Bad boundaries are both the alienator’s and narcissist’s redefined fenceline caused by the flagrant overstepping on meaningful attachments with others (Hotchkiss, 2003, pp. 27–31). Every human needs to belong to another outside of ourselves, yet we all have personal thoughts and feelings held private within us. From birth we are programmed to become an autonomous soul. Appropriate boundaries recognize this separation between people and sustain healthy relationships. NPAs nurture a grave character flaw that prevents them from recognizing that their boundaries and those of others are separate, different, and are not extensions of their own. Unless it is self-serving, they both rarely distinguish between their boundaries and those of others or their own children, because for the most part, boundaries are non-existent. The foul-mouthing and lies to their children by those around them is a classic example and is irreprehensible.
Dr. Vaknin describes “haughty body language” as the “adoptive physical posture,” which either implies or exudes an “air of superiority, seniority, hidden powers, mysteriousness, amused indifference, etc.” and the fact that although the narcissist usually “maintains sustained and piercing eye contact”, they often refrain from physical closeness and appropriately described as “territorial.” In social settings they watch “condescendingly, from a position of supremacy and ‘faux magnanimity and largesse”’ (Vaknina, 2003, p. 370). They expect others to comply with their every demand and to go straight to the top individual if they need to and will monopolize any given situation without waiting their turn. The narcissist who believes they are “‘above the law’ rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 661).
As narcissists needs their supply, so to do NPAs who overtly perform their verbal “idealization or devaluation” on those they come into contact. With the skill of a microsurgeon the NPA “flatters, adores, admires and applauds the ‘target’ in an embarrassingly exaggerated and profuse manner—or sulks, abuses and humiliates” them (Vaknin, 2003a, p. 371).
Narcissists are very polite when they know that they can benefit from the encounter (gaining supply), but when there is little for them to plunder, they will quickly deteriorate losing perfunctory civility en route by brandishing their sword with a thinly veiled layer of hostility, and then when cornered or under pressure they will resort to verbal saber-rattling, violent abuse, seething attacks, or cold-hearted withdrawal. They have an abnormal sense to belong, yet, at the same time they “belong”; they psychologically remain in the back row as an outsider. As the parental alienator plays “grand protector” to the child to go against the target parent, so too does the “the narcissist seek to be admired for his ability to integrate and ingratiate himself without investing the efforts commensurate with such an undertaking” (Vaknin, 2003a, p. 371). Both the parental alienator and narcissist project a False Self and play God by creating an imaginary concoction of their own inner being—unable to separate reality from their created Id—as are the narcissist’s victims unable to separate from them. Victims are frustrated with the ever-continuing illusive relief so often filled with helplessness and anger, because any effort to see through them was muddied by the narcissist’s tactics in the beginning of the relationship. In like manner, just as the Art of War is based on deception, so too is a pathological NPA a display of the art of self-deception personified.
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