Monday, 6 June 2011

Narcissists Are Always in Attack Mode

The last post got me thinking... Okay, it’s a given that we should never show vulnerability to a narcissist because that’s like dangling bait before their eyes. Narcissists are predators and they can't resist the temptation to attack when a juicy opportunity presents itself.  Also, narcissists are cowards and being vulnerable means that you can't properly defend yourself. So, being in a weakened state around a narcissist means you’re dead meat, or deader meat.
But I ask you, when are narcissists NOT on the offensive? My experience is that narcissists are ALWAYS engaged in an invisible war of control and that means narcissists are ALWAYS on the lookout for an opportunity to mess with you.
Why do narcissists abuse? Because it makes them feel good. They undermine and attack because of their incapacity to love. Narcissists need to triumph over others in order to feel superior and accept themselves. They must destroy to find affirmation. They’re junkies always chasing the next high. And narcissists know many ways to get their next fix.
First and foremost, narcissists are attention whores. They’ve got to have every last drop of it and that means you're not allowed any of it. They flagrantly deny, dismiss, minimize and invalidate your needs, rights and feelings.  Narcissists are emotional tight wads who withhold positive regard of any kind including: sympathy, praise, support and approval.  It’s as if giving you any positive attention might actually kill the narcissist. 

I remember once having some fantastic news that I shared with two narcissists. The narcissists didn’t know one another other; they never met; they lived at opposites ends of the country but their terse response to my news was identical. Both of the narcissist, with clenched jaw, gritted teeth, and  vexed tone could barely spit out, “I’m (pause) happy (pause) for (pause) you.” Afterwards, they both took a deep breath because they seemed to have given their last breath of life (attention) to little old me. This act of begrudging cordiality almost suffocated them. Then they immediately changed the subject away from me and my news. That’s as good as it gets with a narcissist. They are all from the same factory assembly line and they are all interchangeable.
But the narcissist will give you negative attention. Their critical sense is highly developed. They spend a lot of time disparaging, humiliating and insulting everyone and everything, this makes them feel all powerful.
Here’s an example. You get dressed-up, you’re looking good, feeling great and excited about the event you’re heading to. The narcissist will give you a demeaning side-eye and a noticeable smirk when you walk by. The narcissist wants to bring you down with a glance.  Or, they will look you up and down and bark, “you’re not wearing that are you?”

Or, let’s say you call up a narcissist and tell them that you just won a very competitive arts competition and you are receiving a hefty financial grant for your project. The narcissist will snark, “Hmpf. Well, then you better get cracking.” No congratulations, no nothing. And, this nasty bite after all the encouragement and support you have given the needy, greedy narcissist.
Even if they are incredibly privileged, narcissists feel spiteful irritation at the sight of the happiness and the accomplishments of other people. Their driving force is envy. It's an abusive mentality based on the perception of what you possesses and they lack. Narcissists gotta have it all and that means pillaging you while giving NOTHING in return. 
In addition to being greedy, entitled, attention whores; narcissists – in their dead eyes – think they are better than you. And, they will demonstrate their pathological sense of superiority in every interaction. Showing you that you are beneath their notice is how they prove that you are dirt.
If you are excited about something the narcissist will change the subject and direct the attention back to anything, anything but you. A narcissist I know put the focus of his attention on a radish when I was telling him about something that I was interested in.  If there isn’t a fascinating radish lying around, the narcissist will walk out of the room while you are talking; they will talk over you; or suddenly yelp, “Ouch!” Seriously, one narcissist I know would yelp, “Ouch!” and suddenly look at his finger or down at his foot whenever I spoke enthusiastically on any topic. Talk about diverting the attention back to him. I think my happiness caused him actual pain. 
This makes sense, considering what makes narcissists happy – your pain. The narcissist’s deficiencies are continually shown up by your healthy desire to attain goals. So, the feeble narcissist is like a human voodoo doll that receives painful stabs at the sight of your joy and zest for life. I think we should all kill them with our vitality – best revenge ever!  
But a note of caution regarding the more conniving malignant variety.  Malignant narcissists are very good at feigning enthusiasm and interest in your life: it’s a combat manoeuvre. What they’re doing is gathering intelligence – ammo – that they will use to attack you with at a later date. Too much personal information in the dirty paws of a narcissist is a dangerous thing. Also, by feigning interest and enthusiasm in you, the narcissist is getting you to drop your guard and that’s when you become a vulnerable target of opportunity for them.  Narcissists are like dogs who lick your face while they figure out where to pee on you. Beware the narcissist playing nice – it’s a strategic move - they are constantly engaged in an invisible war.
So, if your life is in dire straits the narcissist will attack. If you’re on top of the world, the narcissist will attack. They want to kick you when you’re down; they want to rain on your parade; they want to dampen your spirits; they want to dim your bright light. And, by the time you figure all this out and you can give the narcissist a taste of their own medicine, you've already said to hell with them.

However, should a new narcissist enter your sphere, treat them like the predators they are: whack them on the snout, get in their face and yell back, humiliate them, call them on their bull-shit. Do anything to deter the predator from viewing you as prey - protect your borders.
Here’s what I know about narcissists, it’s simple: the norms of human interactions don’t apply. Narcissists don’t have “human” relationships because they lack everything that makes us human. And for that reason, narcissists aren’t cognisant of any common humanity between you and them. They can’t relate to you, or your feelings at all. The inner person in you is as far from regard to the narcissist as the inner soul of a bug from yours when you squash it. Get it? They are empty, the well is dry… actually the well is a fire pit of hell. Don’t try and draw water, you will get burned.

So, here’s how I am when I am visiting planet narcissism – without witnesses - in the presence of the only narcissist I have a relationship: I am a robot. Yup, that’s right. No noticeable joy and happiness, no sadness, no anger, nothing much in between. No feelings, period. I don’t want to give the narcissist any ammo. I keep a low profile and don’t draw attention to myself. Sadly, this is exactly what the narcissist wants: for others to be mindless automatons, a non-person who won't make them feel bad or usurp their attention. The thing is; I give the narcissist nothing. I've grown completely indifferent to them. No attention, no regard, no reason to attack. Hell, I’m a robot; just like the narcissist and I’m not capable of a normal human interaction and I’m devoid of supply.
But… on planet earth, I am a human being, living a human life, and it’s a valuable one – despite what the narcissist may think. So, other than that one narcissist, the way I deal with them is simply to get and stay far, far away.  For life is short and too good to waste on them and their dirty war.


Jonsi said...

"Even if they are incredibly privileged, narcissists feel spiteful irritation at the sight of the happiness and the accomplishments of other people."

This reminds me of my narc MIL at our wedding. I recently watched the video of our wedding ceremony, and the cameras were rolling well after the ceremony was over. When NMIL came over to "congratulate" us for our marriage, she had this complete look of disgust, disappointment, and sadness etched on her face. She was SO not happy for us. She was actually sad...for herself.

Lisette said...

Jonsi, that's a perfect example of what the narcissist is all about - THEM. And, you even captured the proof on film. They are so warped. Happiness in others - even their own children - actually hurts them. Pathetic.

Jonsi said...

As I watched the video, it was sort of surreal. I called DH over and we replayed it a few times and I was like, "Oh my god! Look at her face! She is SO not happy to be there. She is so disappointed and completely unhappy. What the fuck kind of mother isn't happy for her own son's happiness?"

Duh. I should have seen that coming. She wore white to our wedding because she wanted to try and prove that SHE was still the leading lady in DH's life. She was unhappy that day because she knew she didn't have that role anymore, and hadn't for a long time. I wish I could share the clip with you.

It's really pathetic!

Lisette said...

Jonsi, that's what I was thinking... that momma wasn't the leading lady anymore and she is pissed. You should put the video on your blog. I know I would get a good laugh at her expense.

The last time I saw my mother - in 21 years - was in a video clip of MN sister's indie film posted on her website. MN mother was type cast as a nasty old bitch who worked in a china shop. Her only line was, "here's your bastard gravy boat!" Ha! I wish I had downloaded that clip. I would run it on my blog on a continuous loop.

Jonsi said...

Now THAT would be hysterical: A continuous loop of her loony-ness!

Right now, I am unable to share the clip I was referring to because I wish to remain anonymous. I also wish to protect the identities of people like NMIL, not because she deserves it, but because I would not want to cruelly do to anyone (even her) what she has done to me.

Lisette said...

I understand the need to remain anonymous. I write anonymously to protect myself and those that don't deserve it. I have revenge fantasies, but when push comes to shove, I wouldn't go through with them. Nothing good could come of it. Living well, and turning their hatred into something positive is the ultimate revenge.

Pronoia Agape said...

So, here’s how I am when I am visiting planet narcissism (...): I am a robot. Yup, that’s right. No noticeable joy and happiness, no sadness, no anxiety, nothing much in between. No feelings, period. I don’t want to give the narcissist any ammo.(...) I give the narcissist nothing. I've grown completely indifferent the them. No attention, no regard, no reason to attack. Hell, I’m a robot; just like the narcissist and I’m not capable of a normal human interaction and I’m devoid of supply."

Thanks for the insights. I just realized I lived in robotic mode for a great part of my life, starting when I was a child, which made it difficult for my NF to hurt me, but also closed me to other wonderful things in life, including enjoying motherhood when my first was a baby.

I'm still learning to live on planet Earth, but I have realized, to my profound relief, that I am in fact an Earthling.

Lisette said...

Pronoia (Greetings Earthling),
I think becoming robotic is not only a defense mechanism but a way they kill the life force in us. I remember growing-up that if I laughed too hard I was told to shut-up, if I was happy about something I was mocked, if I showed any kind of excitement I was shamed. Your damned if you do, and damned if you don't around a narcissist.

When I visit planet narcissism - my N dad who lives thousands of miles away - I won't even give him a morsal of info on me. He's a narcissist so he really has no interest but MN sister is always drilling for dirt that she then shares with MN mother and in the process gets twisted and turned into some kind of lie about me. I've asked N dad not to discuss me with her but his response is, "well. I'm not going to lie to her." Oh, the cruel irony. Just ridiculous! He can't even say, Lisette doesn't want me to discuss her with you. He's secretly afraid of her and MN mom - they are bullies and they still wield power and control over him... even though he and MN mother haven't seen each other, or talked in 20 plus years. Thing is, I never ask N dad about MN sister. I have absolutely no interest in her wretched existence.

Pronoia Agape said...

I can relate to any and all enthusiasm getting dampened.

So you also have some minor contact with your NF, as do I - do you find that male narcissists are easier to retain contact with, because they seem to lack interest completely, whereas females seem to be in "engulf/enmesh/looking for dirt" mode more often?

Lisette said...

Yes, N dad is safer because he is completely self-absorbed and lacks interest. Also, he's not predatory, he's not out to deliberately cause me harm, whereas mn sister and mn mother want to destroy me.

Lisette said...

Actually, mn sister and mn mother have no interest in me. They don't care what I'm doing, where I live, or whether I'm dead or alive - well, they would love for me to be dead... their interest in me is soley a predator's interest in their prey - that's all. I'm someone they feel the need to kill in whatever way they can, and that's why they need something, anything on me.

Pronoia Agape said...

I see. My sympathies. My N dad is somewhere in between, but closer to your N dad. He doesn't seem to believe in my existence when I'm far away, mostly doesn't notice me or anyone else when we're sitting in the same room, and "only" sets out to destroy me now if he feels threatened (if I seem to be seeming "better" than him at anything).

Lisette said...

Thanks for your sympathies Pronoia. It's something I accepted long ago. I was aware enough at a fairly young age and had no problem exercising my right to self-preservation.

Our N dads sound alike. When my N dad feels threatened he strikes, albeit in a passive aggressive way.

Pronoia Agape said...

Yes, passive aggressive, nice-seeming, polite, concerned-sounding, or opinion-sounding, or general-observation-sounding crushing blows!

Robotic detachment is the key, I guess.

Lisette said...

My N dad is more about complete denial of regard. On the rare occasions that I do share stuff with him he will walk out of the room while I'm talking, or change the subject. It's very obvious when he does it. Once I told him I was thinking of getting braces because my teeth had shifted from grinding and he snarked, "Nobody cares!" Also, once when I started to voice my opinion he cut me off and sniped, "It doesn't matter what you think, it doesn't matter what you feel." He always lets me know that I don't matter, even by his complete refusal to ask a simple, what's new? Come to think of it, his abuse is downright aggressive. He would never say you're this or that, and he wouldn't name call... probably because he doesn't pay enough attention to come up with something. He's so self-absorbed that if I ran into him on the street he wouldn't recognize me. It's just sad. Robotic detachment is the only way.

Bella said...

I can fully relate to Jonsi's wedding day. My mother was so excited about our wedding day that she ensured nobody from my FOO attended including her. All I had was my in-laws who spent the whole day criticising, ignoring us and laughing behind our backs. I realised much too late that my in-laws were Narcs as well.

Fortunately for me and my husband, we were far too much in love to care what anyone else thought, and that was probably what prompted the general nastiness.

Anonymous said...

I dated a narcissist for six months. When I'd pick up my guitar to play her a song I was composing, she'd take out her knitting, or she'd start doing dishes. She undermined my career skillfully and subtly. When I broke it off with her she began hanging around my social circles for six months. Now she's running for city counsil where I live. She was secretive, evasive, consumed with herself, and lacked any ability to support me emotionally. It's no suprise to me she's become a politician.

Anonymous said...

I dated a narcissist for 3 years. My father and grandmother were narcs and I guess I grew up viewing narcs as being "normal people." Anyway this boyfriend used to tell me all the time that he wasn't going to call me or come to see me because he had "BETTER THINGS TO DO."

Also he never bought me a present he couldn't benefit from. One Christmas he bought me a microwave oven so I could cook meals for him "when we got married." When I finally dumped him he took the microwave back.

It wasn't funny then but now I think everything the idiot did or said is hilarious because I know at age 58 he is on his 4th wife and they are divorcing.

Lisette said...

I'm sure it wasn't funny back then. Though I have to admit when I read your comment I laughed. Narcissists ARE idiots. They are sooo cheap and greedy and selfish. They believe they're entitled to take back gifts because they only give with strings attached!

I have a smiliar story to yours but it involves a vacuum. The only thing on the narcs mind when we were breaking-up was to retrieve a stupid vacuum. I swear, it was the only good thing he brought to the relationship. I couldn't wait for him to leave, but I was sad to see the vacuum go.

Narcs are ridiculous and petty and they defy common human decency at every turn. They have ZERO class!

I'm glad you now find the N's pathetic behaviour hilarious. It's always good to get a laugh at their expense. I wonder if wife #1, 2, 3, and 4 is laughing?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! This is the most concise example of narcissist behaviour and abuse I have read so far. It ALL resonated with me! Phew...I have been using the robot technique for some time but still get drawn back in by the charm every now and then, and then guess what. I get beaten to a pulp!
Having read this I have the determination to continue in my efforts in the knowledge that it's not me, it's her!!!
Thanks again a million times ;-)

Lisette said...

You're welcome! The robot technique seems to be a good way to sedate a narcissist, but eventually they turn-on the charm to get attention. It's just another weapon in their arsenal that they use to manipulate us. We can't accept their behaviour at face value. There's ALWAYS pathological control behind it. It's them alright. They are NOT normal and should never be treated as such!

fashion person and/or persons said...

just by the way, if you do treat a Narcissist differently than you do others then you feed into his/her's delusion that he/her is different and therefore fundamentally inferior which is the whole reason that he/her developed a persona to create a sense of superiority in the first place

Anonymous said...

Yep, I can relate.Nfoo could careless if I was dead or alive... They have no interest in my life, never did. They've already proven that I don't exist to them. It's still hard to wrap my head around that.

sandeep1980 said...

I got a treasure trove of wisdom regarding narcs.The robot mode is so very true.I have a N father who has entered into a working partnership in a garment firm with another N (who is a distant cousin of his) since Feb 2010 & this cousin N is 100% illiterate,chronic alcoholic,pompous ass who understands nothing about the business he is in & has no idea about the role of something called a viable profit margin needed to sustain a business & earn profit.He shows up for work for hardly a week every month with rest of the days spent in weddings,birthdays,social get togethers or with weird diseases such as loose motions combined with chronic nausea & deathly fever & a frighteningly quivering voice over the phone to communicate his misery & the reason he cannot come to work.In spite of all this crap my N father seems to be very fond of his cousin N & occasionally scolds him just to seem normal before the puzzled staff workers.The business is in a mess.The supplier has refused to provide any more credit till all the dues are settled.Capital has eroded by almost 20% in 2 years.Still my N father has come up with a magical accounting by which he has dug out a profit of 20% & has given his cousin N 20% of the profit in cash.The idiocy of these both N's is talk of the town & yet somehow they both seem to be unaware of it.Both are enjoying their ball dance in the face of an impending bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. My boyfriend is a narcissist, and have been a a loss how to cope, with his put downs (not just of myself, but everyone around him), his incredible superiority complex, and his lying erratic behaviour. If I do well at something and cautiously share an accomplishment with him (which I rarely do), he attacks me and accuses me of being egotistical. He gets angry. Yet he braga all the time, especially in public. He shows off and brags and has to be the centre of attention, at any social gathering. His whole thrust when doing this, is to be superior to others and make them feel inferior by being condescending. He is getting worse, and opening mocks other people in public. He lies to me, then denies what he said later, saying I made it up. He gets angry. I can no longer cope with him. He's draining and exhausting, and I have learned not to believe in anything he says to reassure me, as he'll only take it back a week later of deny he ever said it. Even when caught out in a lie, he denies it to the end. If I didn't know the facts, I'd totally doubt myself. If backed into a corner, he retreats into silence,and simply refuses to speak. ....He's not upset. He just gets this shifty look about him..........I'm leaving him, because this last attack has done me in. It's left me confused and it's disorienting. I thought things were just getting a little better. But as usual, when I'm extra lovely and open to him and think we are getting emotionally closer, whammee!, he goes on the attack, and I end up hurt all over again. It's not worth it. He never wants affection, just for me to contantly take him out, entertain him, while he shows off to everyone and puts me down to others. And everywhere I take him, he criticises it and the people, and acts bored (like I failed him). He's convinced others are jealous of him because he's travelled around the world. He brags that others just feel privilged to "breathe the same air" as him.

But lately I've noticed, other people are getting irritated with his odious bragging and showing off. He's getting older now, and becoming a parody of himself. All it does, is look desperate, pathetic and childish....and well, ridiculous. I actually feel sorry for him. He's making a fool of himself.

If only he realised that, as he can stand anything, but being laughed at.

But I'm learning, pitying him won't help me. He'll still lie, he'll still put me down, he'll still lash out angrily at me for no reason and go on the attack, especially if he sees me do well at something. I need to leave. I tried so hard to make it work....But now I ask myself, what's the point of being with him????

Anonymous said...

This article is spot on. But, tired of being depressed by these "people", I now entertain myself ( when I HAVE to be around them -- like family, or business "friends") by not giving them one drop of info they can pump into supply. Drives them nuts. I keep hoping this will eventually make them go away for good, but no such luck. They're always circling the wagons for a meal because at one point in time the EAT HERE sign was flashing.

Lisette said...

It's amazing how these Ns can take one drop of info and pump it into supply. It's good to hear that you're not giving anything up to "them." My EAT HERE sign was flashing for so many Ns, for so many years, I'm sure they all still expect a free meal. No way, no how. It's NC or Robot Mode for me. You've sure got their number, Anonymous. I hope you drive them KARAZY...or crazier! Though I doubt those wagons will ever stop circling - *sigh*

Anonymous said...

No. My therapist says they collect people in order to feel normal. The other thing she drummed into me is that just bercause they're in contact with you doesn't mean they care. I always have to remind myself of that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisette:
Happy Easter - and as usual, great blog. Your blogs are definitely 'food for thought.' I've been in NC with my narcissistic siblings now for about five months and in LC with my NM - and I feel so liberated. Today is a special day for me because not only do I celebrate the Lord having set me free by his Cross and Resurrection, but I also celebrate today for having set myself free from narcissistic abuse. Although the Smear Campaigns against me began since I've gone NC with the Narcs, I feel great about it because it shows me that I have taken back ALL of my powers from them and they find that very threatening. How dare I? Ain't life grand, Lisette, when we're back in our power again?

Miasmaa said...

Also an adult survivor and I just want to say THANK YOU for your fantastic blog. Though I walked away from my likely NPD/BPD parent, I have recently run across another likely NPD... probably malignant in the workplace. Thanks for some new perspective on this.