Sunday, May 24, 2015

Narcissism ruins everything: or how I inadvertently started a twitter war with a narcissist

People might start out with the best of intentions to draw attention to a cause. They might start out intending to make the most of a bad situation.

I read an article about this lady who was treated shabbily by cadets at my alma mater :

Now what I noticed was that this lady, whom I've never met and have no impression of except her conduct in light of this news story was unprofessional in the extreme. She was making a point of airing her treatment by the college and staff very openly and really missing the point that was the important lessons about proper conduct for people in a college setting. What she was doing though was making the story about her treatment instead of the important point she was supporting.   I realized why it was she was acting in this way.

My mother is a narcissist.  My ex-wife is a narcissist.  After fighting a 5-year divorce legal battle and seeing every narcissistic trick in the book I can spot a narcissist from a mile away based on behaviour alone. I know when people are appearing to be nice when they really just want the attention, when they are spoiling what they are trying to do by missing the point because their view of reality is not a normal locus of control.  By normal I mean somewhere between "I am the centre of the universe" and "I am an insignificant bug at the far end of the universe". Most people can see both sides of the story; my side, your side, and the truth in the middle.

Unlike a psychologist that sees a patient an hour a week, I lived in constant battle with a female narcissist that used our kids as a weapon, warped their mentality by involving them in the divorce strictly against the judges orders,  abandoned them for 3 weeks and left me to take care of them, stole my paycheck and my credit cards so I couldn't buy milk for her kids, used threats, intimidation, authority figures to pressure me, threatened to come over and take anything from my house, lied to me, manipulated everything, and everyone. Threatened to drop off my 6 and 8 year old kids at my house when I wasn't there because I missunderstood the wrong handover time. While all the time taking on the role of a victim so the assumed attacker was male. All the while making a point to cast me as the abuser and herself as the victim.

I know a lot more than most people about narcissism.

For a narcissist, we are all extensions of their psyche. We only exist because we serve a purpose to them.  I'm not kidding. If we fall out of favour we are cast out and forgotten. Or worse. There is no abuse too excessive for anyone that disagrees with a narcissist.

My mother hasn't spoken to my almost 90-year old grandmother in 4 years. She cut out all her family members and hurt them all.  Why? I tried to explain it all to my grandmother. That this was her personality, when they can't take looking in the mirror and seeing bad things about themselves that are true they are apt to destroy everything and throw out everyone and run away and start a new life. I tried to tell my grandmother it wasn't her fault. My mom can't handle a poor reflection of herself. Everything bad they do is rationalized as someone else's fault. And anything that makes them look bad is attacked in the extreme. Beyond reason. Beyond civility.

Now when I label something, most people assume I'm angry.  In fact, I'm as factual saying "narcissist" as I am saying "tree" or "dog".  It is what it is.

When someone is fighting for the rights of others that is a noble cause. Maybe even a noble (or even a Nobel ) cause. I applaud that in it's entirety.  Now this lady was at my alma mater educating them about date rape and the law, and the male cadets as the story goes did not like what she was saying. Or how she was saying it or both.  I think they should have chosen their words better or their avenue to complain properly. Maybe file a lecture review and complain about how the instructor acted. Challenge the ideas is one thing but attacking the instructor is wrong. Never confront the instructor personally. That would not be acceptable in any case.

What she claims is that she was owed an apology from the school, and the college believe she owed them an apology for how she acted as a professional.  I can't say who's right and that wasn't my point.

The point I thought was most disagreeable is that she was acting as an outragist to garner attention to herself as the victim.  She very well might be the victim of an impolite and unprofessional experience. But when you manufacture a situation for self-aggrandizement you are no longer working for your cause. When I see a narcissist exploiting a good cause and good people to make themselves validated then I sometimes lose my calm because I see what's going on and I'm not one to stay silent any longer. They ruin what other people are fighting for out of a need for personal validation.

Unfortunately, when you are dealing with a narcissist, they can't see the larger point of what is at stake - in this case awareness that consent is important legally and rape is a crime and that college people need to know the law - while a narcissist sees attention and notoriety.  There is no compromise for the greater good. There is no win-win. There is only narcissist win- desenters/detractors lose.

I made a tactical move to tell her what I thought of her behavior to this lady to see what she would do. Well, what I didn't know because I had only sent 8 tweets in my life, is that I was making a public tweet. Ooops. I do apologize for airing in public what I thought was a personal communication. Mea culpa, I do not know how to tweet.

I'm sorry Miss Lalonde for airing in public what I thought was a personal communication.

So this tweet I sent was public.  Do you know what she did? She made sure to rebroadcast it again to all her followers with a fake "I'm polite and offended but I'm acting all nice" response.

Is that the act of a person avoiding personal attention?
She called it a personal attack. Is that the action of a person trying to minimize an insult?

She claimed she was stating facts yet I was attacking her personally. The victim role is very useful to a narcissist because it makes anything they do next seem reasonable. They can now call you Hitler and it's OK because you commented on them first.

What followed was a backlash of angry uninformed emotional people rallying to the defense of a vicitm. Am I insane?  Probably, for taking on a narcissist. But I've taken them on before and I am not going let people with unwise intentions run rampant over everything and everyone for their EGO and nothing else.

Sounds like I am an abuser is what another person implied. I am an abuser for pointing out I find her conduct was unprofessional and she was acting like a narcissist?  And when I did complain she acted EXACTLY like a narcissist would. My facts are demonstrated. QED.

I was not committing an ad hominem attack to my mind, I was pointing out behaviour that was unproductive to the cause. The only way to do that was to provoke the behaviour. Stimulus, reponse. Response fits the pattern. Pattern is likely.

If my facts are wrong, if I don't know what I am talking about then how was I able to predict and provoke the reponse I thought I would get from some random person I have never met? In ONE tweet!?!? A poorly understood and mistakenly public tweet. Again, I am sorry I did think it was a private conversation. But she made sure to publicize it, she made sure to maximize the outrage at my insult. Why?

Do you understand why I decided not to let this go? Because this person will continue to act in this way, and treat everyone the same way and others may not be aware of it.

If this young lady had said instead, "Well I don't agree with you.", and left it at that then I would have apologized for insulting her and the matter would be over. A class act is what I might have thought of her at that point. But the response was what I expected.

My facts were not facts, my opinions are facts I believe to be true based on evidence. Are my facts any less substantial than her own? She complained of abuse based on her opinion of her own treatment at the college.  So HER facts are true because they MUST be TRUE because she believes them.

People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behavior. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy.[5]


Symptoms of this disorder, as defined by the DSM-5, include:[6]
A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifested by:

1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):
a. Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.

b. Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations.


2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
a. Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others.

b. Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others' experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain
B. Pathological personality traits in the following domain:

  1. Antagonism, characterized by:

a. Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others.

b. Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.
C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.
D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual's developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.
E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).


Symptoms of this disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR, include:[1]

  • Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
  • Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
  • Envies others and believes others envy him/her
  • Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
  • Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
  • Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
  • Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

But since I dared to complain they were a personal attack so I am an abuser?

Did I agree with rapists? Was I a rapist? Did I have no empathy for vicitms?  Funny, I don't recall actually providing an opinion on that subject at all because that was never my point.  Funny how quickly other people got to imply the hell out of my complaint to insinuate anything they pleased? Should I complain about my treatment and be a victim too?

Do you see how narcissists blunt the main objective and ruin the cause they are "working" for?  Everything becomes about them all the time. People should not let narcissists run the cause.

In the end, the backlash misses the point. And how are real victims getting the attention they deserve? How is that cause going? It's not because if you criticise a narcissist well here comes hellfire and evil words for your impertinence. In the end it was all valuable computer time wasted on indignation and not on promoting the real cause.  All to satisfy someone's EGO.

What she failed to see and will probably fail to see is that her actions were tarnishing an enormous amount of innocent and probably unaware people by insinuating that all the cadets were acting badly when perhaps a few people were.  Does she plan to contain her complaint to the few that deserve it?

Woe unto those of us that dare to challenge a narcissist. People that aren't narcissists should be very aware of those that act that way. Be careful how quickly you jump up to defend one because sooner or later you will displease that same person and find yourself in the crosshairs. No good deed goes unpunished with a narcissist. I know it personally in more than a twitter comment, I live with the aftermath of narcissists everyday.

Think of it this way, a narcissist would rather put a gun against everyone else's head to get their way than make a small diplomatic retreat to protect the reputation of the important work they are doing or the people that they are supposedly advocating for.  They would rather ten people suffer than one person make an apology. Especially if the apology had to come from a narcissist.

Narcissism ruins everything. It neutralizes the real cause because it makes the story about them personally instead of the cause. The cause is the conduit to more attention. Narcissists are just as likely to implode the cause they and others are working so hard to improve if it makes them seem poorly. Be careful who you take your marching orders from.

This is how someone can address a story about a rape story without making themselves the centre of attention. Jon Stewart is a classy person that uses his platform and humour to promote attention to a cause without making it all about Jon Stewart.