The psychopath and the sycophant (“psycho fan”)
Whether we realize it or not, we all have at least one narcissist in our lives. In fact, according to authors Jean Twenge, PhD and Keith Campbell, PhD, there is a narcissism epidemic in this country. (The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Free Press, 2009, Twenge PhD., Campbell, PhD.).
After reading this eye opening book I found myself thinking about this subject in general and agree with the authors that narcissism is sweeping our country and wreaking havoc on the personal, social and professional relationships of the masses. Most of us, however, live in denial. We don’t want to view someone we look up to as a narcissist and we certainly don’t want to acknowledge the hold narcissists have on us and on the world at large. We also live in denial about the part we play in the creation of the narcissist and the perpetuation of…
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Healing from narcissistic abuse
Great article by Paul Levy (a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, and a healer in private practice) regarding psychiatric abuse (psychiatry’s invalidation of trauma and protection of the abuser). Psychiatry makes the sane ones.. the sick ones, the invalids (the in-valids).
I am a survivor of severe psychiatric abuse. There was a year or so in the early 1980’s when I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals at least four times. During my visits to the hospital I was in the midst of a spiritual awakening that I was struggling to contain that was triggered and complicated by extreme psychological abuse at the hands of my father, who was a very sick man. I was suffering so deeply from the psychic violence perpetrated upon my mother and me by my father that it was making me “sick.” One of the most difficult parts of my ordeal in the hospitals was not being listened to by the psychiatrists, either about the abuse by my father or the spiritual awakening. Spiritual emergences/emergencies oftentimes become activated because of a deep experience of wounding, abuse, or trauma. In its initial stage, a spiritual awakening can look like and mimic a nervous breakdown, as our habitual structures of holding ourselves together fall apart and break down so that a deeper and more coherent expression of our intrinsic wholeness can emerge. The spiritual awakening aspect of my experience was so off psychiatry’s map that it wasn’t even remotely recognized. Instead of hearing me, about either the abuse or the awakening, I was immediately pathologized and labeled as the sick one. Being cast in the role of the “identified patient,” I was assured that I was going to be mentally ill for the rest of my days, as if I was being given a life sentence with no possibility for parole, with no time off for good behavior. The fact that I wanted to dialogue about this and question their diagnosis was proof, to the psychiatrists in charge of me, of my illness. The whole thing was totally nuts. Fully licensed and certified by the state, the psychiatric system’s abuse of its position of power was truly unconscionable. What the profession of psychiatry was unconsciously en-acting was truly crazy-making for those under their dominion. I was lucky to escape the psychiatric world with my sanity intact. Many others are not so fortunate.
I just read an entire article (it was long) on ‘how to explain to people why you have no contact with your family’..
I’ve got to admit I found it annoying.
I don’t feel I have to explain anything. I had my first experience of this on the weekend.
On Saturday I spoke to a guy from my meetup about how I’d had a bad last few months. I didn’t say much just that I’d been going through a rough spell over Christmas with my family as I had made the difficult decision to cut them out of my life.
In retrospect I guess that sounds pretty bad to the average person..
Suddenly he went on a rampage to say that he had ‘sensed’ all along I was a drama queen, and ‘who does that’ … most people just accept people’s flaws without doing the drama of ‘divorcing’ them.
I didn’t react. Mostly because I know who I am. I’m not a drama queen. He doesn’t know the details of my life. And clearly what he said came from someplace else.
He made this assumption clearly in front of the entire group but I didn’t feel the need to explain any further.
I simply said that it was an act of self preservation.
I actually like this guy and I didn’t take it personally. I feel for him, his life is difficult and somehow I bring up a lot of stuff in him.
He came from a dysfunctional family of alcoholic parents, had a major car accident at 19, was told he’d never walk again but he defied the odds. Although .. in his words (people think I’m drunk when I walk..). He legs don’t work properly and sometimes he needs crutches. He probably late 30s and lives with his parents (I assume he feels he needs their help due to the accident, not sure).
Maybe my choices make him uncomfortable, because he knows he has to find a way to be independent of them.
He’s judgemental, cynical, bitter and unhappy. He’s in emotional pain. He judges me a lot. I almost feel he projects his mother on to me.
In the group everyone has been through some sort of personal hell. We’re all survivors, and we have made the brave decision to trust and love people again but it isn’t easy.
So do I have to explain..
I remember years ago a 45 year old woman telling me she left home and had gone no contact at 16 years old from her mother. She never saw her again.
I never asked why I just understood and assumed she must of had a damn good reason.
Many years later she told me some details of her childhood, it was more shocking than I could have imagined. She never had to explain in detail to me, I had already accepted her choice without judgement.
Saying ‘my family are unhealthy for me and going no contact is an act of self preservation’ is enough.
I’ve already been through enough ‘drama’
7 Tips for how to cope
It’s that time of year again, when the holidays roll around and what’s already tough to deal with — becomes so much tougher! PTSD symptoms can make even the happiest family difficult to be around during the holidays. Today, seven tips about how to make it through.
1 – Stay in the moment; don’t think ahead. Sometimes, just the thought of Christmas dinner, around all those happy people who didn’t understand my state of mind, was enough to bring on a surge of anxiety days and even weeks ahead. Keep yourself present TODAY rather than upping the anxiety ante by imagining what some future day will be like. (Actually, this is a good practice year round!)
2 – Strategize your holidays. Decide in advance who you want to see, and who you don’t; what you will do, and what you won’t; where you will go and where you won’t. Plan out your activities so that you spend the most time with people who are good for you and minimize contact with everyone else.
3 – Have an escape plan. You can’t always anticipate how you’re going to feel and who’s going to say or do what affects you. Have a backup plan so that if you need to make a quick getaway you have an out.
4 – Incorporate alone time. In the hustle and bustle of holidays it’s helpful to carve out time when you can decompress. Decide in advance when that will be, and stick to it so that you have built in periods of downtime to regroup.
5 – Do what feels comfortable. Family and friends can really get going in a whirling dervish of plans and activities during the holiday season. It’s okay for you to say, “No!”. Pick and choose what you want to participate in and then draw the line. There’s nothing wrong with a little boundary setting during this time of year.
6 – Pace yourself. If you feel you’re getting too caught up and overcommitted on the party circuit, slow down. It’s better to unmake plans than go through with them and bring on a meltdown. When you feel yourself reaching your limit pull back.
7 – Maintain your privacy. Properly managing PTSD during the holidays doesn’t require you to explain PTSD to everyone you know. It’s all right to decline an invitation without giving a full explanation of why. Certainly, share your reasons with people you trust and love, but for others a simple, “No thank you,” is enough.
And one bonus tip: Do what feels right to you. In every moment follow your intuition. Your own inner voice knows what you need, and how and when. Listen to it.
‘ReMoved’ is the award winning short film by Nathanael Matanick. It portrays the emotional effect on a child raised in an abusive, dysfunctional or emotionally neglectful household.
The film is deep and sad..but well worth watching.