People who struggle with addiction have become close to my heart. I’ve watched my mother, my husband, and countless patients struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Whether it’s drugs and alcohol, food binging, food restriction, gambling, video games, fame, money, sex, pornograhy, attention, social media, etc. its all the addiction. It’s all relying on an outside substance to alter the way you feel in a moment of time. What’s different are the consequences to each addition. If your “drug of choice” is illegal drugs, prepare to go to jail or worse. If its food, you likely won’t go to jail, but your body will hate you and you will hate your body. If its adult porn, you might not go to jail, but your relationships will suffer immensely. The reality is that addiction is hungry. Soon adult porn isn’t enough, we need to watch something even more perverse to satisfy an urge that once was satisfied by “vanilla” porn. Addiction is hungry. You can feed it, but it always needs more. That gram of IV heroin that once got you high and feeling “good” is now not enough. Now you need two grams. That line of coke that got you buzzed will become hours or days of use just trying to get back to that first high you found pleasure in.
Many of the patients I see have tried detox, rehabs, 12 step programs AA/NA. But here they are still struggling with addiction. We now understand that when we start using drugs (food or porn) as a teenager or young adult we are hard wiring our brain to rely on outside substances to cope. We are robbing our brain to learn how to process emotion, hardships, loneliness, guilt and shame, love, etc.
How Bad Do You Want It?
I know a patient is serious about being sober when they are demonstrating CHANGE. I’ll never forget when I was little I asked my Dad how he stopped smoking. He said, “I changed everything, I stopped hanging out with people who smoke, I stopped going to bars where smoking is permitting, NO MATTER WHAT”. He changed everything for one year. After that year, smoking was repulsive to him. He smelled the smells, he saw the yellow teeth, he witnessed the aging effects. For many of you a year won’t be enough. It might take 20 years of change. It might take a lifetime.
People Places Things
I love the 12 step program. NA and AA have educated us on the medical model of addiction. They tell us our drug of choice is the one substance we are allergic to. Working at a Children’s Home I saw many children who suffered from upper respiratory issues, runny noses, chronic congestion, etc. What is the ONE thing they craved? Cheese and milk. The one substance that exacerbates inflammation of mucus membranes and keeps us sick. The substance who’s caseins trigger the same part of the brain that heroin does. The Medical Model of Addiction says we crave the very thing we are allergic to. Most binge eaters will tell you they don’t binge on carrots. They binge on sugar and carbs. The very thing that their body hates, the very thing that keeps them sick.
Each of us are predisposed to addiction but the substance that we are allergic to is different for all of us. One person might try heroin and not get addicted. Another person might try it once and their entire life now revolves around opiates. Someone else might be compelled to try to fix or control others (codependency-guilty! All therapists are co-dependents in recovery ;-). Unfortunately when we try highly addictive substances like stimulants, opiates, or benzodiazepines more than once, many of us will now be on the same playing field. Predisposed or not, there you’ll be, a slave to the substance that overtakes your life. When a doctor wants to give you benzos or opiates, think long and hard about what could happen. In urgent situations yes, we need temporary bandaids. But beware of the trap. Pain management is not a fix, its a bandaid. Chronic pain sufferers’ who have been on high doses of opiate pain medications start to become a slave to the signals their brains produce. When they try to lower dosages or get off the opiates, their brain creates fake pain just to get the Oxycontin. Anxiety sufferers’ brains will create anxiety just to get that Xanax. Binge eaters’ brains will create hunger to that donut. Substances can make our brain a slave if we allow it.
Every single addict I’ve ever known have one thing in common: Guilt, Shame, and Isolation. Underneath everything else it boils down to those three words: Guilt, Shame, and Loneliness. They don’t like themselves. They feel bad about what they did yesterday. They feel like “bad people”. Another lie that keeps them in addiction. They don’t have the ability to forgive themselves. They don’t have assertiveness skills to get what they want and need. They don’t know how to set boundaries with themselves or others. All of them have at least one parent who was emotionally or physically absent, or who used outside substances themselves.
Its not coincidence that Meth is called “devil’s serum”. Have you ever thought about the spiritual factor in addiction? The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Weather you believe in a spiritual realm or not, it won’t stop evil from destroying you IF you let it. What better way to keep you from experiencing freedom, sobriety, community, family, friendship, success than to keep you inebriated? When we are on substances (especially stimulants) our soul is kept prisoner, we have no ability to have true empathy for others, we have no conscience. We are capable of stealing, lying, anything to get the substance. Most importantly we are not capable of loving ourselves. Ask any addict what is the ONE thing they are missing? Love for self.
The ONLY Permanent Solution, Cure, and Way Out
God. Bow your knee, give your heart and your life to Christ. Experience His grace and His deliverance. Let Him walk you through the consequences.
Yes many Christians, Jews, Protestant and Catholic, etc experience addiction. They have bowed their knee and given their life to Christ. So why aren’t they free?
Released From Bondage
It isn’t enough to be complacent. It isn’t enough to go to work, go to church, and come home. It isn’t enough to make your NA/AA meeting. When we are wanting LONG TERM FOREVER SOBRIETY we must be LIVING OUR PURPOSE. Being saved and accepting Christ as your savior is enough for salvation, but not enough for breaking bondage in the cycle of addiction. We can’t stop at the minimum.
Every person, every animal, every plant was created for a purpose. Everything that has breath is created to praise the Lord. Animals and plants do this naturally. The sky and sea proclaim His name naturally. But God has given people free will. He will never force us to love Him. What is your purpose? What spiritual gifts have you been born with? Those are not gifts to keep to yourself, those are gifts that must be given away to help others.
Finding your purpose is a journey. We must ask God to help us find that. While we are waiting there are a few things we can do:
- Get out of isolation. Do you have people in your life who know your struggles? Who keeps you accountable? Are you surrounding yourself with people you want to be like? Get into community. This is not your “party friends,” these are the people who love you on a deeper level, the people who ask “how are you” and really mean it. Find a church that offers “home groups” or “community groups”.
- Faith comes by HEARING THE WORD. It can’t just be on Sunday! Every single day find a way to HEAR THE WORD. There are many ways to hear the word: read the bible, listen to a sermon (see below for recommendations. Beware of counterfeits), do a daily devotion, go to church, etc.
- Focus OFF self. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels, call a friend and ask how their life is going, visit the elderly in nursing homes, walk the dogs at the pound, work in a church nursery. One thing I promise you is if you take time for others, YOU WILL CHANGE, and your entire perspective will change.
- Share your story with others. This is your testimony. Share what you have been through. Someone else might relate to you and find comfort that they are not alone. Your story might encourage someone else to do something different to GET something different.
Many of you have known your purpose since childhood. Others of us must start walking and the path will be shown to us.
For many addicts, part of their purpose is sharing what worked for them. Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDCs) are required to be former addicts. Why? Because all the text books in the world couldn’t give you the knowledge of experience. Your experience is preparing you for your purpose. How can your past hurt not be in vain? How can it be for something that helps others? Look at your life struggles and you will start to see your purpose. Your purpose will be something you are immensely passionate about. It will be something that brings abundant JOY. It will be something that helps others in some way. It will be something that brings success to your life.
Release From Bondage
As AA and NA remind us, God gives us grace for TODAY. Not next week, not tomorrow. FOR TODAY. Resist evil and temptation. Relinquish secrets daily. Flee the enemy. Who is the enemy? Anyone or anything including yourself who does not want your sobriety to be the NUMBER ONE priority.
Relapse And Its Meaning
Relapse is simply a reminder that you are not on track with your purpose. You have two choices: 1. Pull your pants back up, reach out to anyone and everyone until you get help, and make up your mind that one mess up doesn’t have to mean the whole thing is destroyed. This doesn’t have to be your reality. 2. Do what most addicts do and say to yourself, “I messed up, I might as well keep using”. A one relapse becomes weeks, month or years of sickness. NO. A ‘lapse doesn’t have to become a full blown, life taking, marriage destroying, loss of job, in jail, CPS has your kids, depressed occurrence. There’s the LIE! A ‘lapse can simply be a tap on the shoulder. HEY you are going the wrong way! Come back to the light of Grace. Don’t listen to the lies “I’ll always be an addict, I’m a bad person, I’m a piece of shit, I’m unloveable”. You are sons and daughters of the King if you have given your life to Christ. You have been called to a specific PURPOSE. You are here for a reason. What is it???????????? Are you living it despite circumstances? If your purpose is to preach and you are in jail, you better preach to to your cellmates! Get up on the jail cafeteria tables and scream it! If your purpose is to encourage others but you are depressed, get your focus off YOU and find someone who needs encouragement more than you do. If your gift is baking pies but your oven is broken, find a friends oven, do what you have to do! Don’t let anything get in your way. If your purpose is to be a great mother but you’re in an abusive relationship, GET OUT. If your purpose is to be a great spouse but there is fighting and hatred in your house, seek healing! Don’t stop until you get a breakthrough.
God’s impact equals change, but you have to want it. It’s through brokenness we receive a breakthrough!
- Hear the Word: BIBLE APP. https://www.youversion.com/apps. Download the app, click on Plans, click on Discover, pick a plan.
- Hear the Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8snM5ilpa0o (Toni Evans), http://www.tdjakes.org (TD Jakes), http://www.watermark.org/resources/messages (Look for Jonathan Pokluda and Todd Wagner). BEWARE of counterfeits. Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker, not a preacher. Theres a difference between a feel good “name it and claim it, blab it and grab it” sermon and a biblically sound based sermon.
- www.intherooms.com Get access to live AA/NA/Overeaters Anonymous/CoDa etc. Take an online meeting!
- Find an in person meeting https://www.addiction.com/meetingfinder/
- Issues too big for you and your sponsor to handle? Find a therapist: www.psychologytoday.com. Type in your zip code, insurance, preferred criteria (do you want a male? a female? Religious preference?).
I’m not talking about your friend who takes a thousand selfies, or your personal trainer who has spent a thousand hours in the gym to achieve those perfectly chiseled abs. Although any of the above might have narcissistic traits, I’m talking about the real deal: Cluster B, specifically Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders. They look like people, they have skin on, and often hold jobs and hobbies. Here’s the kicker…the lights are on but nobody’s home. The soul is lost underneath their protector parts that hurt others. They could be quite intelligent, but there’s no conscience, no moral compass (for themselves not for you), their soul is gone (and it would take a literal act of God to find it). Think the movie The Terminator. He looks like a person, talks somewhat like a person, but there’s no emotion. A “cyborg” robot with no empathy, no ability to feel anything but anger, jealousy, and sorry for himself. And sure there are female narcissists, too, although more rare. Psychology Today Magazine says narcissists only make up 1% of the population, but others might argue it could be 6-12% of the population.
The purpose of this entry is to educate you on what a true Narcissist/Sociopath/Antisocial/Psychopath is and to learn about the effects of Narcissistic Victims Syndrome (the PTSD of Narcissist Victims).
DSM-V is the diagnostic bible that shrinks and doctors use to slap a label on someone. It’s important to know that one can have TRAITS of narcissism (or any other personality disorder) but not be a full blown Narcissist. NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is marked by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), the need for admiration, and lack of empathy. The diagnosis requires five of the following:
- 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 he/she is special and unique. i.e. can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people.
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement (i.e. unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with expectations. (note this may look so similarly to your addict loved one but more on addiction and narcissism later).
- Is interpersonally exploitative i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings or needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Has arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Again, its important to note someone may have traits of the above, but if they don’t have at least five of them, they’re not a diagnosable narcissist. However! If someone has three or four of the above traits, they may not be a diagnosable narcissist but I sure wouldn’t want to live with them, marry them, or be their business partner!
Another tool, perhaps one of the most authoritative tools for diagnosing psychopathy, is the Psychopathy Checklist Revised, developed by Dr. Robert Hare. It includes 20 items, and evaluators decide the degree to which each item describes an individual–as a good match, partially, or not at all.
Hare Psychopathy Checklist Revised
- Gibness/superficial charm.
- Grandiose sense of self worth
- Need for stimulation/proneness to bordom
- Pathological Lying
- Lack of remorse of guilt
- Shallow affect (emotions)
- Callous/lack of empathy
- Parasitic lifestyle
- Poor behavior controls
- Promiscuous sexual behavior
- Early behavioral problems
- Lack of realistic long term goals
- Failure to accept responsibility of actions
- Many short term marital relationships
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Revocation of conditional release
- Criminal versatility
This brings us to Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). AKA Psychopaths. DSM-V says APD is marked by a pervasive pattern or disregard for or violation of others’ rights and must include at least three of the following:
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
- Deceitfulness as indicated by lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
- Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
- Irritability and aggressiveness as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
- Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
- Consistent irresponsibility , as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work, behavior or honor financial obligations.
- Lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
SO, similarities of Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders are: feeling justified in hurting others, using others for personal gain, spontaneous or impulsive behaviors, and lack of remorse or empathy. Either could be violent but a narcissist might react when an Antisocial might plan it carefully. Narcissists might not feed your dog if you piss them off. Antisocials could torture or kill your dog when you aren’t looking. Both could have a criminal history, for example stealing, however Antisocials are more likely to have a pattern of breaking the law.. Narcissists want to perpetuate the facade that they are powerful, likable, smart, etc. Antisocials don’t care if you like them or not.
Ok back to NPD. How to recognize a Narcissist? All the studying in the world won’t prepare you to deal with a Narcissist. You must experience it for yourself to really even begin to understand the harm they are capable of. What stands out to me in my personal and professional experience are the following:
- Bizzare affect. Expressionless face, they don’t laugh at jokes (unless its one they’ve told), inappropriate emotional responses to stimuli. They either have a smug smile or completely blank face.
- Lacks empathy. This is so difficult to recognize in the beginning because at first their objective is to lure your in and they do that with charm and attention. This is the love bombing stage. Once they’ve got you in their web, you’re overlooked like last seasons hand bags.
- They have absolutely no regard for boundaries. They push all the boundaries. They will move in fast and get you to engage in physical intimacy ASAP. They call, you don’t answer. A ‘normal’ person might leave a message and wait for you to call back. After all a ‘normal’ person doesn’t want to appear desperate or crazy. A narcissist could care less if they appear desperate or crazy. They will call you 25 times until you answer. And then you think, “wow this person must really like me, all these texts and phone calls, and they want to spend all their time with me!”. But nope, they are love bombing you. This is red flag #1.
- Headline knowledge. You’re trying to have a conversation and they aren’t able to engage with you. They’re spouting off random facts that have absolutely nothing to do with the conversation you are trying to have. e.g. you: “honey I had an awful day at work today.” Narcissist “that building was built in 1975”.
- Odd responses in text messages. Texting is especially difficult for a NPD because remember they don’t know what an appropriate feeling or emotion should be in real life, let alone in a text message. e.g. you “why did you lie to me about sleeping with your ex’s mother? NPD: “you’re hot babe”.
- Speaks about how stupid others are or brags about getting over on people. NPD: “Ok for sure I’ll send the check in the mail right away” (hangs up phone). “What a stupid idiot, he deserves to not get paid for being so gullible and dumb”. Cruel and/or rude to servers, waitstaff, people they feel are “beneath” them.
- History of criminal charges and/or convictions. Usually they will rat themselves out. e.g. “It was a bar fight and I got charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but it was self defense”. “My ex got in my face and she got pushed and I was charged with domestic assault, but she hit me first”. “The company went under and I got charged with fraud, but it wasn’t my fault”. etc. etc.
- History of cheating. Like in every relationship. Remorse? NO.
- The parasitic lifestyle: Trust fund babies, living off of others, conning others for money. Steady work history? Their resume has more gaps than a meth addict’s teeth.
- Uses Triangulation. This is a purposeful form of “splitting” in which the narcissist plays one person against another. He’s assassinating the character of each person to the other. This creates an insecurity and a subconscious need to compete with the opposite end of the triangle. For example, he says a woman is “stalking him and crazy” yet you continually catch him interacting with her. He tells the other woman the same thing about you. You are “stalking him and crazy”. He gets to be the victim with each woman, and each of their reactions of jealousy and insecurity is the epitome of what he craves for his insatiable need for narcissistic supply.
The Victims: Who do Narcissists Target?
Yes there are certain “types” that many Narcissists look for. Someone who is very empathetic, perhaps even empathic, someone who is attractive or wealthy, and blondes really do tend to have more “fun” with Narcissists. The NPD targets a victim who they can easily manipulate (naive, wants to believe the best in others, gives people the benefit of the doubt), and someone who likes to help or fix others. The NPD goes after what they need at the moment. If it’s money, they’re going after someone who’s well off. If they just need attention/supply/accolades they’re going after the most attractive naive person they can find. The NPD preys on the vulnerable: single moms, young women, divorcees, ultra empathetic, etc. The Codependent care taker.
What The Target Is Feeling:
Stage 1. Love Bombing. The guy is inendating you with phone calls, texts, flowers, presents, and wants to spend all his time with you. The target feels liked, loved, adored, pursued. After all no one would spend all this time pursuing me if he didn’t REALLY like me, right? Wrong, Warning! You are being lured into a trap.
The NPD has a cycle: love bomb, mirror you (oh you go to X Church and Yoga every sunday? So do I!), extrapolate information, play mind games, smear/slander your reputation, retaliate, and finally discard. But notice the very last stage, its REPEAT! Yes they are like roaches, you can’t get rid of them! They ALWAYS COME BACK to screw with your mind some more! And then stage 1, the Love Bombing starts over.
What About Addiction and Narcissism?
Wow this will make your head spin. Is my husband a true Narcissist or just an Addict? When addicts of alcohol or drugs (especially stimulants like methamphetamines) are in active addiction, they can resemble Narcissists. Why? When someone is using substances the soul is gone, empathy is not possible, entitlement reins, and it’s all about ME ME ME! Living with an addict in active addiction is just like living with a psychopath. How can you tell if they are an addict or a Narcissist? When an addict is sober (not for three days, try at least 90 days), they DO have empathy, remorse, guilt and shame. When a Narcissist is sober they still have no empathy or remorse. They’re still cheating on you, lying, and gas lighting you. This is a tricky one to pin point. The best advice is don’t stick around to try to figure it out.
What makes this so difficult is that many Narcissists have co-occuring substance use disorders. And they LOVE to use that excuse! “I had sex with the prostitute because I’m a sex addict and was using drugs. See ? So you can’t really blame me. It wasn’t my fault!”. Another issue is that Narcissists get bored FAST. They need constant new stimuli such as women, sex, porn, drugs and alcohol. They don’t feel so they’re trying desperately to FEEL something, anything! The constant search for stimulus!
What is the world does the narcissist want? One word answer: Supply. The Narcissist must have a constant and abundant supply. What is supply? It is attention in any form, any reaction, NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE. Whether or not you dote on them or curse them out doesn’t really matter to the Narcissist. It’s the fact that you are paying them any mind whatsoever. They are professional button pushers, master manipulates, and will stop at nothing to get a reaction from you. They are above nothing. They will slander you online, smear your good name to friends/family/public, steal your last dollar and pretend to love you all for laughter. All they want to say is “I won, I got over on you, I am smarter than you”. Every single interaction with them is a game. You will NEVER win or beat a Narcissist because they have no soul and you do. You cannot win and more importantly, you will never fully understand the Narcissist because to fully understand is to be one. The only possible way to break free is ABSOLUTELY ZERO CONTACT. That means: no phone calls, no text messages, no emails, no talking to their mistresses/girlfriends/side chicks/family members/friends, no looking at their social media, and for sure not seeing them in any form or fashion. Any form of contact is feeding their Supply. Your ONLY hope is that you stop contact, they don’t get any supply from you, and are forced to look for supply somewhere else.
BUT WHAT IF I HAD CHILDREN WITH A NARCISSIST?
I don’t recommend it, but if you already have children with your narcissist, and If you can’t flee the county and must interact with a NPD there are a few tactics you can use to attempt to get them to leave you be and go elsewhere for their supply:
- No emotion. Absolutely ZERO crying, facial expression, attempts to have conversations, attempts to “show them” how narcissistic they are. You are a brick wall. They could kill your cat and you do not show the least bit of reaction. Don’t let them see you sweat! Any reaction is supply.
- News flash! Not every crisis, text message, or plea for attention needs to be met with response. You can start deciding when, if, or how you do engage with them. As you get stronger in seeking detachment, you might be able to block their number for 4 hours, 12 hours, then days at a time. By deciding to take “breaks” from dealing with their shit, you empower yourself and take a step towards healing. You may or your may not respond to their emails or texts. If you must respond it is a short, void of emotion response that is completely boring. Thus, forcing them to get attention elsewhere.
- The good news is you have been blessed with the most amazing gift, a beautiful child. The bad news is they will use money to make you desperate. They will use your children against you even to the point of psychologically and emotionally abusing them. They will use your “visitation” to engage with you, when really they could case less about seeing their kids. They will insist on being a part of every dental or doctor appointment, and throw a fit when any therapist/mediator/or co facilitator sees whats going on and tries to hold them accountable. That is if they haven’t seduced your therapist/mediator/co facilitator and convinced them that they are wonderful and you are Satan incarnate. NPDs are known to pull the wool over the eyes of trained professionals. Unless your therapist is highly trained in NPD, beware! He’ll have her thinking everything is ALL YOUR FAULT.
Effects of Dealing With A Sociopath: Narcissistic Victims Syndrome:
Narcissistic Victims Syndrome, or NVS for short, which is not a recognized diagnosis in the DSM-V (but should be), is the Post Traumatic Stress response victims have to dealing with someone who is capable of so maliciously mind screwing you to the point that you don’t know what is true and what is false. You don’t know what is real and what is make believe. NPD will have you questioning if the sky is blue. Because he has gas lighted you to the point of making you think you are crazy. Wiki says gas lighting is:
“Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.” Watch the 1944 film Gaslight.
E.g. “No you didn’t see me having sex with the nanny, you are lying and you made that up, it wasn’t me.” You are in identity crisis because they have literally brain washed you into thinking their grandiose delusions could be true. Their goal is to make you believe you are the bad person. You are the one that left them. You are the one that screwed them over, cheated on them, stole from them. Never mind he looked directly into your eyes without blinking and said he wasn’t with anyone when her car was outside his house. If he can make you and everyone else believe that your demise is all YOUR fault, he gets to be the GOOD GUY. See how that works? NVS symptoms: hyper vigilance (because you know he could show up at your home at any moment), panic/anxiety issues, deep depression (because you’ve been conned into thinking this was a real relationship and now you are starting to see it was all smoke and mirrors).
Why It So Hard to Get Out?
Addiction. When we are in a relationship where we never know what’s coming, we’re walking on egg shells, and we’ve been brain washed. We become stuck. The Narcissist becomes our drug. Every time there is a gas light, a fight, a disorientation, a mind screw, our bodies release adrenaline. This release of adrenaline becomes just as addictive as a drug. Rosenburg, author of The Human Magnet Syndrome, says the only way a Narcissist can do harm is if the person stays in the relationship, and the only person who stays is a Codependent. He says the Narcissist and Codependent are attracted to each other like magnets.
“One is a caregiver, a loving, caring and self sacrificing individual, and one is a care needer, the self centered vain egotistical individual who needs to control relationships. These two fit perfectly.”. Rosenburg.
He says the codependent is in the relationship to try to change the Narcissist in hopes of getting the love they dream of, but they never get it. A healthy person would leave. What we know is that the codependent usually had a Narcissistic parent (or parent with addiction or parent with borderline personality disorder, etc.) and was taught in order to get “love” they had to work for it. It wasn’t good enough just to be a son or daughter, the Narcissist makes you earn it. There is no unconditional love, the child of a Narcissist learns they must care take in order to get love. It makes sense that in adulthood, we don’t seek out happiness, we seek out what is familiar. Adult children of narcissists/addicts unconsciously are attracted to the narcissist like a magnet. They unconsciously believe that if they change or heal the narcissist they will receive in return the love and affection they were deprived of in childhood. What they don’t understand is that Narcissists are incapable of change, and you can’t “fix” people.
After all this psychological torment, we try to meet others and go on dates with “normal” people. But there’s just “no spark” and something is “missing”. No adrenaline spike. No abuse. Boring! This doesn’t feel familiar AT ALL. Mutual love and respect? Feels so foreign. When you meet someone and feel an “instant connection” or “immediate spark”, 99 times out of 100 that is a red flag. Warning! Run away! Because healthy love grows over time. Anything immediate and rushed is concocted and fabricated.
Al Anon is a great program that is for loved ones of addicts. The same principles apply for NPDs victims. Love them from a far, pray for them, but get the hell off the crazy train. Once you learn there is always going to be one crisis after another and you aren’t missing anything important (besides insanity), you can start to heal. GO to Al Anon, find a sponsor, download the Al Anon ‘Today’s Hope’ daily devotional App, and get involved. Exercise, obtain hobbies, and get your mind off of what the Narc is doing. Detachment is the goal, and a licensed therapist or psychologist will be needed to help you meet this goal and process what you have been through. This goes for loved ones of addicts too! You cannot be in a relationship with someone who is in active addiction. The Narc is ALWAYS in active addiction to their need for narcissistic supply.
BUT IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR NARCISSISTS? What causes someone to be one?
“I feel so bad because he had such a bad childhood”. “I feel so bad because he’s struggling with addiction”. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to victims plead, bargain and beg for a way to keep loving their abusers. Okay, yes, there is hope. God of the Universe can change the hearts of men. Here’s the catch, they have to ALLOW their heart to be changed. And YOU are NOT the Holy Spirit, so don’t kid yourself. You will NOT be the one to change them. Psychologically speaking, there is no pill, no therapy session, no loving spouse that will change the Narcissist. There IS NO CURE. Spiritually speaking, yes God can move the hearts of men. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.
WHAT CAUSES SOMEONE TO DEVELOP NARCISSISM?
Narcissists are made not born. The cause is childhood trauma:
But wait many of us have childhood trauma, why are we all not narcissists? We all develop “protector parts” to help us deal with family of origin trauma. For the narcissistic person their protective parts are those that hurt others. They have made one decision after the next to harm others, reject help, and to become their own god. They have embraced resistance and justification for why they harm others.
Now, some researchers believe that a recent discovery called mirror neurons might provide a neuroscience-based answer to those questions. Mirror neurons are a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. They were first discovered in the early 1990s, when a team of Italian researchers found individual neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys that fired both when the monkeys grabbed an object and also when the monkeys watched another primate grab the same object. Did the narcissists’ caretakers interfere with their mirror neurons development in childhood?
Having an unempathetic and distant mother who is hypercritical and devalues her child causes the child to create an internalized grandiose self as a defense mechanism against the perceived lack of love and resulting emotional trauma. NPD is a pathological development.
The environment alone is the major cause and that NPD was the result of arrested development in normal psychological growth.
At the end of the day, it seems that there is agreement that some of the risk factors in early childhood include:
- insensitive parenting,
- unpredictable or negligent care,
- excessive criticism,
- extremely high expectations, and
- over-praising and excessive pampering, when parents focus intensely on the child’s appearance or particular talent (usually as a result of their own lack of self-esteem).
There is also speculation that abnormalities in a person’s genes may affect the connection between their brain and their behaviors.
Mirror Neuron Receptor Deficit, Narcissism and Neurosis
The concept of Mirror Neuron Receptor Deficit (MNRD) may partially explain the emotional experience, thinking and behavior responses in narcissism and neurosis.
Narcissists constantly need to be mirrored and have others conform to their emotional and psychological needs. They frustrate and become irritated easily and when they are already in a state of MNRD and someone dares to not cater to them, their frustration can quickly turn into what we call “narcissistic rage.” This is what happened with the Evil Queen in Snow White. Already experiencing a MNRD (or else why would she have needed to ask for reassurance), she needed some stroking of her ego when she approached the Magic Mirror. And when in that state of mind she wasn’t “mirrored,” but instead was told that she was no longer “the fairest of them all” the insult added to her narcissistic injury was too much and caused her to fly into rageful retaliation.
On the other hand, when narcissists experience MNRD, they feel anxious and/or depressed. If at that point they are not mirrored by someone and to make matters worse, experience a further lack of mirroring through an uncaring act by someone else, they usually don’t fly into a rage. Instead they usually feel more anxious and/or depressed and will often withdraw or seek comfort with food, alcohol, drugs, shopping and/or sex (through hooking up, prostitutes and/or masturbation).
The Many Faces of Narcissism: Cluster B
All of cluster B are types of Narcissists. Narcissistic, Antisocial, Borderline, and Histrionic Personality Disorders make up Cluster B. Cluster B is a group of personality disorders characterized by lack of empathy, lack of awareness, resistance, and no lasting remorse or conviction. In my opinion these are all versions of Narcissism that present differently. Antisocials have most of the qualities of Narcissism in addition to legal charges, lack of planning, and chronic boredom. Histrionics present as sexually inappropriate and the need for attention. Borderlines fear abandonment and rejection and retaliate for attention when their is real or perceived offense. Currently BPD have the most success out of of all the personality disorders in therapy. Mostly because they go and can be very motivated for treatment. Problematic borderlines, however, typically sabotage therapy when something doesn’t go their way. Problematic borderlines are also very retaliative.
Types of Narcissists
Classic narcissists are the typical narcissists that most people think of when they hear the term “narcissist”, also described as high-functioning, exhibitionistic, or grandiose narcissists. They exhibit attention-seeking behavior, tend to brag about their accomplishments, feel entitled to special treatment and expect others to bow down and kiss their feet. They really aren’t interested in anyone but themselves, and get easily bored when the conversation turns away from them. They tend to perceive themselves to be superior to most people, but ironically are desperate to feel important.
The second major type of narcissist is the vulnerable narcissist, also sometimes called fragile, compensatory or closet narcissists. Like the classic narcissists, they also feel superior to most people they meet; however, they are more introverted and despise being the center of attention. They prefer to attach themselves to special people instead of seeking the special treatment themselves. They are more likely to seek out pity from others or flatter and suck up to others, sometimes through excessive generosity, just to receive the attention and admiration they desire to boost their sense of self-worth.
The third major type of narcissist is the communal narcissist. This type is a little trickier to spot at first glance because they focus on promoting themselves through their commitment to others, communal goals, and their self-proclaimed super-ability to listen and connect with others. They will often give to charities (or brag about how little they spend on themselves) and volunteer their time “helping” others. They may talk about their “life’s mission” in grandiose terms or commit themselves to a cause that will “change the world”.
Although they appear selfless on the surface, dig a little deeper and you may find that they are hugely territorial of the charity they serve and much more concerned with receiving a pat on the back for their contribution rather than the communal goal they are supposedly working toward. The truth of the matter is that they are only involved in community to validate their sorely lacking sense of self.
The fourth and final major type of narcissist is the malignant, or toxic, narcissist. They are highly manipulative and exploit others (typically for pleasure). These narcissists tend to display paranoia and antisocial traits not present in classic, vulnerable, or communal narcissists. They can be ruthless in their primary goal to control and dominate others. They are deceitful and aggressive. Worse yet, they lack remorse for their actions.
Sub-Type 1: Overt vs. Covert
As I mentioned earlier, each of these major types of narcissists include sub-types that characterize how the traits may appear to others. The first sub-type describes the methods the narcissist uses to get his or her needs met…Are they overt and use methods that are obvious and out in the open for all to see? Or are they covert and use methods that are stealthier and more secretive? For example, we all know that narcissists like to deliver insults and put people down. An overt narcissist will do so in obvious and unmistakable ways, while a covert narcissist will do so in more passive-aggressive ways. A covert narcissist can manipulate others without them knowing they were manipulated, or their tactics allow them to deny what happened.
Classic and communal narcissists are always overt, and vulnerable narcissists are always covert; however, when it comes to malignant narcissists…they can be either.
Sub-Type 2: Somatic vs. Cerebral
The second sub-type defines what the narcissist values most in him or herself and others. No narcissist wants to be out-shined by their partner. Their partner is viewed more like a shiny object they can show off to raise their own social status. This sub-type includes somatic narcissists, who are obsessed with their bodies and their external appearance, and cerebral narcissists who come across as know-it-alls. They view themselves as the most intelligent ones in the room and like to try to impress people with their accomplishments. Any of the four major types of narcissists — classic, vulnerable, communal or malignant — can be either somatic or cerebral.
Sub-Type 3: Inverted vs. Sadistic
The last and final sub-type includes a couple of special types of narcissists. The first special sub-type is the inverted narcissist, which only applies to vulnerable, covert narcissists. This group of narcissists are codependent and tend to attach themselves to other narcissists to feel special. They tend to have a victim mindset and suffer from child abandonment issues.
The second special sub-type is the sadistic narcissist…a special type of malignant narcissist. This group is comparable to sociopaths and psychopaths in that they take great pleasure in others’ pain. They like humiliating and hurting people, and sometimes have bizarre sexual fetishes.
Finally the Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist can appear to have humility, shyness, and sensitivity. However they also are characterized by the following: sensitivity to criticism, passive aggressive, envy, feelings of inadequacy and shame, holds grudges, and grandiose fantasies.
Resources: Want More?
- Sam Vatkin. This guy is pretty interesting because he’s a self proclaimed Narcissist that wrote a book, “Narcissism Revisted”. Because who better to educate you on narcissism than an Narcissist? He’s got a Youtube channel that is very informative. If you can hang in there through the completely lack of emotion and monotone rattling of information. Typical! But wait you say! If he wrote a book and is doing a YouTube channel to help others learn about narcissism, maybe there’s hope for him? NOPE, he readily admits he does it all for narcissistic supply. Wow! Sam also coined the term “Covert Narcissist” which is the Narcissist that you don’t see coming. This is not the typical Narcissist who is the life of the party. He’s the shy guy who sucks you in with his appearance of vulnerability. Don’t cross either one!
- Richard Gannon. This guy is a self proclaimed victim of Narcissists and has a YouTube Channel, Sparton Life Coach. He’s quite humorous and very informative.
- Ross Rosenburg. Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us. Read it!
- Donna Anderson. Founder of www.lovefraud.com. The founder of this website shares her disturbing story of marrying a sociopath/conn man and getting taken for all her money. Go to the website! Read the stories. Take some webinars. Excellent info and resources. 🙂