Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Narcissitic Underground

The Narcissistic Underground

Let me paraphrase a short story that a patient with a borderline/narcissistic personality disorder once told me, when I asked her how things were going:

"Just wait until you hear how I stood up and took responsibility for myself, doctor! Last night at about 2am, my daughter knocked on my door and told me that she had been raped and beaten up by her boyfriend. There she was standing at my door and demanding that I help her out. But I said to her, 'I have to take responsibilty for myself alone so I can't help you. You'll have to deal with it yourself.' And I slammed the door in her face. Maybe I could have helped her, but I don't see why when I'm having so many problem of my own."

The context for this is that in her group therapy, they had been discussing interpersonal effectiveness and how to stand up for one's self when dealing with other people who are trying to take advantage of you. As is somewhat typical for persons with her personality, she had managed to interpret this to mean that she now had official permission to tell everyone to 'drop dead' because her needs came first. This is, of course, not even remotely what "interpersonal effectiveness" is all about. In fact, it is about learning how to relate to others as real people. All too often, narcissistic or borderline people have no room in their psyche for other people. They tend to see others as mere extensions of their own feelings and needs; or as threats to those feelings and needs. Other people don't really exist in their own right.

This is characteristic of the peculiar derangement of the borderline/narcissistic person. It is all about them, you see. The world is not big enough for their needs and anyone else's at the same time. All situations must be filtered through the feeling prism of "what's most important for me?" or "how can I most benefit from this?". Compassion can be faked if necessary to achieve one's ends, but expressing the rage and hatred inside is even more important.

With that story in mind, consider this example of Bush Derangement Syndrome that K-Lo mentions at The Corner - it is, of course from the site that regularly makes persons with serious mental illness seem completely sane by comparison--the Democratic Underground. Let's listen a minute to her piteous plight:

I did not stop to help a [Bush] supporter today.

I had no idea how deeply my hate for that man ran. My lack of an interaction, with a * supporter is still haunting me a couple of hours later.

I was on my home and was on the ramp getting off the highway. I saw a mini-van on the side of the road. There was a lady standing next to the van and in her arms she held her child. I can only assume her mini-van had broken down. I don't know, perhaps with so many gad stations being out of gas, she had also run out. I slowed down and started to pull over to offer her a ride. At the very last second I noticed a "W" sticker on the back of her vehicle and I sped up and drove off.

I feel really bad as a human being. That child is not responsible for their parent's belief system. They are innocent and do not deserve to be out in the heat. (It is warm but not so bad that they would even break a sweat) I try not to punish people for what they believe.

On the other hand, so many hateful thoughts went through my head. I wondered how a person could see what was going on in NO and still have one of those awful stickers on their car. How could they support an awful excuse for a human being that has let our country down and is letting Americans die after they have made it through the storm? How can someone be so blind and so stupid?

I thought that if she loves * so much, maybe he would come along and help her the same way he is rescuing all of those poor people in the weather stricken part of our country. Let's see what her hero can do for her.

I never did go back. I was so upset with that sticker and with the fact that someone would support an idiot who is so clearly running our country into the ground.

So why am I writing this? It is not to boast, I really feel bad about passing this child and not picking up their mother. Perhaps it is for a catharsis of sorts? That would be an educated guess. I suppose it is because I feel conflicted and I am writing this to try and sort through what I am feeling. There are two emotional sides, for me, on this incident and neither seems completely right or wrong to me. Even writing this, I am still not able to work through what happened. I feel like I am floating between right and wrong and am unable to grab either side.

Thanks for listening.

Note that there is considerable suffering in the world right now, but it is all about their feelings. Their beliefs. Their suffering and conflict. She is surprised at how much hate she feels. Why is that, do you suppose? Is it because she spends a considerable amount of psychic energy projecting her hate onto others (e.g., Bush etc.)? Is it because she cleverly psychologically disguises her intense hatred and anger under a flowing veil of love and compassion and peace?

To justify the intensity of her rage, she must make its object equally "bad". In her deluded mind, Republicans are responsible for the devastation in New Orleans. In fact, Republicans (and Bush of course) are responsible for ALL THE EVIL IN THE WORLD! By making them the ultimate evil, she can bask in her virtuousness and goodness. Why, look at how she simply is so anguished about not stopping to help someone in need. But she never did go back, did she?

This is the worse kind of narcissism--the kind we refer to as "malignant". People who are so obsessed with their own needs and feelings, that they can't really be bothered to care about anyone else.

It's not about the people suffering from Katrina. It's all about their intense feelings regarding Bush and the people who voted for him. It's all about feeling "conflicted" about their own rage and anger. Me. Me. Me. Me. My feelings. My conflicts. I feel, therefore I am. I feel strongly, therefore I am better than you.

All without noticing --or taking responsibility for the consequences of-- their anger and rage. Or, if they happen to notice them--like our DU friend above, it simply becomes more grist for their emotional mill (imagine the "woe is me", hand to the forehead, as they contemplate how the evil Republicans have made them feel and behave in this horrible way).

Under normal circumstances, I might feel somewhat sorry for people who think like this, particularly since they are on the path to self-destruction. If they had one iota of self-reflection or insight about their malignancy and the damage they carelessly inflict on all those around them, then maybe I might spare a little sympathy.

The problem is that they want to destroy my country and all that it stands for. They could care less about New Orleans and the terrible situation there. They could care less about any of the destruction they are leaving in their hysterical wake.

We will eventually manage the destruction wrought by Katrina; the people whose lives have been so disruped and broken will slowly get their lives back and things will return to some semblance of normality. But how can we deal with a hatred that seems to know no bounds and threatens to destroy the very fabic of our nation?

At least I can expose the malignant narcissism that permeates their "compassionate" and "loving" behavior.

UPDATE: Isn't this nice? The BBC and the DU in a folie a deux:

Set yer VCRs - I'm going to be on the BBC world news tonight I got an email earlier from the planning producer at the BBC world news asking if someone from DU could take part in a 2-3 minute interview on tonight's broadcast. Since Skinner's not here, I'm it. I'll be heading over to the studio in DC just before 8pm eastern tonight. They seem to want to talk about the suggestion that Bush's appearance in New Orleans was timed to coincide with aid reaching the Superdome.

I wonder where that "suggestion" came from?

UPDATE II: It seems there is hope for insight and self-awareness after all. JLawson from the comment section writes:

Doc -
I waded through the DU post in question - and further down she posted the following:
"In fact after actually being able to write it out and think it over, I was 100% wrong and would take it all back if I could. In fact my response, to the first person who answered my post, was that I did wrong and that I will be picking up a person no matter who it is next time. That does fall within reason - I may offer to call the police for a male who is stranded.

I am not someone who usually stops to think about something before helping someone. I just talked to my husband about taking in people from NO who needed help. There were no strings attached as to how people voted, etc.... He did feel uncomfortable since we have two small children so we have donated money and I have contacted someone I know, from NO, to offer any assistance we can give to them or their family."

To my thinking, that redeems her. Sadly, others in that thread thought what she did wasn't extreme enough. But to give her credit, she realized she went too far and she was very ashamed of it.

Shame is a good start in this case.

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