It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Real-life Exchange with a Narcissist




Sometimes the heavens just align right and what you need is served up to you on a gleaming, sparkling silver platter. And so it is with this blog post because not only have we had a visit from a real narcissist, he has gifted us with an object lesson in how a narcissist can go from appearing normal to showing his real self in the space of a few conversational exchanges. What is particularly droll about this exchange is that he did it all in context with the last blog post, which is about how a narcissist cannot choose his nature but he can choose his behaviour.

James, our narcissist, initially presents as a rational person who disagrees with my basic tenet that a narcissist can choose his behaviour. James further identifies himself as autistic and in passing, describes narcissists as not being neurotypical. This popped my first red flag. James said: I disagree completely that you, Sweet Violet, are capable of "making everything wrong in your life the fault of someone else rather than choices you have made." because you, unlike your mother, are not a narcissist. It has probably never occurred to you to engage in the blame game your mother plays; likewise it has probably never occurred to your mother to take responsibility for her own actions. You, Violet, cannot choose to be narcissistic. Your mother cannot choose to be neurotypical.

There is nothing in the literature that I have been able to find that indicates a narcissist is not neurotypical. In fact, a PsychologyToday article would seem to discount that possibility with the observation that, in a test wherein the subjects were shown pictures of facial expressions and asked to identify them, “only narcissists were accurate at recognizing anger. Therefore, … narcissists appear to stand out as having enhanced cognitive empathy.” This is the antithesis of the autistic, who has great difficulty in reading facial expressions, including anger. Autistics and narcissists do share some characteristics, namely difficulty with empathy. Additionally, both autistics and narcissists can get fixated on something to a degree that is astonishing to others and they have often have a lot of trouble with change that they, themselves do not initiate. Narcissists are opportunists and it would not be surprising for a narcissist to seize on these shared characteristics to excuse his behaviour: people make allowances for autistics, knowing they are incapable of certain things and what better disguise for a narcissist to slip under the radar than to pretend to be an autistic?

But, like narcissists everywhere, James took it a step too far when he implied that narcissists are not neurotypical because the science simple does not support that. Unlike the autistic, who is not neurotypical and commonly has trouble discerning the meanings of facial expressions, the narcissist has an enhanced ability to do so. A search on Google, PubMed and NIH revealed no peer-reviewed articles supporting the idea that narcissists are not as neurotypical as you or I.

I responded to James—you can read the entire exchange here—and reiterated my position using examples, closing with “That you don't grasp this very fundamental fact of narcissists, that they can show one face to you and another face to me, tells me that either you have no narcissists in your life or that you have them but are deep in denial. Either way, you are one of the ones who doesn't “get it.’”

James responded with what appeared to be an empathetic response but then reiterated his position. Another red flag for me. He is unwilling to give up…I suspected at this point that he would not give up until I agreed with him, that he would rephrase and reframe his position until he got me to agree that he was right and I was wrong. This felt very manipulative: first show empathy to soften me up, agrees with my basic premise—that narcissists can show one face to some people and another face to others—and then reiterates his position, which implies they have no choice in the matter.

Again I refuted his contentions, again giving examples, and his next response gave me the “aha!” moment I was expecting: he twisted my words to support his contention. I replied: “Sophistry doesn't work with me. When faced with my brother's misdeeds, my mother did not punish him, she punished ME for ‘letting him’ misbehave. Narcissism or no, she had a CHOICE in who to punish.



“Narcissists cannot change their natures but they are perfectly capable of changing their behaviour. If they can treat one of their children well, they can treat them ALL well. They simply choose not to.”

And the gloves were off. James replied “It's not sophistry, but a rational argument, something which you unfortunately lack. I'm not going to waste any further time speaking to you, not because we disagree but because, despite my best efforts to not offend you and apologising when I thought I had, you have been consistently rude in return. It's entirely your choice as to whether you publish this comment; just knowing you read it is enough for me.”

I replied, pointing out how narcissistic this exchange was, but giving James the benefit of the doubt just in case he really was autistic, and pointing out that when he did not succeed in getting me to change my position, he became rude and attacked me. I then said I would not publish any more correspondence from him because “If a person can’t get his point across without attacking, then they don’t get space here.”

And that is where it got really interesting!

I didn’t publish his next response, which was “Well played, very well played. If I am a narcissist, I am not the only one here.” Note that I had given James the benefit of the doubt in my previous comment. I had specifically said “Now I am not saying James is a narcissist… I am going to be generous here and write off James’ rudeness to autism and an inability to grasp concepts that do not support his personal perception.” So James’ response to this was to gaslight and take the position that I called him a narcissist when I most specifically did not. He then attacked me yet again, calling me a narcissist. And amongst all of this, he revealed that this was a game to him… “well played, very well played” he said, like a chess player admiring an unexpected move by his opponent.

Then, in an attempt to outflank me, he sent two messages anonymously. How do I know they were from him? Because they were gaslighting: they accused me of being rude to James instead of the other way around. They accused me of wrongdoing and tried to hoover me back into the game, a typical ploy for a narcissist who is smarting from being bested in a competition that exists only in his mind. James (as Anonymous) said: Sweet Violet....what I saw was you going on the attack first and tried to argue your point so vehimently that you didn't allow him to have his own opinion. He also reacted as did you. You both have the right to your opinion and I would welcome to hear more of how the two of you worked through this. It's not about black and white, right or wrong, it's about really listening to the other person's point of view and letting them have their own opinion. BOTH of you....all of us.

I didn’t publish it so, a few hours later another message from James came in (narcissists hate to be ignored), also under the Anonymous name: It's o.k. for you to attack him? Sooooo those that disagree with you have no "voice"? hmmmm just curious  Remember, my last published comment about James specifically excused his rudeness just in case he really was autistic…

Well, I didn’t publish that comment either and, true to narcissistic form, he was back this morning, this time with an email entitled: “Autistic? You wish.” The message said:

I lied about that, I'm a psychopath. I've written about being one: [link redacted]

You were a fun distraction for a little while, but your insistence on blocking anybody you don't like got in the way of that. Didn't the narc bitch who squeezed you out teach you not to get in a psychopath's way?

It's very interesting reading of your tales of scapegoating when you were a child. Have you ever wondered why Petey was the chosen one while all you got was blame and bruises?

As if you're going to answer, you'll hide away from me like the weak speck (though these days I read you're more of a blob) of nothing your mother always knew you were.

This, of course, made me laugh out loud. Talk about being butt-hurt and petulant! Victim-blaming, attacking, James came to the blog expecting to be a cat toying with a mouse and found a big dog who bested him at every turn. Narcissists don’t scare me anymore nor do they have the power to intimidate me. I will be generous here and answer the questions James posed in his email for you all:

1) Didn't the narc bitch who squeezed you out teach you not to get in a psychopath's way? Obviously if she did, that was not a lesson I cared to retain. Like a typical narcissist, you inflate yourself and call yourself a "psychopath" so you will sound more formidable but, like all narcissists, you are a weak person who creates a powerful false persona to hide behind. I was onto you in your first message…my red flag system works extremely well.

2) Have you ever wondered why Petey was the chosen one while all you got was blame and bruises? No, I never wondered at all because I knew why: she favoured him over me. And I knew why: because my birth caused her to have to change all of her plans for her future. And, instead of handling that fact like a mature adult, she childishly blamed me for it.

3) …you'll hide away from me like the weak speck (though these days I read you're more of a blob) of nothing your mother always knew you were. There is a difference between hiding and refusing to give an asshole a forum. Pity you don’t know the difference, James.

And so here you have it…an exchange with a narcissist from pseudo-empathetic beginning to truth-revealing end, complete with gaslighting, hoovering, sweet talk and attacks. A real smorgasbord of narcissistic interaction: I could not have given you a better example if I had created an illustrative analogy myself! Thanks, James!

15 comments:

  1. Violet you did a great job of breaking down your exchanges into little 'bites' & explaining exactly what was going on. Obviously, this guy is very lame. Trying to push his own agenda, trying to start an online fight, and finally resorting to name calling, really proves the point. No way this guy was Autistic, because of the way he carried on & on. So interesting. Btw, my NM often follows the same pattern, although these days, due to her declining health, it's just one soul sucking complaint after the other. Thanks again, for publishing & breaking down the pattern of this Narcissist.

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  2. Awesome! Thoroughly entertaining! Way to crush him, SV! And thank you "James" for offering yourself up. You lose! And you shamefully declare yourself a psychopath by default? Eeeek! SO scary! Just makes you a bigger loser - don't ya think? Go back to your momma's basement and indulge in another order of nachos from 7 -11. Wa wa wa.

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  3. Ah, good ol' James. I've gone a couple rounds with him as well. He makes me yawn and lol. Great job.

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  4. James is still bombarding me with anonymous comments which I am not going to publish. If you want to your anonymous comments on this post published, here are your guidelines:

    1) I was not rude to James. When I called him on his game by saying “Sophistry doesn't work on me,” James became hostile. If your post includes accusing me of being rude to James or that I need to apologize to him, it won't get published. I do not apologize to people for being rude to me.

    2) If your post includes taking me to task for not changing my position or “listening” to James or implies this is a public forum, it will not be published. This is MY blog, opened for the purpose of ME expressing MYSELF. It is not a public forum, topics here are not open to debate. People are free to disagree and to say so...they are not free to reframe and reiterate the same argument ad infinitum in order to wear me down and get me to agree. When you've made a good point in opposition to my position, I will acknowledge that. If I don't acknowledge it, then I didn't think yours was a salient argument and reframing it 20 dozen times in an attempt to weary me into submission and agreement will not work. I just won't publish your comments and I will stop reading them as soon as I see that is the direction they are headed.

    3) I was not angry or "lashing out"---James is angry and lashing out and he is projecting those feeling onto me. Despite numerous clear red flags, I gave James the benefit of the doubt as some autistic people find compassionate communication difficult. When James twisted my words to support his position, he confirmed for me that he was not autistic, he was a narcissist, a troll, having a go at me. And I laughed. Out loud. I thought it was hilarious because he was so transparent and dropped so many red flags. If your comment references me as hostile or angry or lashing out, it won't get published because that is one of the red flags: you are imputing emotions and actions to me that I did not feel. There is a difference between being firm and being hostile.

    4) In the last comment from James that I published, James claimed to be a psychopath. He then went on to reveal that this was all a game to him. He then said any number of rude and cruel things that, had I been taking him seriously at all, could have been very hurtful. Anyone who thinks I need to apologize to a self-identified game-playing narcissist (who inflates his self-image by calling himself a psychopath--why? to scare me? Oh! Boo Hoo!) who attempted to damage MY self-esteem with words designed to hurt and diminish me, needs to think again. You won't get published.

    Anybody want to know why I am so sure all of these anonymous comments are from James? Read #4 above: nobody but a narcissist would say those kinds of things and then think he deserves an apology from the person he maligned. Narcissists have no place here.

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  5. Yay you, Violet! For telling that pathetic slimebag (James) what a piece of drek he truely is.

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  6. Apologies for the vagueness but I still haven't come to terms with the fact that the past possibly wasn't my fault, so want to stay anon.

    I have found your exchange between yourself and "James" extremely interesting and helpful to my current situation with my MNM.

    Until this last month, I had not heard of narcissism in a parent. I always thought that although my mother was "difficult", my past was "entirely my own fault". I came across your site when I finally realised this week that I have a MNM. All I've read about NPD over the last week is my mother and her behaviour 100%. Her behaviour has been so textbook NPD that it almost seems she's been reading the textbooks!

    I had been totally NC with my MNM, my EF and a sibling (the GC) for many many years. A health crisis in my family has thrown us all together once more. A non-related crisis has also just suddenly erupted which has involved every single member of my FOO, resulting in my NM backing herself into a massive corner with disapproval from absolutely everyone in the family. She has tried to use every single method of narcissistic behaviour to support herself, but the current crisis meaning that gas lighting and triangulation are her only methods of attack she can use. Ironically, for the first time ever, we are acting as a united force against her so triangulation has failed. Once again, it's so classic textbook triangulation that a therapist would have a field-day with it!

    Reading your exchange with James shows me that she does know what she's doing right now and she is choosing to act the way she is. And has always known what she's been doing. Also, to the outside world, she appears as the poor wronged person, and we are the nasty people (every single one of us, and there's a lot of us!!)

    Interestingly, as I had been NC for so long, when I saw her again (before the current crisis in my family), her mask slipped several times. Unconsciously when I visited her, I had been using the tactic that you call "grey rock". But a couple of times I slipped up and let out too much information. I can only describe it, that a physical change in her face took place as I'd given too much away, and once again she attempted to manipulate me. But I had seen the look on her face and was able to head her off.

    Thank you for your blog. Reading it is a beacon of light in a very sad surreal situation. I thought I had come to terms with my past, but perhaps I've still got some way to go.

    Incidentally, a close family member is autistic. Although this person has no empathy because of their autism, it is a totally and utterly different lack of empathy than my MNM's. This person's lack of empathy is in no shape nor form "malicious". They wouldn't even understand the concept of "malicious". "Thoughtless" yes, "malicious" no. In reading and researching about NPD, I have had a great deal of trouble accepting that my MNM DOES know what she's doing, whereas my autistic family member does NOT know what they're doing (therefore does need sympathy and understanding). The exchange with "James" is helping me clarify those thoughts.

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  7. Edgier since I met herJuly 20, 2015 at 11:13 AM

    Excellent Analysis. I tuned in for the earlier exchange last week? and was following right along and then felt that stunned feeling when James decided to attack you. Stunned because I have had very similar interactions, where it seems like everything is going fine, and then the person you are dealing with suddenly escalates to hostile levels or power plays. The flip can be breathtakingly fast, and now that I know what it is I am able to keep a calm measured response when I see it. Thank you for your analysis.

    Before I ever heard the term, I used grey rock on an acquaintance, who I now know was trying to manipulate me. I suspect it was for some sort of sexual relationship, but I didn't know what he wanted at the time. I missed his cues, and he suddenly became extremely angry with me for anything that I did. I, therefore chose to not "inflict" myself upon him anymore unless it was unavoidable. There were plenty of other people who appreciated me, so I let him be. Well, he was playing cat and mouse, and grey rock apparently only exacerbated his ire because I wasn't playing his game. I never understood how he could escalate to that level of anger and power plays over discovering peripheral things about me that didn't concern him. Now I know that I wasn't responding to his crazy-making the way he wanted me to. Witnessing interactions like the one with James, though very different, help me fill in so many pieces.

    I am beginning to recognized narcissistic behavior in so many more places. Before I just felt off-kilter, and thought I was always missing important social cues. After all, my mother informed me that I was socially dense. Turns out - it might have been her unpredictability that resulted in my difficulty reading social cues. I was getting all the cues, I just had a bad dictionary.

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  8. Hello Violet,

    I just wanted to share with you that recently, I also laughed when I was accused of being very angry when posting on a forum. I had politely but firmly refused to be strawmanned into an apology.

    Same nonsense, different predator.

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  9. Sometimes I think someone is being rude but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. (Can you tell I was raised to question my own judgment?) I'm almost relieved when the person shows his or her true colours and viciously attacks. It makes it all so clear.

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  10. That was great the way you handled it. I feel like I get more confused when constantly attacked, but its always sorta the same things.

    On youtube, this guy said the narcs don't communicate for the same reasons as regular people. This idea is what helps me because the outcome is always supposed to make me hurt, feel confused, defenseless or cause me to stop defending myself, as opposed to any other reason.

    Years ago I was so confused and hurt because I'd given my narc sis some advice, and I ended up being eviscerated for not knowing anything.(behind my back) Another time I was talking about what vitamin is good for what, and then my nmom made a random statement about vitamins which was inaccurate and out of place. Then I started to realize that they don't communicate to just offer help or advice or compare notes, they do it as a form of dominance. I think actually my nmom was trying to "make friends" or be "an ally" with me, aka become my pal in a strategic way.

    Anyway, what stands out to me about this guy who wrote to you, is that he seems to want to prevent people from holding the narc accountable for their behavior. I never realized how much the narcs in my life were using the phrase "be nice" to disarm me. the intention is that we not defend ourselves and they use our empathy against us to get us to comply. These people are bad news, and corner them and then they turn into the monster that they think is so scary. whats frightening is the day to day desire to break humanity down for no reason at all. I guess their reasons seem like no reason to me, but its life to them.

    It frightens me so much especially when I see it in action.

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  11. Can I share a situation which was painful and awful, but just months ago I would have had no defense against it?

    Leaving out details, A narc family member actually asked me to pick out gifts for someone who recently abused me, (during the abusive incident, the police were called, the abuser taken away, so it was serious enough) and I pretended not to mind her asking me, because I realized she was looking to see me pained.

    And HAD I said, hey, that hurts, I don't want to pick out a gift for this abuser, she would have surely said, Oh, but so and so is family, I wish we could get along, perhaps you could be more understanding etc.

    Thankfully I just pretended not to care, and looking back I know shes done that to me before, insinuating that shes kind, and the abuse I get is understandable because of how I am, and I should be "nicer". Ugh.

    There was really no purpose for that entire interaction except to establish that shes powerfully unhurt, I'm hurt, I deserve it and I should me nicer not defend myself at all.

    That weird need is way more frightening than all the loud violence. Because at one point it really disarmed me and I was shamed to even defend myself. Of course, a narc isn't going to want us to notice they are doing it on purpose and have a choice. They want us to serve ourselves up. I think its monstrous. And no matter how tough you are, there is always a moment when a human is kinda defenseless. This is when they do the most damage.

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    1. The plan is to catch you off guard and since we are all so used to being treated unworthily, we take the responsibility that does not belong to us. We give away ourselves and feel guilty. We give more worth to the abuser than to ourselves. I think we have to own that and forgive ourselves. Then next time a ridiculous request is done (probably with the intention of manipulating you) you can simply say, I'm sorry but I can't help with that. You don't owe anymore of an explanation. And may have to repeat it several times but keep it short. This keeps you from getting sucked into giving an explanation that you will have to keep defending.

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  12. Well done, Violet. I've been an only child, thus both "golden" and "scapegoat" at the same time. Well, never at the same time... Part of my survival training as a kid was to be able to tell from the outside look of our house if I was coming back from school to Dr. Jekyll or to Mrs. Hyde and to brace myself accordingly. So just like yours, my red flag went up at his first reply. I'm still not sure if that - literally - sharpened perception my mother gave me is a curse or a blessing. Maybe both.
    Anyway, thank you so much for this blog! Coming here took away the despair. Thank you.

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  13. I find my best defense is an offense that they don't understand. I quietly disengage and stop trying to convince anyone they are wrong. I accept that they think they can hurt me, and let them think they do. I'm saving my energy for other more things that are much more important to me than their insults, sneering, gaslighting etc. I finally feel like *I'm* in control over my own life and reputation. When they realize I have disengaged, it shakes them up to think they are not in control.

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  14. I find my best defense is an offense that they don't understand. I quietly disengage and stop trying to convince anyone they are wrong. I accept that they think they can hurt me, and let them think they do. I'm saving my energy for other more things that are much more important to me than their insults, sneering, gaslighting etc. I finally feel like *I'm* in control over my own life and reputation. When they realize I have disengaged, it shakes them up to think they are not in control.

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I don't publish rudeness, so please keep your comments respectful, not only to me, but to those who comment as well. We are not all at the same point in our recovery.

Not clear on what constitutes "rudeness"? You can read this blog post for clarification: http://narcissistschild.blogspot.com/2015/07/real-life-exchange-with-narcissist.html#comment-form