What happens when a narcissist self destructs?

Narcissists and psychopaths dissociate (erase memories) a lot (are amnesiac) because their contact with the world and with others is via a fictitious construct: The false self. Narcissists never experience reality directly but through a distorting lens darkly. They get rid of any information that challenges their grandiose self-perception and the narrative they had constructed to explicate, excuse and legitimize their antisocial, self-centred and exploitative behaviors, choices and idiosyncrasies.

In an attempt to compensate for the yawning gaps in memory, narcissists and psychopaths confabulate: They invent plausible “plug ins” and scenarios of how things might, could, or should have plausibly occurred. To outsiders, these fictional stopgaps appear as lies. But the narcissist fervently believes in their reality: He may not actually remember what had happened-but surely it could not have happened any other way!

These tenuous concocted fillers are subject to frequent revision as the narcissist’s inner world and external circumstances evolve. This is why narcissists and psychopaths often contradict themselves. Tomorrow’s confabulation often negates yesterday’s. The narcissist and psychopath do not remember their previous tales because they are not invested with the emotions and cognitions that are integral parts of real memories.

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What happens if the narcissist fails to find Narcissistic Supply Sources (NSSs)?

This precipitates a narcissistic crisis. The narcissist becomes more desperate and more compulsive in looking for his drug. The more he fails, the more he is hurt and he expresses his emotional turmoil by acting out.

Moreover, the absence of SNSSs or their deficiency coupled with the resulting narcissistic crisis increase the fluctuations in the quantity of Narcissistic Supply and widen the Grandiosity Gap (between the grandiose fantasies of the narcissist and his less than glamorous reality). This volatility erodes the narcissist’s self-esteem, self-image, and self-confidence. The narcissist self-devalues and is reduced to depression and doubts.

In other words: the gap between the narcissist’s grandiose fantasies and reality is so wide that the FEGO‘s narcissistic defence mechanisms can no longer be maintained even with the use of strong repression and denial.

This triggers two defensive reactions. Their aim is to stabilise Narcissistic Supply and to reduce the narcissist’s emotional lability:

1.     The Reactive Repertoire is reawakened (encouraging the narcissist to flee the scene of his failures and thus create an alibi for future failures).

2.     An increase in the consumption of PNSSs (if SNSSs are deficient) or of SNSSs (if PNSSs are deficient).

This last measure does stabilise the situation in the short run but it has a destabilising effect in the longer run.

All this is done mainly to protect the FEGO. The narcissist “knows” that when the FEGO is shattered, the ability of the Hyperconstruct to resist the punitive influence of the SEGO dwindles and both TEGO and the narcissist’s relations with outside objects are in danger.


Psychopaths Get More Manipulative

Excessive and even sophisticated acts of deception

New research provides evidence that individuals with psychopathic personality traits tend to be more successful at convincing others that they are remorseful and gaining their trust. The study has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

“People who show characteristics of a psychopathic personality have been described as exhibiting very contradictory qualities,” said study author Kristopher J. Brazil (@brazkris), a PhD candidate at Brock University.

“On the one hand, they are usually described as having a personality pathology — and rightfully so, since they routinely perpetuate self- and other-damaging behaviors. Words like ‘maladaptive,’ ‘disordered,’ and ‘dysfunctional’ are often used to describe those with psychopathic traits, implying that there is something wrong with them.”

Continue reading “Excessive and even sophisticated acts of deception”

Narcissist: Fake it Till You Make It

Not unexpectedly, the communication styles of these two types of narcissists are completely different. The Potemkin narcissist is sensitive to form, protocol, decorum, and etiquette. He is hypervigilant, constantly on the lookout for signs of disrespect, insults, and slights. He reacts with unbridled rage to any hint of disregard, disagreement, or criticism. The narcissist of appearances is vindictive, holds grudges, and obsessive-compulsive in his reactions to such misconduct and awelessness. In contrast, the narcissist of substance tends to focus on content rather than delivery. He is pragmatic and willing to compromise and reach a consensus. He does not take everything personally and to heart. He bears no grudges and is, usually, not vindictive (though he may be decisive or even punitive).


Empathic dysfunction in psychopathic individuals

Introduction Psychopathy can be considered one of the prototypical disorders associated with empathic dysfunction. Reference to empathic dysfunction is part of the diagnostic criteria of psychopathy (Hare, 1991). The very ability to inflict serious harm to others repeatedly can be, and is (Hare, 1991), an indicator of a profound disturbance in an appropriate ‘empathic’ response to the suffering of another. The goal of this chapter will be to consider the nature of the empathic impairment in psychopathy. First, I will consider the disorder of psychopathy and the definition of empathy. Second, I will consider whether individuals with psychopathy are impaired in ‘cognitive empathy’ or Theory of Mind. Third, I will consider the cognitive and neural architecture mediating ‘emotional empathy’. Fourth, I will consider whether individuals with psychopathy are impaired in ‘emotional empathy’. The disorder of psychopathy The origins of the concept of psychopathy probably originate in the writings of Pritchard (1837); see Pichot (1978). Pritchard developed the concept of ‘moral insanity’ to account for socially damaging or irresponsible behaviour that was not associated with known forms of mental disorder. He attributed morally objectionable behaviour to be a consequence of a diseased ‘moral faculty’. While the notion of a ‘moral faculty’ has been dropped, modern psychiatric classifications such as the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (currently, DSM-IV) make reference to syndromes associated with high levels of antisocial behaviour: conduct disorder (CD) in children and antisocial personality disorder (APD) in adults. © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.


Psychopathy, Diminished Capacity, and Responsibility

Diminished capacity and actuality are partial responsibility defenses, developed in the recognition that the irrationalities, dyscontrol, and compulsions generated by mental abnormalities that lead to criminal offending exist along a spectrum and are rarely all or none phenomena as what is required for the insanity defense. In the diminished capacity defense, the presence of a mental disorder or abnormality is raised to cast doubt on the elements of mens rea that are part of a specific intent crime; a defendant may be found mentally incapable of forming the specific intent that is an intrinsic part of the definition of a crime. Psychopathy is a chronic disorder of empathy, poor behavioral controls, social deviance, and predatory violence. Within the interpersonal–affective domain, psychopaths demonstrate fearlessness, callousness, emotional detachment, and lack of empathy and remorse. Illnesses based only on antisocial conduct are excluded from qualifying in these insanity defenses.


Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

Professional Analysis:

A search was performed in both the general professional literature and then specifically in the Mental Measurements Yearbook (a professional guide and review of published assessment instruments) regarding the Impact of Parental Conflict Tool in order to review the instrument’s psychometric properties of:

  • The underlying theoretical foundations for the instrument’s development;
  • The operational definitions used in the instrument’s application;
  • The empirical studies demonstrating inter-rater reliability;
  • The empirical studies supporting the construct validity, content validity, concurrent validity, or predictive validity of the instrument.Based on this review of the professional literature, there appears to be no information in the professional literature which would support the psychometric properties of this assessment instrument.

What is pathological lying?

The article by Yang et al (2005) is provocative, thoughtful and intriguing and provided much food for thought. Participants were divided into three groups: liars, normal controls and antisocial controls. Half of those in the liars group were malingerers and the others displayed conning/manipulative behaviour on the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R), deceitfulness criteria for DSM-IV antisocial personality disorders or pathological lying as defined in the PCL-R. Yang et al referred to pathological liars specifically in the title of their paper but we are concerned that the definition of liars was so broad and wondered whether the article would not have been better entitled ‘Prefrontal white matter in liars’. The authors included individuals with different lying characteristics in a group of pathological liars and this is problematic.

Our recent review (Dike et al, 2005) showed that the term ‘pathological lying’ has been used differently in the literature from how it was used by Yang et al. Pathological lying is distinct from malingering or the other forms of lying exhibited by those included by Yang et al in the liars group. We defined pathological lying as ‘falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime’. Pathological lying is a repetitive pattern of lying for which an external reason (such as financial gain) often appears absent, and the psychological basis is often unclear. This definition has not been accepted by the psychiatric community but summarises the elements of pathological lying. Interestingly, we found that pathological lying can also be found among successful individuals without a history of criminal behaviour.

We commend Yang et al for investigating the neurobiological basis of lying. Whether the prefrontal white matter changes indicate a causal relationship with lying or just an association is unknown. However, pathological lying per se was not specifically investigated, as suggested.


Psychological trauma and Pathological Lying

Psychological trauma is damage to a person’s mind as a result of one or more events that cause overwhelming amounts of stress that exceed the person’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.[1] Trauma is not the same as mental distress.

Given that subjective experiences differ between individuals, people will react to similar traumatic events differently. In other words, not all people who experience a potentially traumatic event will actually become psychologically traumatized.[2] However, some people will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being exposed to a major traumatic event.[3] This discrepancy in risk rate can be attributed to protective factors some individuals may have that enable them to cope with trauma; they are related to temperamental and environmental factors from among others. Some examples are resilience characteristics and active seeking of help.[4]

The person may not remember what actually happened, while emotions experienced during the trauma may be re-experienced without the person understanding why (see Repressed Memory). This can lead to the traumatic events being constantly experienced as if they were happening in the present, preventing the subject from gaining perspective on the experience. This can produce a pattern of prolonged periods of acute arousal punctuated by periods of physical and mental exhaustion. This can lead to mental health disorders like acute stress and anxiety disorder, traumatic griefundifferentiated somatoform disorderconversion disordersbrief psychotic disorderborderline personality disorder, adjustment disorder, etc.[9]

In time, emotional exhaustion may set in, leading to distraction, and clear thinking may be difficult or impossible. Emotional detachment, as well as dissociation or “numbing out” can frequently occur. Dissociating from the painful emotion includes numbing all emotion, and the person may seem emotionally flat, preoccupied, distant, or cold. Dissociation includes depersonalisation disorder, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, etc. Exposure to and re-experiencing trauma can cause neurophysiological changes like slowed myelination, abnormalities in synaptic pruning, shrinking of the hippocampus, cognitive and affective impairment. This is significant in brain scan studies done regarding higher-order function assessment with children and youth who were in vulnerable environments.

Some traumatized people may feel permanently damaged when trauma symptoms do not go away and they do not believe their situation will improve. This can lead to feelings of despair, transient paranoid ideation, loss of self-esteem, profound emptiness, suicidality, and frequently, depression. If important aspects of the person’s self and world understanding have been violated, the person may call their own identity into question.[5] Often despite their best efforts, traumatized parents may have difficulty assisting their child with emotion regulation, attribution of meaning, and containment of post-traumatic fear in the wake of the child’s traumatization, leading to adverse consequences for the child.[10][11] In such instances, seeking counselling in appropriate mental health services is in the best interests of both the child and the parent(s).