurance and validation. What an individual you are! Healing ourselves is a life process.

Practice self care–You deserve to sleep quietly at night, rest when you are weary, write without editing, freely using your unconscious without effort but ease, digest your dreams from the unconscious, meditate or pray, use your creative juices and let them flow with interruption, feel the cool air coming through your nostrils on the inhalation and the warmed air from you body at the exhalation–notice that you feel calmer.

You deserve to lead life in the full color spectrum of your psyche and soul. With Love to You.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

 

Covert Narcissists Induce Shame in their Spouses

The covert narcissist is the trickiest and most subtle individual to identify as a personality disorder. He or she appears to be impeccable in facade, character, integrity, professional status, values, morals–the list is a long one. You have met many covert narcissists without knowing this. Don’t blame yourself or expect that you would recognize these individuals. It takes a lot of research and deep observation to identify one of these hidden in plain sight toxic people. Many of them wear the robes of holiness and goodness. They are beyond reproach. Often they hold unquestioned authority as members in high standing of spiritual movements or religious organizations. This makes it very difficult to question the true content of their characters. Those who are very powerful and influential covert narcissists in the world are also viewed as “heroes” in many people’s eyes. Don’t be fooled by the titles, degrees, professional training, adulation, prizes, medals, public praise that others receive. For the covert narcissist this is a perfect setting for him or her to get the ego supplies that are so desperately needed to fulfill an extreme sense of self entitlement.

Being married to a covert narcissist the spouse is continually subjected to injected  feelings of shame. They might even use the old phrase: “You should be ashamed of yourself.” You say to yourself–”For what?” But beneath the surface you feel on a visceral level that you are wrong and that there is something intrinsically the matter with you. This is a horrible trap. You have no reason to feel shame and to be emotionally burdened by a dreadful lie. The narcissist is bullying you with this powerful cruel projection to control you and make your life a living hell. Those who have a conscience feel shame from time to time. The narcissist does not have a conscience and is shameless. How absurd when you look at this rationally and understand that you have been terribly wronged and treated with complete disrespect.

There is a time of decision when being married to a covert narcissist is no longer an option. The loud siren is going off. “Leave, let go and lead your own life!” Study the narcissistic personality in-depth so that you understand their true nature, including that one who is hiding behind “goodness and “perfection”–the covert lying in the weeds ready to ambush you. Learn to appreciate your true nature, to become more entitled to true respect, to recognize your many creative gifts, to become more acquainted and comfortable with your true self–the authenticity of you as an individual.

 

Narcissists–Their Bottomless Well of Emptiness

“In narcissistic personalities the experience of emptiness is most intense and almost constant…” (Otto Kernberg, Md. clinical expert on the narcissistic personality).  “The narcissist’s experience of emotional emptiness is beyond sadness.  It is a severe and intractable wounding, a pain…savage and deep. The psychological (inner) landscape of the narcissist is bleak.” (From: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life). This is the narcissist’s unconscious experience of himself. (I use the male pronoun “he” in this post to represent male and female narcissists).   As a result the narcissist is a very restless human being, always surveying his external environment for narcissistic supplies: adulation, praise, self indulgence, the company of highly attractive men and women, sexual escapes, the pursuit of material possessions, seeking raw power to control others, manipulation of those whom they experience as competitors.

“The successful narcissist creates an intricate system of positive feedback in the form of friends, associates, partners, spouses—who perpetually fulfill his endless needs.” (From Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life) The narcissist is incapable of having a real relationship with another person. He doesn’t have a relationship with himself. Everything in his life is externalized and the most prized possession of all is the elaborate golden image that he creates and perpetuates all of his life.

Beneath the surface, in the unconscious, molten rage is bubbling. This fury is projected on to others, especially spouses, children, siblings, business associates, etc. The narcissist cannot perceive that this rage is completely inappropriate and harmful to others. He simply spits it out or vomits it forth in a projectile that is highly disturbing and hurtful to its recipients. This is the narcissist’s extreme self loathing in action. The narcissist cannot own any of these unconscious feelings and therefore they are ejected out on to his victims.

When you learn about the dynamics of the narcissistic personality, you have gained knowledge and power. Now you understand what makes them tick, why they react with such venom and why they are constantly searching for narcissistic supplies to fill up the bottomless pit of their psychological emptiness. Learn to detach from the narcissist. Keep your physical distance (if possible since they are very unpleasant to say the least) and maintain your psychological boundaries. You are entitled to respect. You are a separate human being who has intrinsic value, integrity  and dignity.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.