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The Narcissistic Mind

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posted on May, 18 2015 @ 02:48 AM
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This world has one too many narcissists in it. And that's bad. It's bad because narcissists disturb the dynamics of a system into oscillatory behavior. Which means chaotic, disequilibrated behavior.

The quintessential narcissist are the types of people characterized on Game of Thrones. The House Lannister, Tyrell and others, engage in this suave way of talking where they act as if they don't know what the other person is asserting they know. Intersubjective communication, or the sheer "mind aware of it's own mind", is entirely absent.

Experience for such a person is a game of chess, as it were, where 'hyper-cognitive' mentation configures reality in such a way by enacting fantasies of themselves in relation with other people. The Narcissistic mind is fundamentally about defense. For whatever early life contextual performances it was subject to, the person learns to relate to the world wholly from the vantage point of its own experience. Others - perhaps because others related to them in such a fashion - occur with their minds as "objects", understood as people and having, in a purely cognitive-science sort of way, minds that understand. But their relation to this perception is almost devoid of the affective-bodily elements that give any experience its subjective validity.

The narcissistic functions as a shell of its true self. The outside - whats given to the other - is tactical and restrained. What is given over is first weighed, if not consciously, always unconsciously, to consider how this would benefit the self in light of meaningful object-relations, of things in life which matter to them and incite intense desire. Social status. Power. Money.

The narcissist loves the experience - affectively - of finding themselves subjecting another person to their wills. In that situation, they are the active and agentic one. Feelings pass into action, and they become more alive in their narcissistic self-convictions.

Emotions and the knowledge they convey about the state of the 'organism-system' are repeatedly refused entry into the frontal lobes. Living is almost synonymous with lying. In their way of being in the world, they cannot touch upon the hurts that exist in them, buried beneath the years of chronic conditioning, of a period early on which impressed a certain harshness into their psyche. The notion of shame, anxiety, and a feeling of helplessness, is utterly contemptible. The Narcissistic will build up it's psychic shell and send out it's armies to protect itself from the prying mind of the therapist. They of course do not see therapists, as most therapists would attest. Why would they go when life, for them, is so utterly conceived as sane and healthy?

In speaking about narcissistic minds, I do not mean the healthy narcissism that Heinz Kohut rightfully pointed out. If at anytime one relates with the other in acute reference - implicitly - to how one is experiencing oneself - than that is an essentially narcissistic experience. Of course, in many experiences, there is often competing perceptions. Love for self AND love for the other. But most naturally, as animals who evolved on planet earth, we are as prone to self-regard as any other creature. And for good reason: it keeps us alive as individuals.

But the individuals we find ourselves being is etiologically dependent on the social contexts we enter in life. These environments interact with our nascent and growing - "complexifying" - mind, with every day. New experiences interact with old experiences to produce reenforcing feedbacks or rebalancing feedbacks. The way were touched, spoken to, and the contexts are experiences unfurl within, have unique effects that interact with earlier effects. Our minds are chemistry kits from the moment were born. Affects, lead to emotions, which lead to social emotions, which lead to sophisticated cognitions. But throughout, it is the horrible feelings, the affects and emotions, which underlie the logic of human thinking.

The Narcissist is an extreme which relies upon dissociation of existential facts about being human. They insist on a naivete about what can be known. They do not trust self-awareness, and will insist so - in super-cognitive autism - that the self-awareness I (or anyone else) attest to possess is any useful guidance in understanding the "gist" of what happens in other minds.

But in fact, its solid science to extrapolate from animal models to human models. Animals, mammals, primates, basically all have simple prerogatives: adapt to survive. And what is adaptive, at the most basic level, is the homeostatic viability of the physical organism. The physical organisms viability is it's ability to "manage" the feedbacks that push its body into disequilibrium. In early cellular life, this is pretty non-consciousness like. But the cognitive 'management' is there. Cellular life is definitely intelligent.

When you get to mammals the social and emotion elements of connection 'fuse' minds by carving out similar nervous systems. Each organism in a species MUST be like the other, because the fundamental purpose (or behavior) of the organism is to survive not merely physically, but emotionally and cognitively as well; which means, in psychic connection with other conspecifics. Emotional survival requires a 'management' that evolution has evidently conserved, but largely at a homeostatic level, by biasing the mind to 'not think about' and ultimately, to 'dissociate' (throw into unconsciousness), those bad parts of ourselves. Evidently, the brain keeps track of these things because all sorts of weird trauma symptoms show that a mere element of a traumatizing experience (a color, a look, a gesture, a way of looking, etc) can trigger the originating traumatic emotion.

The narcissist, in effect, in systems terms, is "disordered". We can also call this "mentally ill". But they are an enormously tricky group of people to convince this of. They will reject and dismiss and work from a hundred different angles to avoid accepting the point you're making. They will withdraw from emotional contact - empathy - and function almost wholly in the I-It mode, listening, relaxingly mocking, or getting intense in hope of "throwing you into submission". They are wild-animals without a conscious "captain" to guide the ship of their earthly existence.

Of course, all human beings possess the capacity for change. But the narcissistics psychic structure is formidable. Nothing less than a total change of context and enforced psychotherapy would help them. But that, of course, is utterly illegal, not to mention unethical. My purpose in mentioning that is to make clear just how desperate unwanted emotions make us. When they arise, we either identify or not. Not identifying causes confusion and anxiety. Finding ourselves in the direction of our "object-relation" and the emotion therein, gives our lives meaning, even though in the case of the narcissistic, it it completely delusional.

My idea of healthy is balance. This is what the body shows us in it's structure. The immune system, a "body within our body", literally defines "us" at the physiological level. It is always gathering information about cells in its body. It knows itself, and it is only healthy when it can both target invaders and know it's own tissue.




posted on May, 18 2015 @ 03:02 AM
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The medical doctor and writer Gabor Mate plausibly argues that the bodily immune system is "entrained" to the dynamics of the psychological "immune system". Because the psychological immune system is similarly established in terms of "self-other" boundaries, the properties at one system can 'align' with activities in another system.

For example, he gives the example of pathological niceness and ALS, or motor neuron disease. People who are pathologically nice have dissociated elements of their self-experience which feels anger and upset. Instead, these people live as compliant and eager-to-please types. In a sense, they have lost their sense of 'conscious agency', living almost entirely for the other, and thus, "cannot move the world" - cannot make their own feelings and assertions in life known. As a result, overtime, the immune system misrecognizes cells in the brain associated with movement with invaders.

A more plausible example, however, is alzheimers. In Alzheimers, neurons in the hippocampus develops tangles and plaques - misshapen proteins - and begin to lose the ability to remember what they just experienced. In this condition, Mate mentons Ronald Reagan and the way he would 'equivocate' experience by conflating it with categories that were not actually lived (i.e. were movies he watched). Reagans attachment to reality was at time dreamy. He made of it what he did out of a naive belief that humans can just think it is so, and it is so.

The human brain doesn't agree. Things that we experience need to be experienced. The conscious mind, in attending to negative experience, can look upon it with compassion and so "dynamically integrate it" as a coherent "fact" of the evolving self-system.

In the Alzheimers patient, as Mate implies (though perhaps not in all cases) the immune system attacks a part of the brain that frontal-lobe dynamics "hold" in continuous dysrecognition. Assuming that the homeostatic principle of biological functioning applies at all times, an unrecognized emotion (anger, anxiety, shame) is out of whack with the logic of the system - that the emotions EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE to inform the organism how to act and defend itself. The implicit, knee-jerk narcissistic response is a response that throws the entire system - the entire system at large, into chaos.

Thus, a world with rampant disease, poverty, malnutrition, amidst another world of plenty, opportunity, and growth. Of course, "out of sight, out of mind", as child psychologists say. If we don't see it, our minds naturally "work around knowing it" - that is, how utterly unfair and unjustified our current habits of being are.



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 03:07 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

one word: selfie-stick.

Great thread. I've flagged it for reading later.



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 04:00 AM
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Excellent thread, OP!


I've been studying narcissism for several months, after being in a relationship with one for 10 years... Thank god it's over, but I'm left half-broken. She was the worst kind: the "covert narcissist".

Here is a video by an excellent life coach / therapist describing the covert narcissist to a T.


If any of you have ever been in a relationship with a covert narcissist, you will be amazed by this video, and you will much better understand what you went through. This will be an eye-opener.

But chances are high that you will not have been able to put your finger on exactly what is wrong with this person. They will appear perfect in every way, too good to be true, but soon enough you will notice that there is something not at all right with them. You will notice that there is something lurking behind the mask.

I would be very interested in hearing from others who were in a relationship with this kind of "person" (I don't consider them completely human, for that to me requires empathy.

soulwaxer



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 04:12 AM
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a reply to: rukia

No. This is ATS,

Selfie sticks are for those that 'hold out' ...

Deny Ignorance.



Ed: @ OP - Apologies for the light aside ...
edit on 18-5-2015 by Timely because: Courtesy




posted on May, 18 2015 @ 05:08 AM
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originally posted by: soulwaxer
I would be very interested in hearing from others who were in a relationship with this kind of "person" (I don't consider them completely human, for that to me requires empathy.


I decided at one point that my ex might have had NPD. Others have told me that they thought he was a sociopath. He invented a reality and I was gullible enough to love him enough to want to believe in that reality. The actual reality was that I was too laid back, happily avoiding reality in my self-imposed bubble. He once told me that it was because I was able to bend so much that he felt compelled to break me. He got very close.

There comes a time when you can't look yourself in the eye anymore. I had to make a decision, was what he was saying about me true, was I an idiot whore, would my son be better off if I was dead? Of course, that last one, that was the mistake, his mistake, because that made me realise that none of this was about me, I'd made that choice when I chose to get pregnant, to care for and protect. If I was dead, he'd be the one to do that, I couldn't possibly trust him to do that, what was I thinking? By the time I realised where I was, I was almost entirely isolated and close to making a decision that would have isolated me completely.

I don't know whether he is NPD now, or if he was, almost seven years on and I realise that we were not a healthy relational dynamic. We bounced off each other in all the wrong ways, and we are both victims and aggressors in that, passively or otherwise. We have the most beautiful son and it would do him a disservice if I was to simply apply a label to his father, blaming him for everything that went wrong in our relationship. I can and have changed in those seven years, if I have that capability it is only fair that I accept that he can change too, whether he decides to is a another matter.

Those experiences, and a prolonged extraction process that was a highly intensive attempt to break me once and for all, have left scars and though I had already removed myself, emotionally, from the relationship, it took me way too long to draw the line under the situation and ask for the help I needed. Calling the Police was the hardest thing. It was a long time until dawn broke and I was able to fully pick myself up and dust myself off sufficiently to gain any real sense of perspective of the situation.

We have a civil relationship now, we can laugh and joke superfically, and we can, to the extent that he shows an interest in doing so, co-parent, but most importantly, he and his son have a loving relationship. He is in no ways perfect, he doesn't have to be, my son is learning to love him warts and all, and his father seems to appreciate that enough to make the effort to maintain visitations. He may try and push my buttons from time to time, but his ability to do so lessens with time and absence of reaction on my part takes all the fun out of it for him.

Long story short. I don't think that NPD, or any other personality type is 'bad' or 'evil', or that any are inherently 'good' either. Neither do I think that they are fixed and unchanging, some aspects or modes of expression may be, but over all, we can understand ourselves and in turn modify the way we appreciate ourselves in relation to others in order to improve the quality of our interactions with both our environment and the other life, human or otherwise, that we share it with.
edit on 18-5-2015 by Anaana because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 06:21 AM
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a reply to: Anaana

Thank you for replying to my post. Your view of your ex and the slack you give him is very respectable. BUT: If he truly suffers from NPD, he will likely never really change. Even if he were to go into psychotherapy, chances are that it would only teach him to play his role better, much like what happens to a psychopath or sociopath.

Everything my ex did was for herself, although to the outside world she seems like the perfect mother. At home, she would give our oldest son (who is hypersensitive) his way every time he got emotionally upset, which she couldn't handle. Or she would completely dissociate and ignore him, while he just sat there crying. Then I'd take him away from her in a different room and comfort him. At the start of this school year, she wasn't happy about him not being in the same class as her best friend's daughter (whom he never plays with at school), and went to the principal to have him put in her class. She is a control freak in every way, and if she doesn't get her way, she becomes vicious.

Now, we are living apart, and I see the kids every two weekends. Every time it's time for them to go back to her (and her new victim boyfriend who has already moved in) my kids cling to me crying. I am working out a way to get at least 50/50 custody with my lawyer, but this will no doubt become a war. So be it, I will fight her tooth and nail if I have to, for my kids.

soulwaxer



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 06:39 AM
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I grew up surrounded by the worst sort of NPD, it is not a nice thing.

As for society NPD, it is hideous and everywhere. Threads on ATS even discussing it's various forms have been shut down before rational and sane thought could be established.

Narcissism is an inherent human trait and is acceptable if controlled, recognised and in small, appropriate, constructive ways.

As for the all out ''look at me'', ''celebrate my condition'', ''it's all about me'', ''think my way and no other way'' mentality that society has headed towards, it has to stop, it is destructive to decent society, it will eat itself and is ruinous.

Moral compasses should be pointing in the right direction, traditional values valued, righteousness established and the 'helter skelter ride to doom' wave of grotesque narcissism toppled.



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 07:07 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

There is an easy cure for narcissism.

Pain and suffering. Enough pain and suffering overloads narcissist ego. It works, I've already seen it.

It happened to me. Dum dum duummmm



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 07:09 AM
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originally posted by: soulwaxer
Now, we are living apart, and I see the kids every two weekends. Every time it's time for them to go back to her (and her new victim boyfriend who has already moved in) my kids cling to me crying. I am working out a way to get at least 50/50 custody with my lawyer, but this will no doubt become a war. So be it, I will fight her tooth and nail if I have to, for my kids.



Believe me when I tell you this, if it wasn't for my son, and the importance that I attach to confronting rather than fleeing life's difficulties, I would never lay eyes on him again. I have forgiven (myself mainly), not forgotten, my defenses, both as a woman and more over as a mother, are firmly in place. I only allow so much lee way. He has to want to change, I know that, out of respect from my son, all I do is allow him the room to do so in his capacity as a father.

In terms of custody, never an issue other than as a pawn. No lee way there. Access was refused by me until he ended that game. I protected myself heavily, legally yes, but also emotionally and physically. Eventually though, no reaction, nothing to feed on, they exhaust themselves.

I never had Sun Tzu far from hand. Always be several steps ahead, the NPD is inherently lazy, needs the energy that they take from others negatively. My Mum has NPD tendencies, hence my vulnerability to being unaware and instead disassociating from the situation, I consider such attacks against me to be normal and it was only when the attacks were physical that I was forced to appreciate that may be this wasn't "normal".

I know it is not for everyone, but passive resistence, aggressively thought (fought) through in strategic terms, was the long hard road, I lost battles, but I am winning the war or rather, my family unit, me and my boy, are.

Best of luck to you and yours.



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 08:41 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte
Heaps of narcissists in the music industry, oh my god. Hard to spot at first because they are so good at covering it but it comes out in the end.



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 08:48 AM
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a reply to: grumpy64

And the art industry, in which I practice and work. It's often the least talented wannabe artists that are the narcissists, building a web of egocentric spin as an attempt at drawing in others to their perceived notion of themselves. It also unravels for them as people see through their guise.
edit on 18-5-2015 by theabsolutetruth because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 09:15 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte
I appreciate your post and understand you are mainly speaking of the more clinical version of Narcissism, with some consideration of "healthy" Narcissism.

I think it is important to recognize that everyone is Narcissus staring into the pond (of mind) that only reflects oneself - until there is real awakening from this illusion of separate self.

At root, we are only in love with our own separate self-image until we see through the illusion of separation that mind actually generates moment to moment.

All the rest of the consideration is relative to degrees of Narcissism, and of course, that is useful and helps us to understand this syndrome better, deal with it in others when it is abusive, and even see it more clearly in ourselves.

However, seeing this syndrome in ourselves is necessary for real self-understanding, and also for a more compassionate understanding of those who animate Narcissism in more abusive ways, and how to deal with it in a manner that may make a difference.


edit on 5/18/2015 by bb23108 because:



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 01:48 PM
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originally posted by: theabsolutetruth
I grew up surrounded by the worst sort of NPD, it is not a nice thing.

As for society NPD, it is hideous and everywhere. Threads on ATS even discussing it's various forms have been shut down before rational and sane thought could be established.

Narcissism is an inherent human trait and is acceptable if controlled, recognised and in small, appropriate, constructive ways.

As for the all out ''look at me'', ''celebrate my condition'', ''it's all about me'', ''think my way and no other way'' mentality that society has headed towards, it has to stop, it is destructive to decent society, it will eat itself and is ruinous.

Moral compasses should be pointing in the right direction, traditional values valued, righteousness established and the 'helter skelter ride to doom' wave of grotesque narcissism toppled.

I agree whole-heartedly!


soulwaxer



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 02:22 PM
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originally posted by: bb23108
a reply to: Astrocyte
I appreciate your post and understand you are mainly speaking of the more clinical version of Narcissism, with some consideration of "healthy" Narcissism.





I think that what he is describing is a sociopath actually. They have narcissistic tendencies to be sure, but it is different. On the other hand I think that narcissism is a primary component to any sociopath but that clinical detachment from others that is inherent to a sociopath is not necessarily a key feature of a "narcissist"; conflating the two is an over simplification. Other than that, I liked the post.



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 03:49 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

What would you think and say of someone if they were an exceptionally great and significant person who was a narcissist but could not be as great and significant person if they did not have their narcissistic traits?

For hypothetical example; think of any great great genius of history, and imagine they were an absolute narcissist;

Is there a point where the positives outweigh the negatives?

And does this path of thinking, lead to the total justification of all narcissism?



posted on May, 18 2015 @ 04:15 PM
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a reply to: redhorse
Good point.

My main point is that at root we are all Narcissus in the sense that we believe we are independent separate entities over against an external reality. We are staring into a pond of our own perceptions and constantly creating points-of-view via attention, which in turn creates in us a sense of being separate.

But in fact we are never separate from reality itself. Where is this illusory separate entity if it does indeed exist? It is just a constant activity of separating from our inherent condition of relatedness (connectedness) - it is not an actual entity, but it is what everyone suffers until this automaticity is understood and transcended.

So until this root activity is undone, we are all Narcissus. But our collective social egoity defines what is "okay" narcissism and what is not. In some sense, the really outrageous narcissists provide a caricature of what we all are potentially, save for our "healthy" social overlays - and that caricature may be useful enough sometimes (though obviously we do need controls relative to those abusing others).

Someone really drunk will often readily demonstrate their own brand of narcissism that is going on below their social overlay too, as I am sure many of us have seen or even been. You know the old adage - In vino veritas.

But perhaps I venture off-topic with this universal aspect of Narcissism that we all need to awaken from.



posted on May, 19 2015 @ 04:05 AM
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Merely the simple act of composing this thread dubs you too, a narcissist.

There's no escaping it bwahaha *sarcastic, vacant, monotone, ironical, evil laugh, followed by an immediate change in topic*

Banana bread.





edit on 19-5-2015 by Acatalepsia because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 19 2015 @ 04:48 AM
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I really want to hesitate labelling narcissists, because it seems to have become such a fad - anyone you are mad at is now a narcissist. How can you be sure that your anger that they aren't respecting or treating you as you want them to, isn't a product of your own narcissism?

The analyzation of others you are involved with has to lead to some self analyzation though - if you find yourself repeatedly in relationships with narcissists... is the important part determining what they are, or is determination of why you were with them in the first place?

He mentioned a bit on this- the theories concerning "reverse narcissists" as well as this "shy narcissist". You get someone ashamed of their narcissism, repressing it, and needing a partner who will overtly express it, confirming their desire to be "the selfless one" in contrast (while also sort of living it out through them).

If your ex is an ex, then they're gone, and your labelling them does nothing to or for them. It might, however, aid you to determine YOUR problems, be more self aware, and maybe make different choices in the future?

I don't know, all of this actually exists on spectrums, and catagorizing people sometimes just seems impossible. Everyone is a mix of ambivalences and internal conflicts of varying sorts. Even here, what we're looking at is a person who is ashamed of their narcissism, trying to destroy it (which just has the effects of making it grow inside, as most repression does).
So how could it helps us, as individuals, to take a firm judgement of badness upon narcissism? If it influence more people to shove it down and make it grow?
edit on 19-5-2015 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 19 2015 @ 10:20 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

I need to re-read this again, very interesting and fun read. Thank you.

Question: To put this out there publicly (the philosophy of narcissism) instead of keeping it your heart and mind; falls into what category of narcissism?

I see it as healthy based on the insight and unhealthy based on the need to share.

The same can be said for my responding.




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