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We Need a Vaccine Against Narcissism

This seems like a good place to stick my reminder about Live Blogging for Girls this weekend. 

I’ll be here dishing about the Season 2 premiere on Sunday at 9PM EST. Please join me to watch and give your impressions!

Now back to regular HUS programming.

 

Jean Twenge has completed her analysis of the most recent annual American Freshman Survey, which measures narcissistic tendencies among college students. They continue to rise, though not as dramatically as they once did. Here’s the graphic for the last 50 years:

_64903574_us_students_narcissism_464

Twenge believes that the self-esteem movement, known for such slogans as “Believe in yourself” and “Believe in your dream,” has created a culture of self-obsession. 

This year, in response to questions about whether kids might actually be working harder or getting smarter, Twenge and her colleagues looked at a variety of proficiency scores over time, and found that they were flat, and in some cases, down. Kids aren’t getting better, their egos are just getting bigger.

Twenge notes that in 1966, when the survey was first given, the culture used to encourage honesty and humility, and punished bragging or conceit. In the last two decades in particular, we’ve absorbed the message that in order to be successful, one must be highly self-confident at all times. 

This belief is widely held and very deeply held. It is also untrue. Self-esteem doesn’t lead to good outcomes. It doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it doesn’t help either. 

It’s probably the case that good outcomes result in good self-esteem, not vice versa. It’s not just the U.S. that is seeing the relentless rise of narcissism; similar results have been observed in New Zealand and China. Although Twenge focuses on the change being generational in nature, she points out that the culture is culpable as well. Materialism, the widespread use of plastic surgery, social media, and celebrity obsession have all had profound effects on Narcissistic Personality Inventory Scores. Today a full quarter of college students score in the range of a pathological degree of self-esteem. Twenge:

Narcissists put themselves first in every way. They feel so great, they feel better than other people. Other people don’t matter much to them. It’s all about “what can you do for me?”

In the long-term, what tends to happen is that narcissistic people mess up their relationships, at home and at work. Narcissists may say all the right things but their actions eventually reveal them to be self-serving.

As for the narcissists themselves, it often not until middle age that they notice their life has been marked by an unusual number of failed relationships. But it’s not something that is easy to fix – narcissists are notorious for dropping out of therapy.

It’s a personality trait. It’s by definition very difficult to change. It’s rooted in genetics and early environment and culture and things that aren’t all that malleable.

Many more college freshmen today not only have an inflated view of their abilities, they expect to be rewarded accordingly. Half of college freshmen feel sure they will attend graduate school, while that number is actually flat at about 10%. Large numbers expect to be rich and/or famous. This has led to “ambition inflation,” which obviously creates unrealistic expectations. Today, nearly 80% of freshmen rate themselves as above average in the “drive to achieve.” Twenge believes that the rise in depression and anxiety since the 60s and 70s reflects this, as people get out of school and find that just getting a job is a challenge.  

It’s not really possible to live your life while avoiding narcissists. In fact, you’re so vain you probably think this post is about you. :P  If there’s one piece of advice that comes out of Twenge’s work, it’s this:

Make sure you’re not putting the cart before the horse. Never accept self-confidence at face value. The guy with cocky bluster is more likely to be below average than anything really special, and he almost certainly has an inflated view of his own talents. 

 

Where there is high self-esteem, there should be evidence of real achievement to back it up. And needless to say, a girl who’s focused most heavily on herself  has a built-in obsolescence feature – expect a full breakdown in less than a year. 

  • Society’s Disposable Son

    “Make sure you’re not putting the cart before the horse. Never accept self-confidence at face value. The guy with cocky bluster is more likely to be below average than anything really special, and he almost certainly has an inflated view of his own talents.”

    This +1,000,000,000,000,000

    Me and my friends always distanced ourselves from these types of guys. Maybe this is where I internalized some bad traits re: dating because I always saw these types of guys doing well with women and thought if that’s how I have to be then fuck it. Nothing I hate more than some average joe or jane that thinks they’re king shit.

  • JP

    “Twenge believes that the self-esteem movement, known for such slogans as “Believe in yourself” and “Believe in your dream,” has created a culture of self-obsession. ”

    I don’t have a “dream”, so there’s nothing there for me to believe in.

  • J

    The irony is that, in the end, narcissism leads to failure, not success.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      The irony is that, in the end, narcissism leads to failure, not success.

      Yes, and narcissists are also very unhappy people, which Twenge touched on with the comment about depression and anxiety. The problem is that from the outside they give the appearance of doing so well and having so much fun! And of course, they’re fairly impervious to rejection, they’re always the ones who care the least.

      I thought it was interesting that narcissists often don’t reflect on their own history of failed relationships until middle age – it takes them 30 or 40 years to realize they suck at something. It’s sad – narcissists want to be loved, think they are more deserving than anyone, and can’t understand why no one stays with them. It never occurs to them that they don’t love.

  • http://www.alfin2500.blogspot.com Alice Finkel

    Barack Obama has done very well for himself, despite his incomparable level of narcissism.

    As long as a narcissist receives continuous positive reinforcement from the outside world, he will be quite happy, thanks.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Alice Finkel

      As long as a narcissist receives continuous positive reinforcement from the outside world, he will be quite happy, thanks.

      Why thanks? Random.

      Anyway. The most gifted among us are the only ones who will receive continuous reinforcement based on performance. Those rare and extraordinary people may be emotionally stunted, i.e. low empathy, but they will be successful against challenges to “put up or shut up.” I suppose if anyone deserves to say they are the absolute best, it’s those folks. Obama is clearly one of those.

      I would also question your diagnosis of Obama – certainly he is not pathological – he appears to have had very successful relationships throughout his life and is an involved and caring father. Does he have a huge ego? Sure, but that does not mean he is unable to put himself in someone else’s shoes. Bill Clinton is another example.

  • JP

    “Twenge believes that the rise in depression and anxiety since the 60s and 70s reflects this, as people get out of school and find that just getting a job is a challenge.”

    It was still working for the T14 law schools in the late 1990’s.

    Me: “I went to Duke Law School”.

    Law firm: “Great! We are going to create a summer associate position just for you because of your inherent awesomeness!”

    Me: “I find that to be satisfactory to my desires and in line with my understanding of how reality works.”

  • JP

    And now? With Duke Law school?

    Therein lies the rub…

    http://dukelawpetition.blogspot.com/

  • JP

    Here’s a quote from the petition:

    “Meanwhile, the employment situation for Duke Law graduates is rapidly deteriorating. Only 82.1 percent of the class of 2011 was able to obtain full time, long term jobs requiring bar passage[11] – a low number considering the high debt levels of graduates. More alarmingly, salaries have failed to keep pace with rapid tuition growth. Only 58.9 percent of 2011 graduates landed jobs in private firms, and of that group only half made $160,000 as first year associates.[12] This means that less than 30 percent of Duke’s 2011 class earned even close to enough money to sustain monthly payments of approximately $1,600 that the average student borrower faces under a standard ten year payment plan.[13] In fact, FinAid estimates that a salary of $200,239.20 is necessary to comfortably pay off this level of debt, a salary unobtainable for the vast majority of Duke Law graduates.[14] Moreover, only 11.6 percent of the class obtained public interest or government jobs that might qualify them for Duke’s loan forgiveness program.[15] The stark reality is that many Duke Law graduates are saddled with non-dischargeable student loan debt that is simply impossible to pay on the average lawyer salary – if they are fortunate enough to obtain paying legal work.”

    So, the answer is that reality generally corrects Special Snowflake syndrome.

  • http://uncabob.blogspot.com/ Bob

    “The guy with cocky bluster is more likely to be below average than anything really special, and he almost certainly has an inflated view of his own talents.”

    “Alphas,” i.e. cads. The “Alphas” I’ve met collapse around women when they actually have feelings for them. Bluster on top, weakness underneath.

    That “Dark Triad” babble is just bluster to cover up the flaw of being easily and excruciatingly humiliated by the most insignificant of things. People who believe in the Dark Triad don’t know what they’re talking about. The worst of psychopaths are serial killers, cannibals and necrophiliacs. There is nothing admirable about them.

  • Russ in Texas

    “So. What have you done that I should care about?”

    It’s nowhere near as insulting a line as it’s made out to be.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      “So. What have you done that I should care about?”

      Wow, substitute “You’re awfully confident!” for the “So” and you’ve got a great neg there.

  • http://www.christianfreethought.com/ IrishFarmer

    Twenge’s book (the Narcissism Epidemic), is IMHO on the must-read list.

    This post touches on one of the great mistakes that a lot of people in the manosphere make. MGTOWs think that withdrawing from relationships will somehow make them better. PUAs think that by accentuating natural narcissistic tendencies, you’ll be a master of relationships, despite that most of what they complain about in women are those exact things.

    Even the term “female solipsism”, representing women’s tendency towards self-absorption and all of that is really just another way of saying “narcissism”. Women do show this more, but only because feminism has been really good at getting women to think of themselves as human beings, not human doings – which men haven’t tried yet. Whenever the men’s movement really takes off, we’ll see things balance out and there will be a new phenomenon called male solipsism for people to blog about.

    The problem isn’t that men will go down this same road eventually, it’s that some of them will make the same mistakes that some women made when they do. The optimist in me thinks that we’ll figure it out in time to put relationships back on track, but who knows…

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @IrishFarmer

      I share your optimism. It’s not rational, perhaps. I read all the comments about the inevitable destruction of the West, and I think, well, we’ll see. In the final analysis, the only reason for human beings to exist is to love each other and make more human beings. That’s what we’re really built to do.

  • Russ in Texas

    I don’t think in those terms, usually. If I ask the question, it’s because I’m hoping to be surprised with something worthwhile and fascinating. But yeah, I think if the idea’s to break the frame, it’s a question which definitely puts the shoe on the other foot.

  • Abbot

    How about a counter-slut hypodermic that makes em puke at the third drink

    http://www.ajc.com/news/lifestyles/health/cdc-binge-drinking-a-serious-problem-for-women-gir/nTqWg/

    .

  • John

    I wonder which gender is more narcissistic? Hmmm…

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @John

      I wonder which gender is more narcissistic? Hmmm…

      It used to be that 75% of narcissists were male. Women have been catching up fast – last I heard it was not 50/50, but it probably close. Whether they surpass men will be interesting to see. Certainly females were the primary beneficiaries, though not the only ones, of the self-esteem movement.

  • http://busboom.org Eric Busboom

    The data is collected for college students, a group that is about 40% of all people in the 18-24 age range. Since all of the abilities listed on the graph are ones that are arguably material to getting into college, 100% of the students should have reported themselves above average: they’d have to be above average just to be in college.

    I’d say this graph shows that college freshman are unjustifiably humble.

    Linked below is the survey instrument. The relevant question is #41. Note that it asks the respondent to compare himself to the average person of the same age, not to other college students. If 80% of the respondents had reported themselves to be better than the average college student, then there would be evidence of narcissism.

    http://www.heri.ucla.edu/researchers/instruments/CIRP/2012SIF.pdf

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Eric Busboom

      Thanks for that thoughtful comment, and the link to the survey!

      You make an excellent point – I would love to hear Twenge respond to it. Some thoughts come to mind:

      1. The survey is for freshmen only. The percent of high school students enrolled as college freshmen the same year was 68.3% in 2011.
      http://www.bls.gov/news.release/hsgec.nr0.htm

      2. You are correct that the wording specifies “the average person your age.” It occurs to me that most students would naturally assess themselves via their peer group, the people whom they are competing against, and would naturally exclude those who had not demonstrated the traits necessary for college, and ultimately, riches and fame.

      The report uses the following caption for the relevant table:

      Student Self-Ratings: Above Average or Highest 10% Compared to Average Peer

      http://www.heri.ucla.edu/PDFs/pubs/TFS/Trends/Monographs/TheAmericanFreshman40YearTrends.pdf

      3. The exact same survey has been given for 50 years, but obviously the college freshman population has changed dramatically.

      From 1972 to 2004, college participation rates increased, with high school graduates
      enrolled in college immediately after high school increasing from 49 to 67 percent (NCES,
      2006).

      Whites dropped from 91% of freshmen in 1971 to 77% in 2006, with all minority groups gaining.

      In 1966, 53% of students were men. Today women make up over 57% of freshmen.

  • Erik L

    Interesting post. I can tell you from my own experience, as an adult, both in my personal life and in the workplace, that people react poorly to humility. I didn’t realize that this was a recent phenomenon.

    I’d also like to point out that there is a spectrum here and just because a person thinks he is above average in all these ways does not mean he has narcissistic personality disorder. That is an extreme thing. I have a friend who I’m pretty sure passes DSM muster on this diagnosis. It is very different from just being full of oneself. It is sad. It gets less tolerable as you get older and cures are rare. This is because the NPD patient is never the problem; the world is.

  • http://siralansspire.wordpress.com Sir Alan

    Does this surprise me? No. People in my generation think they’re so elite, so unique, so special. What’s that? My status got 100 likes on Facebook? What’s that? My Instagram photo of my dog got 30 comments? I must be sooooooooooooooooooo important. Our culture is junk. It’s trash. It’s useless. We don’t value anything. Just buy, buy, buy and work till we drop dead so we can buy, buy, buy. My best friend is the biggest narcissist around. He tells me how he’s proud he’s so arrogant and that he looks at himself in the mirror for at least two hours a day. What’s he going to be in life? Jack sh*t. He’s a solid person, but he’s just so self absorbed and he thinks he’s so special.

    I have fallen prey to narcissism. I regret it. I used to think it was cool. I thought if I was a Dark Triad male, I’d get more girls. I was tired of being humble. I thought humble guys just didn’t get girls. It felt disgusting to me. I couldn’t keep it up for long because it was too draining. I believed that girls actually liked Dark Triad guys. I mean, they do, but it’s always the sizzle and not the steak.

    Anyway, I don’t see narcissism dying down any time soon. As long as we have social outlets like Twitter that emphasize followers over following, it isn’t going anywhere.

  • JP

    I thought that we all pretty much agreed that humility was a virtue.

    “Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. It is a spirit of self-examination; a hermeneutic of suspicion toward yourself and charity toward people you disagree with. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Reverence for those who have wisdom and those who selflessly teach in love. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one’s own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be. Refraining from despair and the ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_virtues

  • Russ in Texas

    @JP: I was always taught that modesty was thinking of yourself accurately, and having an appropriate understanding of your worth.

    Contrary to touchy-feely-land, all people are *not* worth the same. If a horrible ice-cream-related incident were about to happen, and you had the choice of either saving me, or saving Elon Musk, well, I’m a swell guy, but the WRONG CHOICE. :)

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    It’s an epidemic, but IME most college students still have great difficulty with presentations, public speaking, etc. Because it was not built on handling genuine pain and adversity, a lot of the confidence stands on a house of cards and falls quickly when given a light shove.

    Another problem is that a high number of narcissists in a community poses problems because, ironically, these people tend to resent others who display similar levels of self-absorption. So a girl with 1000 Facebook friends may assume that roughly that many people keep up with her status updates and are “watching” her life, when in fact each of those thousand friends may assume the same thing.

    If you know you have narcissistic tendencies, you should try to harness this by actively seeking out groups that will humble you in relevant performance domains. You’ll deal with the resulting cognitive dissonance by either breaking down psychologically and becoming depressed (which is fine) or by practicing and studying really hard to try to raise your actual ability level to parity with your high opinion of yourself (also ok). The trick is to systematically seek out humbling activities and to learn to enjoy it when you get outperformed, as it means that you are in a high-growth location.

    This hardly ever happens, though; narcissists tend to stick with what they are good at, to try to shift social situations towards what they are good at, and to attempt to rationalize their failures and marginalize the value of accomplishments or qualifications that they don’t possess.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @BB

      Because it was not built on handling genuine pain and adversity, a lot of the confidence stands on a house of cards and falls quickly when given a light shove.

      This is the crux of the matter. Pain and suffering is a must. It just is. There is little we can expect to fully enjoy in this life if we have not endured that. We must be tested, and fail, and learn, and do it again.

      I suspect that those kids know they are on shaky ground. They have been fortunate until now, but they know they have not been tested, and that they are only guaranteed success if things continue to break in their favor.

      The trick is to systematically seek out humbling activities and to learn to enjoy it when you get outperformed, as it means that you are in a high-growth location.

      This is phenomenally useful advice, but I agree that it is lost on those you’ve just described, because the relative insecurity of their exalted status makes testing too scary. Those with a true potential for excellence will want to be tested – they should be eager to segregate all those impostors from those who have the mettle and talent for real achievement.

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    sorry for the typos and redundancies in that last one…

  • JP

    ” I suppose if anyone deserves to say they are the absolute best, it’s those folks. Obama is clearly one of those.”

    I remember debating Walter Dellinger in class and realizing that he was, essentially, a metaphysical idiot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Dellinger

    There’s nothing to challenge Obama with respect to “putting up or shutting up.” He’s not that sophisticated of a politician. I’m not sure *what* he does to tell you the truth. He’s kind of inert. I’m not criticizing him, just pointing out that I harbor nearly no feelings toward him at all.

    Clinton both had a natural amazing political skill and basically has a dysfunctional mind (I’m *not* talking about his sexual escapades – I’m taking about his mind, with respect to his decision-making abilities). Fortunately, Hillary was able to step in and deal with that.

    If I had to rate their overall intelligence, I would rate them Obama < Bill < Hillary < Dellinger.

  • JP

    I’m pretty sure that I’m in the bottom half of attorneys in terms of skill. I’m not sure how much my extremely high intelligence compensates for my lack of skill, so I *could* be in the top half.

    That being said, I never had any actual interest in being an attorney nor being good at being an attorney. It’s just not something I’m interested in.

    I just needed a career and a paycheck, so I pulled a career out of a vending machine and hoped for the best.

  • Jesse

    I saw the song reference at the end of the post. I always found that one a bit annoying though. If pressed for something similar, I’d rather listen to Back on the Chain Gang, or maybe You Make Loving Fun. ;-)

    Anyway, I confess to not reading very carefully, but my opinion is that the really important thing is not to root your identity in ‘I am special’ but to root your identity in ‘I have to MAKE MYSELF special.’

    If you want money, status, admiration, a hot wife with a thing on the side (I kid… sort of), whatever, you have to make yourself worthy of it. I’m suspicious the ‘I am special’ sentiment has a tendency to cause people to sit on their asses.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jesse

      If pressed for something similar, I’d rather listen to Back on the Chain Gang, or maybe You Make Loving Fun.

      You have just risen to the group of people I believe to have excellent taste and judgment. Back on the Chain Gang is definitely in my top 25 songs of all time.

  • http://7thseriesgongshow.blogspot.com Mr. Nervous Toes

    Obama may have a big ego, but it’s not oversized relative to his talents, partisan bitterness aside. That’s the difference between confidence and arrogance, right there.

    Obviously a lot of ‘straight-shooting’ men don’t like Obama because his position is never apparent in the present. What he thinks, what he says, and what he does are all different. It’s only in hindsight that you see the direction he was taking. Hence the disdain. It is unamerican, in the sense that his strength is his country’s weakness.

  • Russ in Texas

    Politics is like a septic tank.
    The really BIG chunks rise to the top.

  • JP

    “I share your optimism. It’s not rational, perhaps. I read all the comments about the inevitable destruction of the West, and I think, well, we’ll see. In the final analysis, the only reason for human beings to exist is to love each other and make more human beings. That’s what we’re really built to do.”

    I’m a metahistory hobbyist, so it’s not so much the “destruction of the West” as much as it is that the West peaked with Modernism and is essentially culturally exhausted, meaning that it’s essentially over as a culture. Nothing very new will come out of it. My current thinking is that the peak was about WWI in Europe and 1968 in the U.S. We’re still moving forward with the technology innovation waves, such as biotechnology.

    Ideally, the next high culture will be better.

    All cultures end, just like people’s lives end. Trees don’t grow to the sky.

    I figure that we are in cultural winter, right now, where we get to live off the fumes of the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment.

    I still think that Russia is still growing, culturally speaking. It will be interesting for me to see what happens to the Russian Orthodox church during the next Awakening.

    The people who are mad about the “destruction of the West” don’t realize that they need to be busy figuring out a way forward without looking in the rear view mirror and complaining about how the present is degenerate. It’s not like we haven’t seen a ton of high culures peak and decline before.

    Last time, Rome declined and Byzantium took over, followed by Byzantium declining and the West taking over.

    What’s amusing to me is the entire issue of people becoming more secular/atheist.

    Well, yeah, people do that but it’s the Enlightenment/Rationalist/Modern worldview.

    It doesn’t mean that you’re “better” or “more advanced”. It means that you’re Modern.

    Check back with me in 300 years to tell me whether that trend had staying power considering that Modernism is now a spent cultural force.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Now that so few of our population are exposed to the military as way to find out where they actually stand in relation to others, what’s left?
    In high school, there are sports. That’s a brutally clear and unambiguous way–coaches’ blind spots or favoritism aside–to find out where you stand. Just finding it out, even if you’re at the top, is useful, because, among other things, even at the top you know how you got there and how somebody else can better you.
    And high school clubs frequently will help you find out, because, while teachers may be talking self-esteem, your peers want you to produce, either for the school paper, or the chess club, or the tech side of the high school drama department and if you don’t, they don’t care about your self-esteem.
    OTOH, as one person said, you can win a bazillion somethings or other in Madden football on your ipod/pad/whatever without ever going outdoors, breaking a sweat, or hitting and getting hit.

  • JP

    “That’s a brutally clear and unambiguous way–coaches’ blind spots or favoritism aside–to find out where you stand. Just finding it out, even if you’re at the top, is useful, because, among other things, even at the top you know how you got there and how somebody else can better you.”

    Uh, yeah. You generally got there because of genetics.

    Just like intelligence.

    You do better on the tests because you are more intelligent than the other students.

  • Damien Vulaume

    Twenge believes that the self-esteem movement, known for such slogans as “Believe in yourself” and “Believe in your dream,” has created a culture of self-obsession. 
    ………………………………………………………………………….News flash!

    Is this anything new? That’s to me America right there.
    Isn’t it what a lot of people are like in the USA, regardless of sexes? One thing that always fascinated me there was that, so many people talked about god, yet so many of them where so far away from any kind of spiritualism. Anytime I entered a bar, a restaurant, a classroom, a public place, you name it, most people where, more often than not, talking about themselves, instead of meeting each other, regardless of the situation (dates, work or family social interactions, etc). It’s as if they where all saying out loud something like „Me too, I have a life, I did this, I achieved that!“, etc.
    The shocking reality was that absolutely everything was money driven, closely controlled by corporate America, and not by democracy as it once was put forth.
    This post is, in my view, a little bit biased in a feminine way, pointing at male narcissism, best examplified by that hint to the “you’re so vain” song. I found girls very much as vain and self centered as the boys over there, and, starting from high school, a culture pushing people towards a sense of over achievement, never achievable for many, and already putting into teenagers’ minds those dreadful tendencies of classifying individuals into name calling categories, such as the winner, the loser, the popular one, the druggy, the nerd, the cheerleader, and so on. I was there also fascinated by the “group culture” thing, and the importance put on competitive sport, which took half of the day’s time. From what I experienced in Indianapolis, learning was based on scantron sheets test in the morning, and the afternoon dedicated to those sporting/group activities. It went even further as some kind of sociological farce when it came to rituals such as the homecoming queen, and worst of all, Proms, which allowed me to see the worst of human behavior at such an early stage of life, starting with envy, jealousy, nagging, throwing out money out to each others face to show or prove who was the prettiest or most successful. I also took part in that comedy, and was more than well received, as the foreign „French boy“, yet taking a rather privileged yet jaundiced role in that play….
    I find a bit strange the fact that, when engaging about narcissicism, a critical look at some of the worst and yet obvious sociological aspects of America is not put into the picture either….

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Damien

      This post is, in my view, a little bit biased in a feminine way, pointing at male narcissism, best examplified by that hint to the “you’re so vain” song

      That was unintentional. In fact, I specifically used both genders in the final advice to avoid giving that impression. The song just popped into my head as I was writing and I went with it.

      It went even further as some kind of sociological farce when it came to rituals such as the homecoming queen, and worst of all, Proms, which allowed me to see the worst of human behavior at such an early stage of life, starting with envy, jealousy, nagging, throwing out money out to each others face to show or prove who was the prettiest or most successful.

      This is fair criticism, and yet here you attack some very embedded aspects of American culture that go way back to a time where modesty and humility were encouraged. Perhaps because we do not have royalty or aristocrats, Americans have created ways to single out “the best.” The creation of the Greek system in colleges, which was originally spurred by gay males, became a way of ascending to a higher class based on one’s ability to attract the opposite sex.

      I can imagine how girls must have fawned over the handsome French boy in their midst.

      I find a bit strange the fact that, when engaging about narcissicism, a critical look at some of the worst and yet obvious sociological aspects of America is not put into the picture either….

      Well, Twenge is the country’s top expert in the study of narcissism in young people. She does address the self-esteem movement, which is clearly a key factor in the rise of narcissism.

  • GudEnuf

    Posts like this remind me why I’m glad to be done with college. Every fool I knew was going to save the world (but not before grad school).

    One classmate earnestly told me that he was planning to be a senator one day. I asked him what policies he would run on and he was taken aback. After ten minutes all I could get out of him was that he wanted to do something with nuclear energy.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @GudEnuf

      One classmate earnestly told me that he was planning to be a senator one day. I asked him what policies he would run on and he was taken aback. After ten minutes all I could get out of him was that he wanted to do something with nuclear energy.

      That is hilarious. He’s thought all about the title, but not about the work. He’d better get to work on his platform.

  • JP

    “From what I experienced in Indianapolis, learning was based on scantron sheets test in the morning, and the afternoon dedicated to those sporting/group activities.”

    Was watching the movie Hoosiers required on a monthly or bi-monthly basis?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoosiers

  • Richard Aubrey

    “That’s a brutally clear and unambiguous way–coaches’ blind spots or favoritism aside–to find out where you stand. Just finding it out, even if you’re at the top, is useful, because, among other things, even at the top you know how you got there and how somebody else can better you.”

    Uh, yeah. You generally got there because of genetics.

    JP. I suppose so. Certainly, genetics would take you out of the running. But having the genetics, and knowing it, is something to know about oneself.
    However. My son had the genetics to be all-conf football, bball, and tennis, captain and mvp of the latter two. But had he not worked his ass off, skill camps, weights in his room, running and running from about the seventh grade, somebody else would have been top. I knew the guys who were next best on those teams, being a booster and team parent.
    But when he got to the local all-star game, he found out–although I’m sure he already knew–who was better.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    Bastiat…”If you know you have narcissistic tendencies, you should try to harness this by actively seeking out groups that will humble you in relevant performance domains”

    But if you *know* you have narcissistic tendencies, you’re probably not all that much of a narcissist!

    I do think that engaging in activities that give immediate, unmistakeable performance feedback tend to militate against narcissism. You may think you’re Joe Cool Sailor, but if you keep running the boat into the pilings while trying to dock, it’s going to be hard to sustain that view of yourself.

  • http://gravatar.com/p PVW

    One of the best cures against it arises when they get into college or graduate school and suddenly realize that although they were the best of those in their high school class, all the other students around them were also the best. So now they have to find their way in a new order among the best of the best. I’ve had plenty of students crying in my office over the years once they realize that.

  • Jesse

    Susan (34),

    The best part of Back on the Chain Gang is the second part of the chorus. She sings ‘and we’re back on the train, yeah’ and then the guitar quickly plays through some chords leading up to (but not playing) D, which is the key of the song. She then sings ‘ohh-oh-ohh, back on the chain gang’.

    It’s possible she only sings two oh’s in the song, but when I sing I often make small alterations or additions to the music. It’s unconscious. Anyway, the three oh’s are D, E and C#. The thing I love about this is that it ends on the seventh note of the scale (C#), just a half-step away from that tantalizing resolution to D.

    It can be very satisfying to leave a piece of music so very close to resolution. For example, the melody for the song In My Life by the Beatles, perhaps the best melody ever created to my mind, also opens on its root note A (actually twice, once at each end of the octave), and ends on the seventh, G#.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jesse

      Whoa, that musical knowledge is a total tingle factor, I hope you’re maximizing that.

      Agree with you about the chorus on BOTCG, but your technical explanation went over my head. :)

  • Damien Vulaume

    @JP
    At the same time I do not want to look as someone despising the midwest, which was on the one hand riddled with sheer ignorance and bigotry, and on the other hand filled with some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. Most of them meant well, but had never had any chance to know anyting better. It is maybe easy for you to scorn those people, but I for myself don’t…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i_QIIOplo4

  • JP

    In high school, one of my hobbies was going over to my friend’s farm and milking the cows.

    I would get up at 5 am so that I could play “farm”.

    You know, the kind of game where you plug the Auto-milkers into the cows.

    Not “Farmville.”

    “Farm.”

    The problem I have with Indiana is having to listen to how wonderful Indiana was and how horrible Pennsylvania was because we didn’t have real basketball.

  • http://gravatar.com/pioneervalleywoman PVW

    Looking at the essay again, it is interesting; I’m seeing these students after their freshman year; so perhaps they have had it beaten out of them once they arrive in my classroom?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Looking at the essay again, it is interesting; I’m seeing these students after their freshman year; so perhaps they have had it beaten out of them once they arrive in my classroom?

      That’s a great point! I wonder what would happen if you measured narcissism in seniors?

  • JP

    @PVW:

    “One of the best cures against it arises when they get into college or graduate school and suddenly realize that although they were the best of those in their high school class, all the other students around them were also the best. So now they have to find their way in a new order among the best of the best. I’ve had plenty of students crying in my office over the years once they realize that.”

    I’m certain this was one of the reasons that I gave up on life in college.

    Since I could no longer succeed effortlessly, I retreated to my dorm room and closed the door to my mauseleum, knowing that I no longer had an identity or any value and waited for my life to end.

  • JP

    “Looking at the essay again, it is interesting; I’m seeing these students after their freshman year; so perhaps they have had it beaten out of them once they arrive in my classroom?”

    I think it just causes bitterness and a general hatred of life itself.

    But that could just be my experience.

  • Damien Vulaume

    @JP
    You know, the kind of game where you plug the Auto-milkers into the cows.

    Milking cows in Indianapolis, seriously? You sound like some of the most dreadful Parisians I have ever met. I don’t like ignorant elitism, I think you should have noticed that by now. Once again, step out of your bubble and “sniff” the world around you.

  • tito

    vaccine against narcissism? it’s called patriarchy/civilization.

  • Richard Aubrey

    I live in the midwest. Wouldn’t live elsewhere, although Texas is tempting, except for the climate.
    One thing about midwesterners is that, while hospitable, we don’t take people at their own valuation. We’re polite about it and all, but after they leave, shaking of heads and rolling of eyes.
    Anyway, we’re in flyover country where our motto is, “Keep flying. Our airport’s broken.”

  • Mike M.

    One has to strike a careful balance here. To perform any task well, it is essential to have confidence in your ability. To KNOW that you WILL win that Olympic medal. See Lanny Bassham’s book “With Winning in Mind” for details.

    On the other hand, a lot of these kids have been fed a truckload of cheap praise. And it’s often the highest performers who have the lowest self-confidence. Highly gifted people frequently feel like they are a sham waiting to be caught. Which they sometimes are – but only because they got handed an impossible problem.

  • Damien Vulaume

    @Richard Aubrey:
    One thing about midwesterners is that, while hospitable, we don’t take people at their own valuation. We’re polite about it and all, but after they leave, shaking of heads and rolling of eyes.

    You’re probably talking about the univeral human hypocrisy? I experienced the midwest version of it first hand. Nothing worse nor better than anywhere else.. only coloured by its own local version. Where do you leave in the midwest, if I may ask?

  • VJ

    Yes, and This too: (Just found):

    The Unbearable Lightness of Girls
    Most men won’t be allowed to admit this, but the new HBO show is a disastrous celebration of entitlement and helplessness
    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/96265/the-unbearable-lightness-of-girls

    Again, oh so familiar somehow. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • http://dannyfrom504.wordpress.com dannyfrom504

    i’ll text you later, you GOTTA hear what happened to me.

    i’ve commented about this on my site. the kids coming into the military are CLUELESS. they are the most entitled, self-worshiping POS i’ve ever seen.

    and the females. DEAR GOD. DO NOT get me started.

    when i came in you were NOTHING until you hit E4. you NEVER questioned what a senior told you. now i have to exlain WHY i want someone to do something. *sigh* everyone one i know that’s senior enlisted have pointed it out as well.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Damien,
    Not about the universal hypocrisy. Some about people who think they’re hot stuff. Some about people who think the midwest is Deliverance territory.
    No, I won’t tell you where I live. But you see behind my pic? That’s my front yard.
    Everybody would want to come here.

  • VD

    The irony is that, in the end, narcissism leads to failure, not success.

    Absolutely not. It will either lead to failure or success. It all depends upon if the narcissism is successfully channeled. I am a narcissist, and once I conquered my fear of failure, I found that I was able to channel my narcissism and use it as an engine to do things that most people find hard to imagine. For example, there are a relatively small number of people who can write a good 850-page novel. But it requires a complete narcissist to decide he’s going to do it in eight months. In his spare time.

    “Alphas,” i.e. cads. The “Alphas” I’ve met collapse around women when they actually have feelings for them. Bluster on top, weakness underneath.

    Give it up, Bob. You’ve been shown to be wrong on this again and again. The socio-sexual hierarchy exists no matter how much you’d like to wish it away.

    The guy with cocky bluster is more likely to be below average than anything really special, and he almost certainly has an inflated view of his own talents.

    That is true, but the key word is “more likely”. Keep in mind that if you roll craps, you’ve just handed the genuinely accomplished narcissist his license to publicly humiliate you. Ask to confirm your suspicions of hollowness rather than assuming them.

    Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.

    Well put.

    Those rare and extraordinary people may be emotionally stunted, i.e. low empathy, but they will be successful against challenges to “put up or shut up.” I suppose if anyone deserves to say they are the absolute best, it’s those folks. Obama is clearly one of those.

    Absolutely to the first sentence. Absolutely not to the last one. Obama, or if you prefer, Soetero or Soebarkah, is a complete and utter fraud. He has accomplished NOTHING on his own. He didn’t even write his own books.

    If I had to rate their overall intelligence, I would rate them Obama < Bill < Hillary < Dellinger.

    Not even close. We can be very confident that Bill and Hillary are both at least +1 SD smarter than Obama. He has a hard cap on his IQ of 129, well below both Bill and Hillary, due to his failure to qualify for any National Merit status. Because he went to Punahou, there is virtually no chance that he did not take the PSAT back when it was an accurate proxy for an IQ test. I’ve estimated his IQ to be around 116 on the basis of various factors; two of my past posts on the subject are the source of that oft-cited low-end figure that appears on a number of Answer web sites.

    Have you ever heard the man speak, or better yet, attempt to deal with unscripted questions without a teleprompter? There is a very good reason he hasn’t given press conferences like all of his predecessors. He’s not stupid, but he’s far from brilliant.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @VD

      That is true, but the key word is “more likely”. Keep in mind that if you roll craps, you’ve just handed the genuinely accomplished narcissist his license to publicly humiliate you.

      Absolutely. I chose those words with care. It is not a sure thing by any means. But I make a lot of judgment calls around filtering – in this case, don’t lose your head over someone with supreme self-confidence until you know if they can back it up. Even then, as you are well aware, the narcissism is still something that will affect the relationship. (I say this as someone who scored embarrassingly high on the NPI.)

      Re Obama, I think his trajectory alone makes him rare and extraordinary. If he’s been able to achieve what he has fraudulently by getting everyone else to do the heavy lifting, well that’s a skill in and of itself.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Obama won two elections by having divorce proceedings unsealed. Illegal as hell. We have him as POTUS due to Jeri Ryan’s scruples. How tawdry.

  • JP

    “Milking cows in Indianapolis, seriously? You sound like some of the most dreadful Parisians I have ever met. I don’t like ignorant elitism, I think you should have noticed that by now. Once again, step out of your bubble and “sniff” the world around you.”

    I’m the one who milked cows in rural Pennsylvania, genius.

    I’ve never been to Indianapolis.

    My father grew up on a farm.

    I’m from the T part of Pennsylvania and I’ve never lived in a city larger than the one I live in now, which only has about 100,000 people.

    I’m not exactly liberal, so to speak.

  • JP

    “Not even close.”

    I was just saying that of the four, Obama was the least intelligent.

    That was my only point with that one.

  • JP

    @VD:

    ” I am a narcissist, and once I conquered my fear of failure, I found that I was able to channel my narcissism and use it as an engine to do things that most people find hard to imagine. For example, there are a relatively small number of people who can write a good 850-p

    age novel. But it requires a complete narcissist to decide he’s going to do it in eight months. In his spare time.”

    I hate to break it to you, but you’re not a narcissist in the sense of narcissistic personality disorder.

    I know that might hurt your self-concept, but really, you are an intelligent accomplished novelist, not a narcissist.

    I think that the word you are looking for is polymath, not narcissist.

    I will agree that you are a polymath.

  • JP

    “That is hilarious. He’s thought all about the title, but not about the work. He’d better get to work on his platform.”

    I remember trying to figure out how to become representative at 25, senator at 30, and president by 35 because those were the Constitutional age requirements.

    My thinking was that I needed a ton of money so that I could self-finance my campaigns.

    Ah, the conceits of youth…

  • http://gravatar.com/pioneervalleywoman PVW

    It seems to me that once they become seniors, there aren’t as much of the narcissistic tendencies. Still self-absorbed, numbers of them, without question, but they have had to deal with the realities of disappointment. They didn’t get accepted into the great graduate program or didn’t get the great job. They might have some debts and worries. I think that is reflected in recent news stories about younger people today being worried about the future. Yet, lots of their anxieties have a narcissistic flavor as well, the sense of entitlement, from helicopter parenting and always getting everything when they wanted it. It can be jarring when reality doesn’t follow….How dare things not go my way???? Why aren’t you catering to me????

  • VD

    I was just saying that of the four, Obama was the least intelligent.

    My mistake. I read them as arrows, not less than symbols, in part because Bill is smarter than Hillary, albeit considerably less self-disciplined. Notice that both Clintons were National Merit, Bill being a Semifinalist and Hillary being a Finalist. There is, however, no significance to being one or the other, as beyond Semifinalist other factors apply. Obama, on the other hand, was not.

    I hate to break it to you, but you’re not a narcissist in the sense of narcissistic personality disorder.

    No, that’s true. More narcissistic than the norm would probably be a better way of putting it. I only scored a 23/40 on the NPI test; I seem to recall Susan’s score was above average as well. My main point there is that in some cases, one can use one’s personality flaws for beneficial purposes.

    In the same way Michael Jordan found a way to take imaginary offense at his opponents in order to provide himself with motivation that was otherwise lacking, the quasi-narcissist may need people to not believe in him in order to succeed.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      I only scored a 23/40 on the NPI test; I seem to recall Susan’s score was above average as well

      Haha, I scored a 24! I have no idea what to do with this information. I’m a bigger narcissist than Vox Day. I might put that on a t-shirt.

  • JP

    “That’s a great point! I wonder what would happen if you measured narcissism in seniors?”

    I tell my sisters that my college graduation felt like a funeral.

    However, I’m unlike most people.

    My GPA went from a 3.75 to about 1 .75 as college progressed and I slowly collapsed.

    A lot of it has to do with removing the structure of daily life from people.

    You are thrown from a very structured environment where you had significant emotional support and close personal relations basically into a social-emotional desert.

    It’s essentially a kind of trauma and does not seem to be the best way to transition people into adulthood because you are essentially stripped of your life when you go to college.

  • JP

    “More narcissistic than the norm would probably be a better way of putting it. I only scored a 23/40 on the NPI test; I seem to recall Susan’s score was above average as well. My main point there is that in some cases, one can use one’s personality flaws for beneficial purposes.”

    Have you ever had to deal with people with actual NPD?

    I avoid them like the plague, along with borderline personality disorders.

    You are well within the realm of healthy human function from a narcissism perspective.

  • JP

    “If he’s been able to achieve what he has fraudulently by getting everyone else to do the heavy lifting, well that’s a skill in and of itself.”

    Mostly it was about being the right person in the right place at the right time.

  • JP

    “Haha, I scored a 24! I have no idea what to do with this information. I’m a bigger narcissist than Vox Day. I might put that on a t-shirt.”

    Yeah. Because, as I pointed , out, he not a narcissist.

    Just like you went to Wharton and were a consultant, which, shockingly, meant that you had solid intelligence and could apply your intelligence in a productive manner.

    In today’s metaphysical lesson, we learn that being actually successful because you know what you are doing and *knowing* your level of skill and competence are not “narcissism”.

  • VD

    Have you ever had to deal with people with actual NPD?

    Possibly one, and another with what I very strongly suspect to be clinical sociopathy.

    I avoid them like the plague, along with borderline personality disorders.

    Exactly. There is no other solution.

  • http://www.rosehope.com/ Hope

    Test scores and IQ doesn’t mean much in general. Social skills are much more important, and Bill has that way over Hillary. If Hillary had been even 50% as charismatic as Bill, she would be president.

  • JP

    “Social skills are much more important, and Bill has that way over Hillary. If Hillary had been even 50% as charismatic as Bill, she would be president.”

    I’m pretty sure that Bill couldn’t really function without Hillary.

    I don’t think that Hillary needs Bill in the same way.

    What I’m saying is that Hillary was a *necessary* condition for Bill’s success.

  • Mike M.

    Ah, but is Vox not a narcissist…or a narcissist who has dialed in compensation for it? Sometimes the humblest man is really breathtakingly arrogant, but goes out of his way to humble himself.

  • tito

    Corporal punishment as children would go a great way towards helping narcissists snap out of a little as they grow up also.

  • Mike M.

    With regard to vaccination, exposure to excellence helps a lot. Nothing knocks the arrogance out of someone quite as well as knowing there’s someone else who can do better.

  • JP

    “Ah, but is Vox not a narcissist…or a narcissist who has dialed in compensation for it? Sometimes the humblest man is really breathtakingly arrogant, but goes out of his way to humble himself.”

    No.

    Arrogant – “Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.”

    His sense of his own skill and ability seem to be generally in line with reality, at least when it comes to writing novels.

    He’s a fast and competent writer who writes readable books that people like.

    He also has significant intelligence and is able to apply his intelligence to achieve success in other areas other than writing novels.

    Now, I disagree with some of his assumptions on certain matters, but that doesn’t make him “arrogant” or “narcissistic”.

    He also seems to be straighforward and honest about his abilities. So, if he says “I can do X”, I am inclined to believe that is is able to accomplish X.

  • VD

    He also seems to be straighforward and honest about his abilities. So, if he says “I can do X”, I am inclined to believe that is is able to accomplish X.

    It’s remarkable how having hundreds, if not thousands, of people breathlessly awaiting your failure and eager to rub it in your face really helps you bear down and focus. That being said, one year was an achievement. Eight months is freaking ludicrous. I’ll be a little shocked if I can actually pull it off. But there is only one way to find out.

    I’m not sure if that definition of arrogant is really all that useful, however. None of us truly knows what we can do until we find ourselves pushed out of our comfort zones one way or another.

    I’m saying is that Hillary was a *necessary* condition for Bill’s success.

    Almost certainly. He’d have been perfectly happy as the mayor of a small town in Arkansas, hitting on the beauty pageant winners.

  • JP

    “That being said, one year was an achievement. Eight months is freaking ludicrous. I’ll be a little shocked if I can actually pull it off. But there is only one way to find out.”

    You are trying to do something that may or may not be at the outer envelope of competency.

    That’s an experiment; that’s not arrogance.

  • Russ in Texas

    @Susan,

    Since you were mentioning NPI — I mentioned that I was high for Macchiavellian traits, but unusually low here? Last time I took it, I scored a *2*.

    @JP,

    Agreed. It seems that the Sword of Damocles suits him.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Russ

      Since you were mentioning NPI — I mentioned that I was high for Macchiavellian traits, but unusually low here? Last time I took it, I scored a *2*.

      I really don’t have a good sense of how the Dark Triad traits play off one another, or what the correlations are. I figure to be seriously Dark Triad – a really bad person – you’d need all three in good measure.

      I’m having trouble figuring out how you could be Machiavellian if you had high empathy, though.

  • Damien Vulaume

    @Mike M
    Sometimes the humblest man is really breathtakingly arrogant, but goes out of his way to humble himself.

    Yes, very true. However, your Napoleon pic troubles me. :-)

    @Susan
    you attack some very embedded aspects of American culture that go way back to a time where modesty and humility were encouraged. Perhaps because we do not have royalty or aristocrats, Americans have created ways to single out “the best.” The creation of the Greek system in colleges, which was originally spurred by gay males, became a way of ascending to a higher class based on one’s ability to attract the opposite sex.

    Ah.., I never thought about it that way, although I should have. Very interesting. But you’re a middle aged woman so things must not have been that different when you where in high school, regarding the prom thing, which was to me something extremely appauling, culturally speaking. Your analogy with the Greeks is a bit terrifying (spurred by gay males). And I don’t know if and also hope that it is not relevant to our present culture. Food for thoughts here, though.

    @JP
    Where ever you’re from is fine with me. I obviously misread your quote. That bloody Latin impulsivity got me at times in so many troubles there… Close to fist fights with guys, and passionate crisis with girls. The “Anglo-saxon culture” is still as of today something of a foreign “animal” to me. :-)

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Damien

      Your analogy with the Greeks is a bit terrifying (spurred by gay males)

      Please read this post I wrote three years ago, I would love to discuss it with you. I compare and contrast the American male, e.g. Jon Hamm, with the French male, e.g. Melvil Poupaud.

      Why Are American Men Sexually Insecure?

      It highlights some of the same observations you’ve made about the way Americans approach relationships, and it also gives the history of fraternities, which I think you will find interesting.

  • http://uncabob.blogspot.com/ Bob

    @ VD

    “Give it up, Bob. You’ve been shown to be wrong on this again and again.”

    Bluster on top, weakness underneath.

    I see it a lot on short, physically weak guys who lift weights to make up for their feelings of humiliation.

    Sounds personally familiar, VD?

  • Damien Vulaume

    Bluster on top, weakness underneath.

    I see it a lot on short, physically weak guys who lift weights to make up for their feelings of humiliation.

    +1. Now you got me rolling on the floor laughing. And a lot of girls who swallowed their own red pill could tell you a lot about that, starting with my own sister….
    One of her former boyfriend was a corsican motorbike riding guy (although they both lived and met in Paris). He was doing well in the cooking world (a top rated French chef) yet feeling diminished by his frail built. His bathroom looked more like a gym room than a place where you wash yourself. In the end he went close to physically hitting my sister. I heard about that and, although I’m first diplomatic, I never came as close as killing somebody. The guy was, by society’s standards, a “winner”, but an emotional loser, and a real threat for girls.

  • Sai

    “Nothing I hate more than some average joe or jane that thinks they’re king shit.”

    That’s one of the main reasons I can’t stand reality TV.

    “MGTOWs think that withdrawing from relationships will somehow make them better.”

    It will make them safer from some nasty tactics, though.

    “The people who are mad about the “destruction of the West” don’t realize that they need to be busy figuring out a way forward without looking in the rear view mirror and complaining about how the present is degenerate. It’s not like we haven’t seen a ton of high culures peak and decline before.”

    True, but we haven’t had to live through invasions of Vikings/Turks/Mongols… I’ll stop before I get too sad/paranoid.

    I think the answer is honesty.
    There’s no harm in telling someone they aren’t as smart, strong, popular, pretty, etc., and then they will (should) either strive to improve, or realize they should butt out. (Of course, if it goes too far then the subject ends up with inadequacy and/or jealousy issues, so I guess there needs to be a balance of honesty and… uh…)

  • Russ in Texas

    A balance of honesty and care for the context and situation of the person on the receiving end of the honesty.

    For this reason sometimes the buddhist monks will punish a monk who’s NOT a more emotionally-fragile monk who committed the fault — when the switch lands, the selected monk can take it and persevere, the one who committed the offense is corrected and improves without suffering what for him would be a counterproductive trauma.

    Context counts.

  • JP

    “True, but we haven’t had to live through invasions of Vikings/Turks/Mongols… I’ll stop before I get too sad/paranoid.”

    You do realize that the West helped the Turks to rise by smashing apart Byzantium, right?

    Yeah, shredding Constantinople was a really great idea. Just destroy one of the best cities in Europe. Way to go, crusaders.

  • Ian

    27 when I’m in good physical shape, assuming you’re talking about this test.

    It’s important to remember that psychological terms describe people, but don’t define them. A “narcissist” not a defined thing; a different kind of word than a “rock” or “leg”. This test, in particular, is a bit of a “social twinge” test for things that people tend to dislike in other people. I pictured a group of townies asking me if I thought I was better than them.

    The “real thing” in what people have named “narcissism” or “Dark Triad” generally, would be some sort of brain dysfunction or abnormal development related to empathy, self-control, or self-awareness. I don’t care if someone has delusional self-confidence. It’s, on the other hand, extremely creepy when someone hollow-eyed and grinning has most of the women, townies, and voters fooled.

  • Russ in Texas

    @JP,

    Byzantium gets a lot of “oh, woes is us, those eeeeevil westerners” but conveniently for them, it’s forgotten that the Doge was blind because the Byzantines received his embassy, had him blinded, and then expelled him, just because they could.

  • VD

    Bluster on top, weakness underneath. I see it a lot on short, physically weak guys who lift weights to make up for their feelings of humiliation. Sounds personally familiar, VD?

    Ah, the passive-aggressiveness of the gamma is always such a joy to behold. No, Bob, as Susan has even pointed out, even the most narcissistic can back it up. You’re a classic example of a man of low socio-sexual rank desperately trying to tear down the entire hierarchy because he hates his place in it. Instead of constantly sniping at your superiors, why not utilize Game and emulate them?

    And no, it’s not personally familiar. You seem to be unaware that I was an elite athlete from a young age. I still compete at a respectable level; just this season I outscored a striker who played for his national team two goals to nil. Granted, he was only very briefly an international, but still, he has a couple of caps to his credit.

  • VD

    Yeah, shredding Constantinople was a really great idea. Just destroy one of the best cities in Europe. Way to go, crusaders.

    In fairness, it was the Venetians who talked them into it. But you’re right, it was one of the epic disasters of history.

  • JP

    “Byzantium gets a lot of “oh, woes is us, those eeeeevil westerners” but conveniently for them, it’s forgotten that the Doge was blind because the Byzantines received his embassy, had him blinded, and then expelled him, just because they could.”

    My point was that shredding Byzantium was bad for the West.

    I’m not saying Byzantium was bright, either. It wasn’t smart for Justinian to shred Italy. The Ostrogoth’s weren’t really doing anything that was that annoying and there was a much better way to deal with that, too. Yeah, the Lombards were such an improvement. Morons. The Vandals I can understand. That was smart. The Ostrogoths? They were the best thing going for you.

    However, the Byzantines were *always* snooty jerks. That was just how they were when dealing with any parts to the west. It wasn’t like they were nice and cuddly one day and then sociopathic the next.

    There was a much better way to deal with the problem than shredding the Roman Empire because you were mad at it. They were a buffer state, you geniuses.

    And now we get to watch Outremer go down. Again.

    That’s going to be unpleasant.

  • Mike M.

    @ Damien 85

    Someone finally recognized the pic! :-)

  • Damien Vulaume

    @Russ
    A balance of honesty and care for the context and situation of the person on the receiving end of the honesty.

    That kind of “feminine” statement has never made the world more balanced either.

  • Sai

    Re: Constantinople
    I never said the West never screwed up (everyone has), I only said I have been fortunate enough so far to not watch the area where I live get crushed by somebody else, and am not looking forward to attempting to live through that.

  • JP

    “I have been fortunate enough so far to not watch the area where I live get crushed by somebody else, and am not looking forward to attempting to live through that.”

    Then think about to Moscow.

    Or St. Petersburg.

    (Depending on what happens during the next Awakening era there)

  • Russ in Texas

    @Susan,

    I wouldn’t consider the two incompatible; sociopathy would be, so far as I know. I took a battery of this stuff once, as I was a test case for a psych thesis. I rated stupid-low on narcisissim, and high-macchiavellian on the Mach-IV.

    @Damien,

    I apparently missed that we were trying to figure out how to balance the whole world. That’s beyond my pay-scale; I simply consider it good salesmanship.

  • Damien Vulaume

    Russ
    I apparently missed that we were trying to figure out how to balance the whole world. That’s beyond my pay-scale; I simply consider it good salesmanship.

    Oops, looks like I offended someone else on here again.
    I had not the slightest pretention of balancing the whole world, which is also beyond my pay-scale, but rather commenting on the male/female eternal differences. It’s funny that the both of us seem to agree on many things yet often bypass each other.
    Anyway, here’s a link to a great Czech animated short film for you and everybody here about man’s condition. It’s from Jan Švankmajer, the leading surrealist artist in the Czech Republic. Take a look everybody, it only lasts 8 minutes and is by no means anything close to the epurated Dysney stuff.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFUwX4-nsQU

  • Russ in Texas

    Not even slightly offended. We’re good.

  • Abbot
  • Jesse

    For a long time the word narcissism made me think of scissors.

    Then again, I will take solace in the fact that one of the Miss America contestants thought euthanasia was a vaccine. In her defense I suppose dying is the cure for a lot of things.

  • Abbot

    “She says that dating the cowboy taught her to reject second-wave feminism’s disdain for the feminine.”

    So no wonder the feminists are freaked out –

    http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/woman-rejects-feminism-continues-to-disdain-femininity/266889/

    .

  • JP

    “I wouldn’t consider the two incompatible; sociopathy would be, so far as I know. I took a battery of this stuff once, as I was a test case for a psych thesis. I rated stupid-low on narcisissim, and high-macchiavellian on the Mach-IV.”

    I’m definitely mid to low-mach.

    So I’m very oriented to nice, in the sense of “blue pill” nice that people talk about here. In fact, everyone should be harmonious and good and happy. There should be no swearing, no un-niceness, no violence, no domination. I’m very white bread. No edge here. I’m not a rebel or a punk or a rocker.

    However, I have INFJ tendencies at times, which means that if I think you being “not nice”, or high mach, or sociopathic…

    Well, I don’t like that at all.

    No, I find that distinctly… unacceptable. And depending on your crime, whether that crime be interpersonal emotional manipulation, or just plain selfishness, or other naughtiness…well, I’ve never really considered myself bound by human convention when there are certain problems that cry out for solutions.

    Granted, it has to be severe enough to really annoy me. To the point I’m angry enough to solve the problem so that it stays solved.

    And at the end of the day, I really only take orders from just one person.

    Me.

    I kind of like the quotes from the computer game Torment (although it is a little darker than I would be and I’m really not into violence, it kind of gets my point across, metaphorically speaking):

    “Start with a fragment of the enemy. A drop of blood. A crystalized though. One of their hopes. All of these things tell the way it can die.

    All that exists can die. Every living thing has a weapon against it has no defense. Time. Disease. Iron. Guilt.”

  • Ion

    RE staying away from people with full fledged NPD, it’s tricky because people with NPD only show their true colors when others are dependent on them (like to their children), otherwise, they gladly trample on others when it suits their interests, but it isn’t always clear whether or not someone has NPD or is just a douchebag.

    My mother has full blown NPD, and keeping with the tradition of siblings of NPD, one is a narcissist, one refuses to speak with her and hasn’t in 20 years, and two of us were raised to have no self worth/social issues and still speak to her–so we’re the “positive” examples.

    When people say narcissist, they think of vanity, but they don’t seem to realize the pervasive physical/verbal abuse that comes with parents with NPD. They literally have no conscience so they are pathological liars. They also feed off of others emotionally, and are happy when you’re in pain. I’ve never had a time where I was going through a crisis, i.e., breakups, failure, etc., where my mother didn’t smile and say something along the lines of “well God doesn’t love you anyway, why are you so surprised?”. My mom has always been heavily involved in clergy, and is wealthy because of the charisma that comes along with this disorder.

    My brother and I were trotted out as token examples of how good my mothers parenting was the other day. We both did well in terms of grades and seem to be doing OK. Unfortunately, that’s because we were raised to be docile conformers, have no backbone and no real self-identity. This is the “best” example of what a NPD parent can hope to raise.

    I agree with the commenter who said patriarchy can help cure narcissm. I’ve always agreed with the argument that we learn empathy from our fathers. Fathers provide things like discipline, boundaries and rules. Every last NPD I’ve met (and people with parents of NPD seem to attract that) didn’t have a good father as a role model. The father either quietly enabled the mother to carry on abuse or he wasn’t there. Most criminals come from single parent households, and even if the mother was great to them, no father. If not for having a good father, my brother and I might have become full-fledged narcissists.

  • Ion

    “I hate to break it to you, but you’re not a narcissist in the sense of narcissistic personality disorder.”

    Agree with this, and most of what you wrote thus far JP.

    If you’re a true narcissist, why would you feel the need to visit a self-improvement forum, since you’re perfect?

  • pennies

    Happy Sunday Susan!

    There’s a fun article about technology, narcissism, and Millennials in the NYT Styles section today. It starts with one woman’s story about an OKCupid prospect who asked her to hold her Friday evening for a date and then failed to contact her until well in the evening. He finally got in touch at 10pm by text. He asked her to join him for a drink with his college buddies. She passed.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/the-end-of-courtship.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    I haven’t been in the dating scene for a few years, but when I was (in Manhattan and Brooklyn) I was astonished by how often this behavior passed for acceptable. Shouldn’t we always be considering that other people have lives, friends, work schedules, desires to keep the date reasonable in terms of commute, etc… My friends and I met quite a few guys who thought nothing of asking a woman they didn’t know well to transport herself to an inconvenient neighborhood at an odd hour to meet with the guy plus a group of friends. Even though the premise — hang out with a group of fun professionals, have a few giggles, flirt a bit — seemed harmless enough on its face, it was all about convenience for the guy. I would always turn down anyone who wanted to squeeze in a meeting in a way that was extremely convenient to his schedule and location. My current guy won me over with his willingness to plan in advance and show up on time. It’s a form of empathy and was such a breath of fresh air. We are both Midwesterners originally and often joke about our polite roots.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Pennies

      Thanks for the tip – that article definitely matches the reports I hear from young women, though there are some exceptions, like your guy. I think is MUST write about it!

  • JP

    ” My mom has always been heavily involved in clergy, and is wealthy because of the charisma that comes along with this disorder.”

    This would be an example of the type of problem that…annoys me.

  • http://happycrow.wordpress.com Russ in Texas

    JP,

    Never played Planescape: Torment, though I played the hell out of the Gold Box series, and actually administer a small and niche (considerably adult, and by that I don’t mean “adult,” nwn2 gameworld). Been considering whether to do my next novel in that direction or to jump to historical fiction.

    Though not usually a fan of musicals, this had an influence on my teenage self.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jB07PIXap0

    The entire work is quite good, but the Broadway script was considerably dumbed-down from the far-superior London version. This version lags a bit in the beat.

  • pennies

    @ Susan,

    My bf and I are not Millennials – we’re late 30s. And I should say that while I had a lot of silly dating experiences, I also had a lot of pleasant ones and I always could find men who wanted to go out on dinner dates and talk about careers, art, music, etc.

    I think if I was in my twenties now, I would lose my mind. I like cities a lot and have always lived in one, but I am so out of step with urban norms. People really do think nothing of canceling plans five minutes before they happen. It’s like participation in tech culture has somehow robbed us of the ability to imagine other people as separate, equally valuable beings who can’t magically teleport from one location to another. It’s so disappointing to spend forty-five minutes on the subway to get somewhere only to be waved off via text. Do that to me more than once and I may be sweet to you at a party, but I won’t make social plans with you ever again…

  • http://happycrow.wordpress.com Russ in Texas

    Pennies:

    That sort of thing is precisely the reason I was never able to get into urban culture (stateside at least — in Tokyo, Budapest, and Rome, that was *not* acceptable behavior…dunno about elsewhere).

  • JP

    “Never played Planescape: Torment”

    Amusingly enough, neither did I, and I doubt that I ever will. I just liked some of the concepts in Planescape.

    I liked the question: “What can change the nature of a man?”

    I think in terms of moral planes, which is kind of how I see reality.

    Everything from The Abyss to Mount Celestia.

    Sort of like Dante.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Comedy

    And kind of like Jain thinking.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jain_universe.JPG

    The lower vertical and higher vertical.

    Not to be confused with the horizontal plane upon which we live.

  • pennies

    “Tokyo, Budapest, and Rome, that was *not* acceptable behavior…”

    I hope that continues to be true generations from now. I do think smart phones somehow limit our ability to ‘imagine’ others as real people with their own needs.

  • JP

    @Russ:

    I think the best way to describe my inner world growing up is that “I got my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqZCGTe5ISQ

    So, the entire point of “Game” would have been lost on me in my college days.

    My father kept trying to figure out whether I was gay.

    Uh, no.

    I just couldn’t see why I would want to “chase tail”. It simply wasn’t relevant to my purposes beyond a certain number of girls over the years who I could count on one hand.

  • JP

    Here’s a good example of holding then winning hand when playing cards with the devil (my avatar):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rVFse1LLQs

    That move had some good scenes even with Keanu Reeves as the main character.

  • http://happycrow.wordpress.com Russ in Texas

    I mislike the hierarchical planes concept, because the entire Socratic line is upside-down: the entire concept is nothing put an Aesop — the old men can’t get it up any more, so they decide that mere physical things are sour grapes. Plato takes that football, builds a fascist utopia out of it, and spikes the football in the ‘noble lie’ endzone.

  • OffTheCuff

    Good article!

    Duh, courtship is dead, and men in citites are becoming as flaky as women have always been. The guy who said “invite her along to something you’re going to do anyway” is totally correct. Unfortunately the article seems to miss out that this is the only thing that works. If courtship was dead 20 years ago for me, it’s a zombie now.

    Going on dates is for after attraction is solidly established. Long after.

    I like how the parting shot is from a woman who insists on formal dates, as if she’s doing things properly. Hint: if you’re going on lots of them, then your strategy isn’t exactly working. It’s a great resource extraction strategy, but apparently not a good monogamous boyfriend strategy.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Going on dates is for after attraction is solidly established. Long after.

      The problem here is that the current system does not allow two people to get to know one another much at all – the woman joins up with a group of guys, and most likely they only peel off as a twosome to have sex. It’s not surprising that most of the time this cavalier approach fizzles quickly. The approach is built squarely on the Principle of Least Interest, which is about the best relationship preventer we have.

      In this case, the guy asked the woman on a date, then checked in at 10 p.m. That’s just disrespectful of someone else’s time, and she made the right call in declining to meet. If he had said, “Maybe I’ll see you out this weekend,” a very common approach, she would have been free to make other plans as he did.

      A much better approach is shared expenses on real dates that are designed to allow meaningful conversation between two people.

  • Abbot

    “An irresistible, post-feminist Taming of the Shrew. Don’t be scared by the premise. This is not a story about a woman relinquishing her identity. Quite the opposite. It is a riveting tale about how a brilliant, strong-minded woman liberated herself from a dreary, male-bashing, reality-denying feminism.”
    —Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys; How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Feminist-Cowboy-Unlikely-Story/dp/1592407900

    .

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    Probably one of the things driving more narcissism is changes in the nature of work. If you’re a farmer, the crops will grow or not grow independent of how you present yourself to other people (who you probably won’t see all that often, anyhow.) If you’re a small-town craftsman, the presentation *will* matter somewhat…but you’ll still mostly gain or lose customers based on how good the work you do actually is.

    If you work in a large, stable corporate environment, the importance of selling yourself depends on what you’re doing…most important when the work you do isn’t highly measurable. And when a career involves multiple, frequent job changes, then selling yourself becomes even more important than it is in a stable environment where people can get to know you and see what you really can do or not do.

    Basically, then, the idea of thinking of oneself as a marketable product has become much more common throughout society, and this probably affects even people who are too young to have had career experience.

  • Mike M.

    @Pennies, Susan

    It’t not just the dating culture that’s become accustomed to expect instant changes in plans being catered to. I see it at work, too. Expectations that 30-page documents can be written overnight and routed through several approvers in the next day.

    It’s a Very Rude Habit…and one I’m going to have one whale of a fight over at the office next week. :-)

  • http://Marellus.wordpress.com Marellus

    Like JP’s Planescape Torment analogy, one must wonder whether the narcissist truly has the advantage over one who can listen …

    In the land of the I’s, it’s the one with an ear, who rules.

  • J

    @Abbott #105

    Hannah Rosin (or any other feminist criticism) aside, explain to me how this was a good relationship for Alyssa Valdes. The guy breezed into her life, became the center of it and then dumped her. This is a good thing?

  • J

    It starts with one woman’s story about an OKCupid prospect who asked her to hold her Friday evening for a date and then failed to contact her until well in the evening. He finally got in touch at 10pm by text. He asked her to join him for a drink with his college buddies. She passed.

    Maybe it’s generational but I’m appalled that people treat each other in that manner. If she hadn’t heard from him by Friday afternoon, she was completely justified in making other plans.

  • Joe

    @Susan

    The problem here is that the current system does not allow two people to get to know one another much at all…

    I’ll say.

    I just made the mistake of watching a few minutes of The Bachelor. To say that nobody involved had the first idea about dating, much less about getting to know someone, is to exaggerate their knowledge, it seems.

    I mean, showing up to a first introduction drunk??? That’s a 14 year old’s mistake, if the 14 year old’s not too bright, isn’t it? I saw that, along with an invitation to use 50 Shades of Grey as a guidebook, this, as a “Let’s get to know one-another” ice-breaker. Sheesh.

    And that was just the girls. I’m sure the guys can top that, but I don’t think I’ll stick around for the carnage. Too embarrassing.

  • JP

    “I mislike the hierarchical planes concept, because the entire Socratic line is upside-down: the entire concept is nothing put an Aesop — the old men can’t get it up any more, so they decide that mere physical things are sour grapes.”

    The point is that the vertical and interacts with/intersects the horizontal, not the physical things are sour grapes.

    It’s kind of like adding another dimension to space-time.

    So light is up…and dark/nihilism/the war of all against all is down, just like the present is forward and the past is backward.

    It is possible to create hell on earth, isn’t it? Genocide, anyone? Lots of stuff from the lower vertical that you can grab if that’s your desire. Free will and all.

  • JP

    ” Plato takes that football, builds a fascist utopia out of it, and spikes the football in the ‘noble lie’ endzone.”

    The noble lie is a pretty good tool if you want to go down.

    It’s a feature. Not a bug.

    Leo Strauss was an idiot. In the sense that his ideas were less than useless.

  • http://happycrow.wordpress.com Russ in Texas

    Well, what do you expect out of one of Heidegger’s mutant spawn? If you want to talk about “less than useless,” then let’s go right to the source….

  • http://happycrow.wordpress.com Russ in Texas

    But for Plato, physical things *are* sour grapes. This is why he cannot abide the Musicians.

  • JP

    “But for Plato, physical things *are* sour grapes. This is why he cannot abide the Musicians.”

    That’s Plato’s problem, not mine.

  • Benton

    Susan, I really want to thank you for writing about issues like this. I just wanted to add (from personal experience) that narcissists and people pleasers are likely to meet up:

    http://www.bpdcentral.com/narcissistic-disorder/hallmarks-of-npd/

    “Narcissists and people-pleasers/codependents have a way of finding each other. The cycle only stops when the non-disordered partner accepts that things will only change when he or she becomes aware that this is a one way relationship and that they will always be in the giving, not getting, role.”

    I’ve learned that I receive a real “rush” by being with a narcissistic woman. It’s like they kidnap part of my brain and make me experience extreme emotion (both positive and negative). I think this happens in part because those women tend to be really desirable (e.g. beautiful, confident, intelligent, sexually attractive, etc), and desirable women who are not narcissists didn’t go for me. But there is also something inherent to narcissists that attracts people pleasers like me. We’ll probably see a lot more of these pairings because of the increased number of female narcissists and the large number of “beta” men who are available to cater to them.
    As for me, it has taken therapy for me to realize what a healthy relationship involves. I hope other guys will learn the lesson easier than I did and be spared the pain.

    Two last thoughts:
    Torment was awesome game. Never finished it though.

    Bill and Hilary are an extremely interesting couple. Both are devoted to each other and neither would be as successful without the other. But Bill humiliated Hilary in public and she took it like a powerless housewife. Weird.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Benton

      Thanks for your honesty in sharing your experience with narcissists.

      But there is also something inherent to narcissists that attracts people pleasers like me. We’ll probably see a lot more of these pairings because of the increased number of female narcissists and the large number of “beta” men who are available to cater to them.

      That just sent a chill up my spine, because I feel certain you are right. The female narcissist will undoubtedly appreciate supplicating behavior as a symbol of her personal power over men. I imagine these women collect orbiters in large numbers, and select their boyfriends from among these admirers.

      Is people pleasing a function of low self-esteem?

  • A Definite Beta Guy

    I took this test and scored a 20. It said that since I scored above 18 I should check myself out for narcissistic tendencies.

    Mentioned this to the SO, she said definitely. Ha.

    On the other hand, I scored “0” on the entitlement spectrum, apparently. I may think I am overwhelmingly awesome, but I expect to have to prove it and work for what I get!

  • JP

    I scored a 12.

    However, I’m high on superiority.

    “This trait refers to whether a person feels they are more superior than those around them. You scored particularly high in superiority, suggesting you feel you are superior to most others.”

    Well, yeah.

    This has actually declined as I’ve gotten worn down by life, though.

  • JP

    For vanity:

    “This trait refers to a person’s vanity, or their belief in one’s own superior abilities and attractiveness compared to others.”

    Well, I probably scored a 0 because I think that I’m *unattractive*.

  • Jackie

    @J (128)

    J, I think that Abbot’s links actually vindicate the feminists who thought the relationship was unhealthy from the start . Not a viewpoint I expected from Abbot, but he has been surprising me since his Pinterest fashion postings. ;)

    The book is interesting in that AV champions submissiveness for women and that this man had to “tame” her from her feminist ways. She sold it to the publisher as a “fairytale” — until he dumped her, which was still before it went to press. In actuality the submission requirement was a cover for abuse, cheating, manipulation and gaslighting. Sad stuff all around. :(

    If you google AV, though, you will see she has a long history of volatile postings that are then deleted (except for google cache), threats of lawsuits and a bridge-burning epic of a resignation letter.

    I would not read the book expecting the truth, or even a defense of submissiveness, but rather to see the inside POV of an unhealthy and volatile relationship. I *am* interested in how those who championed the submissive aspect espoused by the book respond, for that reason.

    But, really, the title should have been “The Narcissist and the Borderline.” Or maybe, “Home on the Cluster-B Range.” This lady doesn’t have issues– she has *subscriptions*.

  • Madelena

    @Pennies

    That behaviour is quite appalling. I live in an urban area as well but use public transportation and lack a car. The dates that I’ve had, the men were more than willing to come meet me in my neighbourhood for my convenience especially when they find out I don’t drive.

    A few exceptions of course, like one man requested that I take the subway to the end of the line where he would come and pick me up because he lived quite far away. That was the first date and it was an acceptable request to make. However, he refused to let me take the subway back after our date and drove me home instead. We went on several dates afterwards, and each time he drive all the way down to pick me up and drop me off.

    With a few exceptions, I have been pleasantly surprised by a lot of the gentlemanly behaviour I’ve encountered dating, like opening car doors, helping me put on my coat, making sure I walk on the inside of the pavement, walking me or driving me home, paying for dates. This is probably due to several factors, including targeting men above 30 and I think my surprisingly good vetting skills thanks to being very clear on the type of man I want.

    I spent a year or so working on self-development including physical improvement and softening some aspects of my personality and had success with men after several years in the singlehood desert.

    This blog, especially the advice regarding girl game and emotional escalation, given a couple of months ago when I was active here, has been of tremendous help, especially the advice re girl game and emotional escalation. Lethal stuff. If I had known what I know while in my twenties I would have been a heart-breaking weapon.

    In any case, after dating quality men (and a few bad apples), ready to offer commitment, I settled on my current bf. Charismatic, good hearted, outgoing and absolutely crazy about me and me about him. We’ve had long talks about expectations and the future and I met his friends and family. I have a v good feeling about him.

  • Jackie

    @J (again :) )

    I think that bad behavior has always existed and always will exist, unfortunately. And I think technology has sped it up and given it more cache. But the only tool these girls need, really, is self-respect.

    There is an interesting TED talk, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE) and in it the speaker says that deception is a cooperative act. One person to tell the lie and one (or more) to agree to believe it.

    It made me think, What other bad behaviors are cooperative in nature? This kind of janky dating experience would qualify, I think. Want to shut it down? Don’t feed it with your time and attention. On the contrary, starve it!

    If people stopped rewarding bad behavior, the SMP would transform virtually overnight. In the meantime… it’s up to each of us to draw the line what treatment we will accept and respond to.

    There’s a vested interested for the janky ones when people adopt a scarcity mentality and a zero-sum mindset. Don’t believe the hype! ;)

  • Madelena

    *Apologies for the repeat sentence in my paragraph. Don’t know how to edit it.

    “This blog, has been of tremendous help, especially the advice re girl game and emotional escalation.”

  • Emily

    I’ve also encountered a lot of people who will show up *extremely* late when you’re meeting up with them (sometimes up to an hour!) I’ve had both male and female friends do this. It’s mainly west coast people who seem to have this problem. Massive pet peeve.

  • http://gravatar.com/pioneervalleywoman pvw

    Regarding pennies post on the NYT article on technology and narcissism.

    I read it as well. What I found interesting too, and which got me thinking about another side of narcissm, something which Jackie mentioned, the self-respect aspect of knowing that certain behaviors are not acceptable.

    Is it possible that much of that has something to do no only with technology, but with hook up culture? So people are accustomed to texting not only for meet ups instead of dates but some men are used to women showing up for sex at their convenience, at any time of night.

    The Modern Love column fom yesterday addressed the self-respect aspect of avoiding oneitis, this time in a woman:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/modern-love-friends-without-benefits.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  • JP

    “It made me think, What other bad behaviors are cooperative in nature?”

    Bad behaviors are generally parasitic in nature.

    So, there is cooperation, in the sense that the con needs a mark.

  • Russ in Texas

    Hrm… poor ethical hygiene encourages the growth of grifters?

  • Abbot

    “explain to me how this was a good relationship for Alyssa Valdes”

    The feminists were already attacking the book before the abuse details emerged. Then they jumped on it hard saying whatever they could about the abuse in order to keep the public from reading it. These feminists swarm like buzzards always ready to swoop in and do damage control to keep their precious prickly little sniveling cult from getting a bad name…

  • Abbot

    Why is it always the same old feminists and egalitarians who simply don’t like what they think the implications are? Its the height of narcissism indeed

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/opinion/sunday/darwin-was-wrong-about-dating.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

    “…The fact that some gender differences can be manipulated, if not eliminated, by controlling for cultural norms suggests that the explanatory power of evolution can’t sustain itself when applied to mating behavior. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve pushed these theories too far. How many stereotypical racial and ethnic differences, once declared evolutionarily determined under the banner of science, have been revealed instead as vestiges of power dynamics from earlier societies?”

    .

  • Ion

    “the speaker says that deception is a cooperative act. One person to tell the lie and one (or more) to agree to believe it.”

    Yup. Humans are social creatures, our biggest attribute and flaw. It doesn’t matter how toxic a society, or a value is, if enough people believe it, or if you’re taught to believe it, you will.

    These statements are ALL lies:

    I am an individual (b.s., we all live in context to our environment and other people).

    I picked my religion because it was my FAITH! (b.s., most of us pick the religion our parents/society passed down to us).

    I have alternative/independent thoughts and ideas! (b.s., you are either responding to ideas, or believing in ideas based on the ideas around you).

    I am a man! I have male desires (b.s. other than the desire to procreate, you are EXACTLY what being a man dictates in your culture, it varies from culture to culture and generation to generation).

    I have female intuition! (b.s., you believe based on what suits your interests at the moment, combined with what you’d like to believe)..

    I am entitled to what I want out of life! (b.s. nature doesn’t give two craps about what you want).

    I am unique! (b.s. without factoring in small personality traits, you are basically a carbon copy).

  • JP

    “I am an individual (b.s., we all live in context to our environment and other people).

    I picked my religion because it was my FAITH! (b.s., most of us pick the religion our parents/society passed down to us).

    I am unique! (b.s. without factoring in small personality traits, you are basically a carbon copy).”

    We are both individuals and social. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and.

    It’s independence and dependence.

    Most people don’t “pick” a religion just like you don’t get to “pick” a culture.

    No, you are unique. You also have certain aspects you share with other people, but even twins are different people. It depends on how much of your life you life as yourself and how much you live as contingent. I like autopilot sometimes.

    I suspect that the discovery of the self and independence was one of the useful products of Faustian civilization.

  • J

    “Narcissists and people-pleasers/codependents have a way of finding each other. The cycle only stops when the non-disordered partner accepts that things will only change when he or she becomes aware that this is a one way relationship and that they will always be in the giving, not getting, role.”

    My mother was a narcissist. Narcissists raise their children to be people-pleasers because that makes the child a good source of narcissistic supply. Because being part of someone’s supply becomes associated with love, children of narcissistics tend to be attracted to narcissists. They tend not to trust the love of more normal and giving people because it seems unearned. They don’t have to work for love the way they did with their narcissist parent.

    As for me, it has taken therapy for me to realize what a healthy relationship involves. I hope other guys will learn the lesson easier than I did and be spared the pain.

    Good for you for doing the therapy!

    Bill and Hilary are an extremely interesting couple. Both are devoted to each other and neither would be as successful without the other. But Bill humiliated Hilary in public and she took it like a powerless housewife. Weird.

    I think they are more of a polical partnership than a “couple.” She was aware of his womanizing EVEN BEFORE they were married. She seems to accept it because their political relationship rests on her accepting it. It’s a calculated trade-off in their case, not an example of the narcissist/codependent dynamic. Hilary is the hardworker of the couple, but she lacks charisma. Bill has it in spades. She rode his coattails to fame; she reined him in and helped himto use what he had intelligently and strategically.

  • Ion

    “We are both individuals and social. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and.”

    OK, maybe I was being a tad bit dramatic, but most people realize that they are somewhat social, but believe themselves to be starch individuals, and that’s not true at all. The teenager expressing their “individuality” and self-identity by shopping at a franchise like Hot Topic is a good example.

    “I like autopilot sometimes. ”

    That’s more accurate than what I said previously.

    We’re neither robots, or driven primarily by biological instinct either. We are pre-programmed as humans to accept the environment given to us, and the ideas that come with it. I think it’s accurate to say that how we respond to socialization offers some uniqueness, but fundamentally, we respond well to and accept socialization. “Toxic” or “beneficial” is not the deciding factor in whether or not we accept something as normal.

  • Ion

    @ J

    Glad to know that another person had a mom similar to mine.

    http://parrishmiller.com/narcissists.html my mother had ALL these symptoms. She really discusses each issue to a T.

  • J

    My brother and I were trotted out as token examples of how good my mothers parenting was the other day.

    My mother used to eat that up with a spoon; she cultivated a public image of herself as wonder-mom based on my successes.

    Unfortunately, that’s because we were raised to be docile conformers, have no backbone and no real self-identity. This is the “best” example of what a NPD parent can hope to raise.

    It took me years to recover from this. And I still have some dark nights during which this comes back to haunt me.

    I agree with the commenter who said patriarchy can help cure narcissm. I’ve always agreed with the argument that we learn empathy from our fathers. Fathers provide things like discipline, boundaries and rules.

    Certainly healthy fathers can and do provide these things. However, there are plenty of narcissist men as well who do not. Patriarchy is no panacea.

    Every last NPD I’ve met (and people with parents of NPD seem to attract that) didn’t have a good father as a role model.

    My mother had a terrific father and a mother, who due to debilitating illness, was not reliable. I think her probles came from a lack of trust that resulted from the constant fear that her mother would die and “abandon” her.

  • J

    @Jackie

    J, I think that Abbot’s links actually vindicate the feminists who thought the relationship was unhealthy from the start .

    I agree.

    Frankly, FWIW I see Alissa Valdes as sort of an unstable woman who bounces back and forth between extremes that show no promise of making her happy. She might have been bitchy and walled in before the cowboy, but pulling up stakes, moving in with the guy and exposing her son to a the “discipline” of a man who was not her husband strikes me as phenomenally poor judgment.

    Not a viewpoint I expected from Abbot, but he has been surprising me since his Pinterest fashion postings.

    That was cute! Abbott has very nice taste in clothes IMO.

    The book is interesting in that AV champions submissiveness for women and that this man had to “tame” her from her feminist ways.

    Which apparently she couldn’t work out for herself. One of the Christian submissive female bloggers who is popular now relies on her husband, a former cheater, to help her control her emotions by spanking her. I’m blown away by the lack of emotional control and inability to accept responsibility for one’s own internal state that some women indulge.
    It’s not adult.

    She sold it to the publisher as a “fairytale” — until he dumped her, which was still before it went to press.

    Interest how the publishers tried to supress that information, isn’t it.

    In actuality the submission requirement was a cover for abuse, cheating, manipulation and gaslighting. Sad stuff all around.

    It often is.

    You know I have this reputation in the ‘sphere as disrespectful of men or unsubmissive or something, but frankly I find it possible to be loving, respectful, admiring, cooperative and supportive of my husband without all the submissive nuttiness. I find both of AV’s positions, pre- and post-break-up, to be “over the top.”

    If you google AV, though, you will see she has a long history of volatile postings that are then deleted (except for google cache), threats of lawsuits and a bridge-burning epic of a resignation letter.

    Wow. That’s more craziness than I anticipated, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

    I would not read the book expecting the truth, or even a defense of submissiveness, but rather to see the inside POV of an unhealthy and volatile relationship.

    Exactly.

    But, really, the title should have been “The Narcissist and the Borderline.” Or maybe, “Home on the Cluster-B Range.” This lady doesn’t have issues– she has *subscriptions*.

    LMAO. I think that’s a very good description of what is going here. This was the highly predictable result of an unstable woman searching for a man to control her instead of growing up and learning to exercise self-control. That it blew up in her face is no surprise.

  • J

    @Jackie

    Thanks for the link to the TED talk. I’ll take a look later.

    It made me think, What other bad behaviors are cooperative in nature? This kind of janky dating experience would qualify, I think. Want to shut it down? Don’t feed it with your time and attention. On the contrary, starve it!

    Without a doubt, we get what we tolerate. That is why I am so against giving up autonomy and responsibilty. Unless you’ve hooked up with a saint or buddha, you’ll always be with an imperfect person who won’t always respond to you in a way that is best for you. You have to maintain some healthy boundaries.

  • J

    J: explain to me how this was a good relationship for Alyssa Valdes

    Abbott: The feminists were already attacking the book before the abuse details emerged. Then they jumped on it hard saying whatever they could about the abuse in order to keep the public from reading it. These feminists swarm like buzzards always ready to swoop in and do damage control to keep their precious prickly little sniveling cult from getting a bad name…

    OK, but that’s not what I asked you. My entire statement began, “Hannah Rosin (or any other feminist criticism) aside…” and ended with the request that you explain to me how AV’s book describes a good relationship. Your response doesn’t attempt to do that.

    I have responded to Jackie at length about how unhealthy I think this relationship was–even before the break-up. You don’t need to write for the Atlantic to notice that. That Hannah Rosin did notice that is neither here nor there to me.

  • Ion

    “Patriarchy is no panacea.”

    I’m with you on patriarchy not being a panacea. There was brief period in human history where patriarchy worked, and it always worked for a select few here. I think patriarchy is rather dated, and matriarchy is destructive. These shouldn’t be the only alternatives! I know this sounds naive, but it’d be wonderful if civilation progressed as technology has.

    ” I think her probles came from a lack of trust that resulted from the constant fear that her mother would die and “abandon” her.”

    Is this how the events actually occured? You know how they manipulate background information, and LIE like a language…Usually girls who become narcissists were badly abused as children, usually sexually. Here are some charming narcissist lies from mommy.

    My mom told me that my older brother was kidnapped, and I believed it until I was 21. I look him up on myspace in college and we exchange 5 page long letters because it turns out, he was taken away from Narcissistic Mommy by his father because he was badly abused. He had been in my hometown my WHOLE life, but I thought he was kidnapped.

    She told me my dad was sexually abusing my sister and made me promise not to tell, and I didn’t speak to my dad for over a year (she resented my dad for having a relationship with me, because she couldn’t control it).. When my little brother shared this with my dad, dad put my sis on speaker, and they were both hysterically laughing because it was so ridiculous of a lie that they laughed about it. He walked her down the isle when she got married and everything.

    She called dads church and claimed he was involved in a few orgies (this was where he was a practicing part-time minister).

    She called my stepmom and pretended to be another woman my dad was fooling around with when they first got married.

    She met her now husband at his ex wife’s funeral. Talk about charisma? He didn’t sign a pre-nup, so now she’s a millionare.

    Turns out my dad was so hard on me as a teen because she told him I was having sex with random guys (I was a virgin, didn’t even start dating until my 20s).

    Called dad’s job and attempted to get him fired after he divorced her by claiming she had a broken nose.

    Bought a condo in New York, asked me to stay there, and once I moved in, locked me out and changed the locks while I quickly went outside.

    Say all this to say that when normal people tell lies, they are little fables, but narcissist lies wreck lives.

  • JP

    “Without a doubt, we get what we tolerate. That is why I am so against giving up autonomy and responsibilty. Unless you’ve hooked up with a saint or buddha, you’ll always be with an imperfect person who won’t always respond to you in a way that is best for you. You have to maintain some healthy boundaries.”

    “Boundaries” isn’t a class that’s taught in school, though.

  • J

    @Ion

    Thanks for the link. If you pull out the physical neglect and the sibling stuff (I’m an only child.), that was my mom. Her whole life was based on retaining control of me so that I would not “abandon” her that way she felt her mom did.

  • J

    Is this how the events actually occured? You know how they manipulate background information, and LIE like a language…Usually girls who become narcissists were badly abused as children, usually sexually. Here are some charming narcissist lies from mommy.

    The events really did occur; my mom’s spin on them was her own. Her mother seems indeed to have had a wide variety of physical issues that were never properly dealt with due to immigrant poverty and ignorance. She had high blood pressure, which was treated by bleeding her (!), as well as some unidentified neurological issue, perhaps narcolepsy, that caused her fall asleep abruptly and sleep for protracted periods of time. (My doctor cousin and I have tried to piece this all together with no real conclusions.) All the siblings confirm that my grandmother was fragile and not always able to take care of them. My older aunts confirm that they, rather than my grandmother, were my mom’s primary caretakers. I do not doubt that my mother feared that her mother would die; she did in fact die when my mom was 17. My mother seems to have dramatized for effect and to manipulate, but not really lied. But liar or not, it’s not ever trying to fix the life-long abandonment issue that I hold my mother responsible for.

  • Ion

    “I think this happens in part because those women tend to be really desirable (e.g. beautiful, confident, intelligent, sexually attractive, etc), and desirable women ”

    They are.

    But if you’re my dad, some +$100,000 in court settlements, legal fees, extravagant child support payments, retirement and alimony payments, you’ll wonder if it was all worth it. If I were you, I’d repriotize ASAP. So that you, your bank account, children, and your descendants don’t suffer down the road. Narcissists don’t necessarily end up rich (although they often do), sometimes they select betas who have no backbone, and will punish and suck them dry for everything they have, then drop them.

    If a woman is super sweet and lovely, and everything you want, but eventually starts telling you sob stories about relatives, children, whatever who don’t speak with her, etc., that’s a huge indication that something’s up. Get the background info from the people who refuse to speak with her before you sign anything (marriage papers, whatever).

    There are people I don’t speak with, but I don’t care if someone got their side of events or not. With narcissist, the most unbelievable story you can fathom because “this woman is so incredible” is the true story. They will always have some reason for you not to get the version straight from the original source.

  • J

    @Ion

    I’m really sorry taht you had to go through all that.

    @JP

    Yeah, but they should teach it. It’s a real skill that you need all the more if you never learn it at home.

  • JP

    “Yeah, but they should teach it. It’s a real skill that you need all the more if you never learn it at home.”

    I didn’t even know what “boundaries” were until a few years ago.

    The concept is somewhat strange to me.

  • J

    JP, I can understand how the word “boundaries” might be jargon-y and unfamiliar, but what’s so strange about the concept? Basically, it’s just “drawing a line” or “putting your foot down.”

  • Ion

    “But liar or not, it’s not ever trying to fix the life-long abandonment issue that I hold my mother responsible for.”

    Don’t even try to http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/engulfing-mother.html
    All the conventional wisdom says that the best way to get free of a narcissist is to cut contact once you’re totally independent of them. Unfortunately, children of narcissist have moments of being dependent…being children and all… and even worse, are raised MORE dependent on the narcissist parent than if they had had a regular parent, so they become dependent even in adulthood at times. So I hope the guilt of seperating yourself from her wasn’t too severe.

  • JP

    “Basically, it’s just “drawing a line” or “putting your foot down.””

    It just seems strange to deal with people that way.

    Meaning that it’s not at all clear how you would appropriately know where or how to “draw the line” or “put your foot down.”

  • ChristianKP

    A saying in my mother tongue would be:

    Under the calmest water you will find the greatest depth

  • J

    @Ion

    All the conventional wisdom says that the best way to get free of a narcissist is to cut contact once you’re totally independent of them.

    That is no doubt the most effective way.

    My mother is gone now, which it turns out is also effective. She died at 87 about 18 months ago. I did take care of her (and my dad) until they passed, but I also learned to set boundaries with her. She’d have eaten me and my kids had I not. (DH was amazingly able to ignore her BS–as well as that of is own mother, who was a piece of work in a different way.)

    My mother escalated each time I attempted to pull away from her. He finally escalation was to go nuts when I became pregnant with my son and it appeared that I would not miscarry again. At that point, my father, unable to care for her on his own, pulled me back into the situation. Their goal was to have me abandon my husband and kids instead of “abandoning” them.

    @JP

    Not sure how to answer your question. Most people eventually figure out where to set their boundaries–usually someplace adjacent to where ever they feel taken advantage of.

  • J

    @Ion

    Good link in #167; that was my mother to a tee. Largely because of that, I have done all I could to encourage the separation and individuation of my own sons-which BTW hurts me like hell, but better me than them.

  • JP

    “Not sure how to answer your question. Most people eventually figure out where to set their boundaries–usually someplace adjacent to where ever they feel taken advantage of.”

    The entire issue just seems so fuzzy to me.

    I mean, I get the general point, as my wife points out “you teach people how to treat you.”

    However, that isn’t something I really deal with growing up, in college, etc.

    I mean, I knew that if you were being bullied and the experience was unpleasant, you avoided the person, etc.

    It was always my opinion that if someone asked you for something / to do something, the appropriate thing to do was to do what they wanted/give it to them as long as that was not inconsistent with general morality, meaning lying, cheating, stealing, etc. because as a person, you were essentially *obligated* to do so.

    Kind of like “don’t kill” except along the lines of “if someone asks you for the shirt off your back, you give it to them.”

    And yes, I realize that doesn’t really work, but that was my operating paradigm for many years. It wasn’t a question of how they were treating me, in the sense of “are they being unreasonable” or “are they being jerks”, but more along the lines of:

    (1) Did someone ask me to do something?

    (2) Is that inconsistent with general morality?

    (3) If (2) = no, then comply.

  • J

    I get that, JP, and I think it’s good as far as it goes. The gray area is when someone askd you to do things that aren’t necessary immoral, but take you away from things you need to do for yourself and others. I’ll use my parents as an example. Certainly, we should all honor our parents; it’s the fifth commandment after all. But what if your parents claim that the normal moving away from them that you need to do in order to grow up is wrong? Do you honor their wishes and live with them until they die, losing your own opportunities to marry/have a family (I have a cousin who did just that.) or do you set some boundaries? I couldn’t just walk away so I learned to set boundaries ie. “No, I will not leave my own family to move back in to your home, but I will bring you a home-cooked meal or shop for things you can microwave or hire someone to clean your house.”

  • J

    In post #170, “He finally escalation” should read “Her final escalation.”

  • JP

    ” The gray area is when someone askd you to do things that aren’t necessary immoral, but take you away from things you need to do for yourself and others.”

    Well, there it’s pretty obvious that you need to do for yourself and others because your parents are delusional. See? I’ve learned common sense!

    I ran into problems with this moreso with people I knew. Kind of like when a friend would bang on the door to do laundry at midnight and I would let him in to do laundry.

    This would confuse my girlfriend as to why in the world I would do that since he was being rude and disrespectful.

    At the time, my response was whether he was being rude and disrespectful was irrelevant to whether I would let him in and use my laundry machine.

    “Don’t you have any pride?” she would ask?

    “No, because I’m not supposed to have any. Plus, he asked, so I was basically require to oblige.”

    Good times. Good times.

  • Abbot

    “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.”

    No. Its merely the Hypergamy Culture run amok

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/the-end-of-courtship.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    .

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    “If a woman is super sweet and lovely, and everything you want, but eventually starts telling you sob stories about relatives, children, whatever who don’t speak with her, etc., that’s a huge indication that something’s up”

    True of both sexes, I think—if someone is desirable, and you’re hearing only one side of the story, there will be an overwhelming temptation to believe that their version is the true one. The “reasoning” is something like this:

    X is hot>>>>X is good>>>>If Y doesn’t get along with X, then the fault must be Y’s.

    It’s a form of confirmation bias…which, as I may have mentioned earlier, is a psychological phenomenon well-known to accident investigators.

  • Benton

    “Is people pleasing a function of low self-esteem?”

    I think “low self-esteem” is used to explain too many behaviors. I have confidence in myself, but am shy and don’t project confidence when I’m around women. My problem is that I was used to pleasing authority figures in order to receive recognition, and also please my parents in order to receive affection. So naturally I fell into that pattern with women. I just didn’t realize there was an alternative.
    In a weird way, it is actually healthier for women to reject guys than to keep them in a “friend zone.” I’m not saying friendship among men & women doesn’t exist, but I think it only happens when neither side is attracted to the other.

  • Madelena

    @ J and @Ion

    How can you protect children against a narcissist mother?

    I have a relative who everyone in the extended family has slowly distanced themselves from due to her brutal ability to casually inflict injury through her words and breath-taking lies. It was only in the past couple of years that the extended family compared notes and what and who she said things to, thus bringing to light a lot of her lies.

    However, no one confronted her about it because we are all too aware of the potential volcanic eruption of her temper if she finds out we all talked to one another and exposed her lies.

    Our worry is her children. They are young teenagers and the look of haunted worry on the face of the older child is getting to us. How can we shield them from the long term effects of her poison?

    The extended family discussed notifying their father, (the mother’s first husband) but she has poisoned her children’s mind against so thoroughly that I can’t see them willingly go to him. Her second husband died after a few years of marriage. We believe the stress of being married to the her hastened his trip to the grave and the foolish man didn’t protect the few measly assets he had, leaving everything to her and hanging his own children high and dry with nothing.

    Now she’s on the hunt for the third sap.

    What can the extended family do for these girls? A lot of try to be around the girls, in the attempt to expose them to a different way of behaving but that is of limited effect.

  • J

    How can you protect children against a narcissist mother?

    Make sure the kids understand that it’s their mother and not them that is the problem. They need to know that she is the sick one. She’ll project it onto them, if she hasn’t already. Once they know it’s not their problem, they can make the needed emotional adjustments. You can live without a mother who loves you, but you can’t live in world that makes no sense.

  • JP

    “Is people pleasing a function of low self-esteem?”

    Some of it might be perfectionism, too.

    “I want to do precisely what I am supposed to do.”

    If you think that “supposed to do” is “to make people pleased with you”.

    Well then, that’s a problem.

  • Ion

    “How can you protect children against a narcissist mother? ”

    Sadly, you have to appeal to/lie to the narcissist in order to see these kids and develop a meaningful relationship with them.

    NPD are paranoid that everyone is trying to undermine their parenting (abuse). In typical narcissist fashion, the mother might ask “why don’t you want to spend that time with me instead of my bad daughters?”, and wonder “are you undermining my authority behind their back?” and it’s up to you to create a believable excuse for why the narcissist shouldn’t be there, that benefits the narcissist. “How about you go to the spa this weekend and get some alone me time, and we watch the girls? It must be sooo stressful to have them all the time!” “My church is hosting a teen bible study, and I’d like the girls to take up in my home retreat”, whatever works in her case. Remember, seeing them regularly works best if you create some reason that benefits the narcissist. Offer last minute baby sitting as well.

    Ask the girls about how they feel in GENERAL (not about mommy, as narcissists have a way of gathering information that suits their interest, I had a counselor chastise me for “being so bad to my mother when she’s such a great mom”), so they have trust issues when it comes to “helpful” adults. Remember this narcissist woman is a MANIPULATOR first. If she can have counselors, family court judges, police officers, religious leaders, etc., believing her stories.

    Understand that at least one of those children is likely the “bad child” even if it’s not true. Google the golden child/scape goat routine narcissists often use. The bad child even needs MORE love, but don’t show favorites. Narcissist parent has already showed them that favoritism is an acceptable form of parenting, when it’s definitely not. From your description, the oldest is probably the scapegoat. http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/golden-child-scapegoat.html

    After you’ve established some trust (remembering, they’ve been trained to not discuss narcissist abuse) I would discuss this with the oldest child first. She might not be the scapegoat, regardless, it’s important to speak with all the kids seperately.

    Show them what love is, hug them as much as you can, offer them advice and pay attention to them as much as possible, even if they are kind of weird (narcissist children definitely lack social skills, and more is taught to them by seeing as and doing). It’s not enough to tell them that you love them, and that is true for kids in general. But especially with kids of narcissists, as their mother offers physical/verbal abuse combined with the promise of love, that you SHOW them what love means. Often it’s even helpful that they see what a real loving environment looks like (not a FAKE loving environment, either. They are used to fakeness, and their mother offering the appearance that home is a loving environment). Instead, seeing an environment where people are imperfect, who bicker occasionally but still love each other teaches them that imperfect people deserve love too. They have been told they are worthless because the narcissist is perfect.

    Look into (colleges?) with them, and offer long-term planning advice. This is good two-fold. 1.you offer them a way out by doing this, something they can look forward to. 2. They’ve been told they’re too stupid/dependent and that they will always need the narcissist.

    “leaving everything to her and hanging his own children high and dry with nothing. ”

    That’s definitely my family dynamic with my stepdad, word-for-word. This is a huge clue that this woman has NPD (and even if not, having a few NPD traits makes the person toxic and dangerous).

    I apologize if this is wordy, but at least one of these things should work in your case. And of course, if you give me more background about the narcissist, I hope we can brainstorm about excuses to see the girls, and how to handle the situation. But definitely take J advice here “You can live without a mother who loves you, but you can’t live in world that makes no sense.” I agree 100%.

  • J

    Great advice from Ion–especially the paragraph about giving real love and support and demonstrating what a real loving environment looks like.

    But definitely take J advice here “You can live without a mother who loves you, but you can’t live in world that makes no sense.”

    Thanks. To elaborate a bit, the narcissist has a really skewed view of reality that they will attempt to pass on to their kids, either as a means of controlling the kids or simply because they arrogantly believe that their BS is the correct way to see things. If the kids adopt the narcissist’s view, they will find it hard to negotiate in a world that they don’t have an accurate picture of. This is really crazy-making for kids; it pulls the rug out from under them and drives them back into the arms of the narcissist, which will feel safer than an uncertain world. Knowing that mom or dad is nuts validates their own accurate perceptions about the world and themselves.

    I wish Jackie were here to weigh in on this as well.

  • SayWhaat

    I am beginning to wonder if my mother is a narcissist…

  • Madelena

    @ J and @Ion

    Thanks for the feedback. You both hit on some great points.

    Ion, I discussed leaving home to go to university with the oldest. She is adamant about leaving to go to another city so in one sense she knows she needs to be removed from the toxicity of her home and higher education is the means to do it. However, she has not been doing well in school lately and I think a big part of it is the tumultous environment at home. I’m using the excuse of her not doing well in school to be in more frequent touch with her and her sibling, without drawing suspicion from the mother.
    Whenever we try to arrange day or weekend trips with the kids, the mother somehow finds a way to tag along. And she sucks all the air in the room. She needs to be the center of attention and either is oblivious, or doesn’t care, that the rest of us are not listening or are deliberately not responsive.
    Several times, one of the kids would engage freely with us, enjoying the socializing and a comment would slip out of them that was clearly a lie told to the kid by the mother. The rest of us would note it and the mother would glare daggers at the kid, because an obvious lie was told (the kid thinking it’s the truth). It puts a damper on the kid’s sociability because they are never sure what it is a lie or what is a truth.
    I want to let the kids know that it’s not them, that it’s their mother, but I KNOW she GRILLS them after they spend time with us and I don’t want to add more secret burdens on their shoulders.
    In addition, being kids, and her being their only parent, they also feel a sense of protectiveness about her. They once told us how they felt so sorry for their mom cause she does so much good for everyone, yet everyone treats her horribly. She’s very, very good at painting herself the innocent victim and everyone else as the bad guy.
    It took every ounce of restraint to tell them the truth and point out to them the fact that their mother is the instigator and the common denominator in all of the drama that occurs.
    For now, they’re catching a break, because their mother is aiming all her vitriol at her step-children who are caught between mourning their dead father, and being angry at him for bringing a evil force into their lives, and can’t articulate to outsiders how evil my relative is towards them. As they are older children, I did take one of them aside and told her that she is not crazy and we know how horrible and manipulative the narcissit can be. The law is on her side unfortunately, and my advice to the step-children was to pretty much not fight her for the assets that is morally theirs (their father, but primarily their dead mother, built the assets up for them – the narcissist is the recipient). For the sake of their health and their sanity, they need to get away from her as far away as possible, and as soon as possible.
    The only positive is that everyone else in the wider community has realised there is something not right about her and I believe age makes the condition of narcisissm worse and more difficult to hide. Or perhaps the loss of beauty, and charm, of which my relative had in spades, start to fade and people stop cutting her so much slack.

  • Ion

    “However, she has not been doing well in school lately and I think a big part of it is the tumultous environment at home.”

    That makes sense. Try something like EOP which is a program that accepts kids who wouldn’t traditionally be accepted due to grades and economic reasons, or that she needs to plan for superb recommendation letters, and her personal statement needs to be amazing and original. College will be harder for a C student, but it’s not impossible.

    Since scholarships are out due to grades, she could try an in-state school far away from her mom (out of state tuition sucks, and she will most likely need to take twice as many loans once she is accepted to an out-of-state school).

    “Or perhaps the loss of beauty, and charm, of which my relative had in spades, start to fade and people stop cutting her so much slack.”

    Loss of beauty makes narcissism easier to hide. Beauty is threatening for example, and we are often distrustful of beautiful people, but “sweet old ladies” are hardly ever monsters. Her condition will not ever improve and you and the girls should not prepare for any easing up down the road. Personally, it’s caused me nothing but heartache to think that narci-mommy would age as anyone other than herself (she is 63). People will be even MORE sympathetic that an aging mother, since aging mom cannot work, and her cruel daughters have abandoned her in her hour of need.

    “I want to let the kids know that it’s not them, that it’s their mother, but I KNOW she GRILLS them after they spend time with us and I don’t want to add more secret burdens on their shoulders.”

    This is precisely what I was afraid of. That the girls are still young and don’t know how to “hide” that they know something is off about their mother, as she initiates rage and fear to get a straight answer. I would show them through actions that all moms are not like this. It risks too much by mentioning their mother regularly.

  • Madelena

    @Ion

    Thanks for the advice. We’re placing our hopes that the oldest kid somehow pulls her act together and leaves home to go to university. I’ve been emphasizing to her that her grades need to pick up if she wants to go to certain university several hundred kilometres away from home.

    Yeah, we really cannot risk mentioning the mother too often to the kids. They are still too intertwined with her. I believe they’ll gain perspective when some distance is placed between them and their mother, and we’re hoping that happens when they go off to university. I think that is when they will also realize how unfairly their father has been demonized and how the mother placed so many barriers between them and their dad. That is one of her greatest fears by the way. That the kids will get close to their dad. In her twisted mind, it means rejection of her and “losing” to her ex-husband, the kids’ father. So twisted.

  • DC Phil

    @IrishFarmer

    1. Off and on, I’ve been a MGTOW for most of my life, and have been in relationships. Sometimes, I chose to be a MGTOW (before the term gained widespread acceptance and long before I applied it to myself and my former self) and, other times, it was largely due to circumstance. Yes, I agree that some MGTOWs operate with the belief that withdrawing from relationships will somehow make them better. But, be advised that the term can apply to men who choose not to enter intro romantic relationships with women. They can, however, work with them amicably, fairly, and successfully in an office location, for example. The core of a MGTOW, as I see it, is either the motivation to become a quasi-hermit, or someone who realizes that, for them, it’s better not to be in romantic relationships because the risks are too great. It’s more worrisome to have someone shame them and get them to “man up.” They just march to the beat of a different drummer.

    2. I forget where I saw this, but someone drew a distinction between solipsism and narcissism. The solipsist, philosophically, believes that he’s the center of the world and everything, including other people, is an extension of himself. Logically, you can’t prove or disprove solipsism. But, the concept is valid in explaining some things.

    When it comes to women, solipsism means that the woman sees others as extensions of herself. Whether this is inborn is a subject for much debate, but there does seem to be some truth to this. After all, one can reasonably expect that the top three priorities of women are herself, her offspring, and her immediate family. Her man falls lower on the list. And, there’s proof that, when it comes to the offspring, the woman will, in the most extreme cases, kill the offspring for reason that would further her own existence. There are other examples, but this is the starkest one. In the milder cases, the woman is just preoccupied with herself and takes no notice of others.

    A narcissist, in contrast, is someone who is truly self-absorbed, and uses others to further his own agenda. You could say that the narcissist is more active in his actions, whereas a solipsist is more indifferent. Kind of splitting hairs, but remember that narcissism is a category in the DSM. Solipsism is philosophical.