Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Narcissist's Grandiosity Game

I’ve received about 760 comments on this blog, and in that pile maybe six posters stood out as being personality disordered. Though they all had different writing styles, varying tones, and points of view, their comments all conveyed the same message: I am superior and you are inferior. I made an example of Annoying Anonymous and Cosmic Girl, but there were others. None of these abusive commenters came right out and said, “I am special, and all knowing and powerful. You are my inferior.” Instead they used other strategies and tactics to vaunt themselves.  Take the case of Annoying Anonymous who swooped in like some “enlightened” guru and proceeded to use subtle shaming techniques (among other things) to tell us we’re not good enough. But she of course, was not only good enough; she was special, enlightened and highly evolved as a human being. If only we poor, pathetic ACoNs could catch-up to such a fine example of humanity.  
Here’s another example of a commenter’s grandiosity - different style, same message: I am all knowing and powerful, and above you poor shmucks who are weak, defective and less than worthless.
Kimani said….
“I am really sorry if I came off as insensitive to what all of you've been forced to go thru. Its bad enough that stuff like this is allowed to go on but its absolutely frustrating to see so many of these wrongs go unrighted. I really wish there was something more tangible that I could do myself but I'm limited to just dealing w/ the small little problems in my vicinity. I hate that the world is so full of self-absorbed cowards who actually feel *relieved* instead of outraged when they hear of injustices like the ones you guys were put thru. Its sickening and perverse to me to see good people left feeling broken and dis-empowered while the decrepit little shits that did this to them are allowed to die of old age. I know a lot of the posts sound like a bunch of arrogant pontificating but they're just my clumsy frustrated attempts to light a fire in the bellies of people who've been told from day one that they are weak, defective and less than worthless. My words are the only thing I can give to you =/” 
I never posted the abusive comment from Kimani. In fact, I didn’t respond to it at all. By ignoring the comment, I incited her narcissistic rage. Here is the comment from her that followed:
By Kimani on The Story of Anonymous - 3 at 09:10
After giving it some thought I just realized: Why the hell am I apologizing to you for telling the *TRUTH*?? Your reaction had more to do with defending the sacred cow of your victim-hood (i.e. blanket immunity from all criticism and responsibility) than setting healthy boundaries. Yes, your parents were evil fucks, and yes, you were WRONGED in the worse kind of way but that doesn't give you carte blanche to attack people that you know damn well don't mean you any harm. If you wanna keep convincing yourself that evil scum like your MN-parents are invincible demon gods and continue licking your wounds until they turn septic fine; have at it. I retract my apology and leave you to it.
I’ve posted these comments because devaluing others (even while hiding behind a guise of false concern or flattery) is the way narcissists aggrandize themselves, and grandiosity is the essence of narcissistic abuse: Narcissists puff themselves up by putting you down. They raise themselves by lowering you. They bolster their ego by diminishing your self-worth. Narcissists play the grandiosity game in every interaction.  Of course, the narcissist’s grandiosity is just a game of pretend because they only identify with their image not their true selves. They don’t care about being good; they just want to “appear” good. They are vandals, liars and frauds and they go about glorifying their “image” NOT by developing virtues of their own, but by debasing others.  
This game of one-upmanship happens in every interaction with a narcissist… so beware. Narcissists do not relate to others as equals, they relate to others from a position above. Needless to say, being so high and mighty and being unable to relate to us lowly peons (literal translation: pee on) makes it impossible for them to empathize with us. Because isn’t that what empathy is – relating?

***Kathy Krajco wrote:
"I have known narcissists that would strike you as anything but grandiose, vain, and haughty. They kept their immodesty well hidden behind a cloak of false modesty. You can still detect it though if you're observant, because covert and subtle grandiosity shows in the inappropriate way narcissists relate to others from above as their judge. Presumptuous expectations, however subtley expressed are sugared over with feigned humility. It shows in the narcissist's bragging, however subtle and left handed."  

*** I’ve summarized the following from Kathy Krajco’s “What Makes Narcissists Tick” and “The Teeter Totter Game.” It’s such a good chapter, but too long to post, so I just pulled out key points to summarize. The Teeter Totter Game refers to the narcissist demeaning others as much as possible, because the lower the narcissist brings others, the higher the narcissist brings themself. ***
v  The Rules
The easy way for the narcissist to look good is to look good by comparison. For example:
·         The easy way to look strong is to make those around you look weak.
·         The easy way to look smart is to make those around you look stupid.
·         The easy way to look important is to make those around you look insignificant.
·         The easy way to look honest is to make those around you look dishonest.
·         The easy way to make you look clean is to make those around you look dirty.
·         The easy way to look superior is to make those around you look inferior.
And on and on. This is the Teeter Totter Game. Aggrandize yourself by devaluing someone else.
We all know that this is not reality, but don’t try to make a narcissist understand that. Nothing is absolute in the narcissist’s world = everything is relative, relative to the narcissist – even TRUTH.
So the lower he demeans others, the higher he brings himself. This explains why narcissists usually treat their own immediate family the worst. There are few outside the immediate family whom the narcissist dares to abuse so badly and treat like dirt. So, spouse and children are valuable for this use. They are worth every penny it costs to support them, and raise them, because the narcissist gets the biggest step up on them.
Not everyone playing the Teeter Totter Game is a malignant narcissist. Normal people sometimes play it against people they resent or dislike. Normal people also dish it back to a narcissist, thinking to teach him a lesson or beat him at his own game. But what distinguishes the person with NPD is that, in him, the Teeter Totter Game is like a knee jerk reaction and seems compulsive. Indeed narcissists dish it out like machines, indiscriminately – with a few noteworthy exceptions:
·         They never do it to anyone they risk retribution from.
·         They never do it to anyone they can aggrandize themselves by association (a feared boss, a V.I.P. or anyone with power).
·         They never do it to anyone they’re “courting,” setting-up, conning (a potential mate or business partner or some other host they will parasitize).
Which makes the narcissist’s intent clear: everything he does is all about glorifying his image, period. Whether he raises or lowers a person, he does so for his own aggrandizement.
So, narcissists obviously do know what they’re doing and can control it; they just don’t unless that person might punch them in the nose or they might better exploit a particular person in a positive way. What’s more, the more vulnerable and defenceless the target, the worse the abuse. So, his/her chief targets for abuse are those who would be a normal person’s last targets – his/her own children, spouse, siblings and others near and dear. (Yes, they are near and dear because the narcissist needs punching bags.) Note: the narcissists is behaving like a predator and targeting easy prey, not anyone he/she has any reason for animosity toward.
Bucking this abuse, either through protest or through an appeal to reason or an appeal to the narcissist’s heart, just touches off the typical Narcissistic Rage. Which is essentially an irrational and violent temper tantrum, such as a spoiled brat throws to make you shut up and let him have his way. It’s a fog horn he blows to drown you out, blocking communication, so that you just shut up and submit to Teeter Totter abuse because the only thing more obnoxious is the way he acts when you try to get him to stop.
In interactions with the person he devalues, the narcissist denies many things, like acknowledgement of rights, credit, gratitude, and so forth. But these are just different ways of denying gratification. Often those denied it eventually come right out and ask for what they want from the narcissist. For example:  Did you like the dinner? Do I look nice? I need someone to talk to. This appeal would prompt a normal person to give it up. But it prompts a narcissist to withhold like a child withholds a toy that another child asks for.

v  Physical Abuse/Bullying
One of the first, and least sophisticated, ways a narcissist pretends to be greater than you is by vaunting him or herself on you to degrade by physical abuse. The message is clear: I raise myself by lowering you.
It’s the psychological aspect of the abuse that hurts most, even in this unsophisticated form of physical narcissistic abuse.  The narcissist can’t devalue his/her target enough, because the more the narcissist does, the more he/she is pretending to aggrandize him or herself. So, the narcissist even forces the victim to their knees and rubs their face in excrement to aggrandize him/her as much as humanly possible. Oooh, does that make the narcissist feel grand.
But most narcissists learn more sophisticated, and safer, ways to do the same thing. Subtly, so as to avoid arrest and prosecution.
v  Refuse to Acknowledge Your Presence
Why elevate yourself just a little by devaluing others a little, when you can elevate yourself all the way to God status by devaluing others all the way to zero? All you have to do is make nothing of them. Act like they aren’t there. Unsee, unhear them. Pay no more attention to them than you would a fly on the wall. That’s a powerful way of pretending that they are beneath your notice, which makes you God Almighty. By treating you as just another face in the crowd of “the unwashed masses” the narcissist says, “You aren’t worthy of my notice.” Or “You are so insignificant that I don’t recognize you.” Either way, he’s exalting you at his expense: you are beneath Superman’s notice. (I wrote in a blog post about how my N dad said he didn’t recognize me walking down the street, 15 minutes after leaving his company. To not recognize me, showed me just how insignificant I am.  Just another face in the crowd.)
Note: The narcissist’s withholding is an expression of aggression that we should pay attention to our instincts about.
v  Denigrate Other
A narcissist speaks of others in a way nobody wishes to be spoken of. That is, the narcissist speaks of others in a way that damages their image. Narcissists do this on the premise that making others look bad makes them look good by comparison. Often the detraction is camouflaged in subtlety, left-handed, couched in innuendo and heavily perfumed to smell like innocent humor or “concern.” Concern, especially “Christian concern,” is the really putrid disguise for slander, the one that makes you want to puke. If you ever catch wind of a bunch of people going around expressing Christian concern about one of their members, look out, there’s about to be a crucifixion.  And nine times out of ten there is at least one malignant narcissist orchestrating it.
So for disguise, narcissists often denigrate others by damning with faint praise or betraying with a kiss. Sometimes they come out smelling like a rose by always sprinkling rotten offerings with incense like I don’t want to sound, but… Or I don’t want to look, but… Or I don’t want to seem, but… And then they proceed to BE exactly what they’d just said they didn’t want to sound or look or seem. It makes you want to go off like Hamlet and cry, “Seems, madam! Nay, it IS! I know not seems.”  
Under such phony disguises, the narcissist vandal keeps chipping away at another person’s image till the cumulative effect has so marred it that nobody thinks well of that person. Detraction is just another way of playing the Teeter-Totter Game.
v  Devaluing Help
Because narcissists can’t get enough attention, because they need it all, a narcissist’s middle name is Needy. But being needy is anti-grandiose. So narcissists must delude themselves into thinking they are the opposite, self-sufficient. And they must project infinite neediness off onto others. So, narcissists suck your attention and help, but they never ask for it, and they never accept it when offered. In their world, a work of fiction, they need nothing. Also, they don’t pay their way. That is, they deny what they owe you in return for your attention and help – credit, appreciation. Then these deadbeats view you wanting what they owe you as (of all things) NEEDINESS in you! Narcissists are averse to saying a simple “thank you” because they don’t think others have the right to decent treatment from them. That’s because they gotta have it all, so they fight tooth and nail over every ounce of gratification in a social transaction.

v  Belittling Ability & Achievement
Narcissists must be the greatest, so they can’t let anyone be higher than them on that Teeter-Totter. Are you outstanding for your intelligence? Or have you done something brilliant? One narcissist I know of was sure to show how fair-minded he was by granting that you were “knowledgeable.” For, of course, any idiot can learn enough about something to be knowledgeable. Of course, the main way narcissists devalue work, abilities, and achievement is by total blindness to them. As if that annihilates them. Get wild applause compared to him and he will be totally unaware of that. Though the knife will be in your back the next day. For, by shining you have diminished the glow of the narcissist’s glory.
v  Refusing to Acknowledge Rights
Only special treatment is good enough for the narcissist, but nobody else deserves any consideration at all. Say for example, you are victimized by some powerful person or institution in a way that would outrage any normal friend or loved on. Expect no comfort or support from the narcissist. The narcissist will not acknowledge that you have any rights that were violated. In fact, to rub your face in the zero valuation of you, the narcissist will stay, or get, on good terms with that employer, institution or person.
Thus, he betrays you with a kiss by associating with your wrongful mortal enemy. As if he just doesn’t see what might be wrong with that. Making nothing of crimes against a person makes nothing of that person. If you don’t like this devaluation and ask the narcissist to at least admit you have rights and have been wronged, he will do what narcissists always do whenever you try and pry regard from them: he will make himself the offended party whose rights are being violated and throw a temper tantrum.
Whew! Those are some examples of how the narcissist plays the Teeter Totter game, and I can relate to every last one of them. Narcissists NEED to put us down in every interaction. They NEED to position us beneath them in order to feed their delusions that they are above us.  And we need to be watchful of this type of behaviour so we can catch narcissistic abuse while it is occurring in real-time. Like Kathy K said, normal people also do this, but I believe normal people do it consciously or sometimes by mistake. And if they offend you, they prove they meant no disrespect by stopping and apologizing. Narcissists, on the other hand, truly believe that everyone is their inferior so this way of relating to others is just a knee jerk reaction. And the narcissist doesn’t give a damn if they offend you. They will never respect your wishes to treat you with more dignity. In fact, they will probably make a virtue of their abuse and this proves they are not acting on good-will, no matter how they dress it up. Well, I say to hell with that. The narcissist’s grandiose image is a precarious one, so just step off the Teeter-Totter and watch them come crashing down to the ground!