November 23, 2009

The Narcissist Seduction: A Special Brand of Magic

Many thanks to all of you who have visited and revisited The Narci Chronicles, and are sharing the site with friends. This is post #4. If you're just now joining, I recommend you start your read from the first post, The Escape: Goodbye My Narcissist.

Before I dive into Narci stuff, I'd like to pass along a great new find for your recipe book. Try this alongside your holiday favorites as either an appetizer, snack, or dessert, and just tell me it's not an instant hit!

Toffee Apple Dip
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 (11 oz) package Heath toffee chips

Beat cream cheese, sugars and vanilla together until fluffy. Stir in toffee chips by hand. Serve with 8 sliced apples, I use Gala.

Now then, since my last post: I've been thinking about the novel, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. It's been a recent favorite among my family and friends... and for me, it struck a very specific chord.

Lay aside the endearing characters, the compelling plot and unique stylization, The Book Thief is the story of an entire nation besieged and beguiled by a narcissist. This perspective might differ slightly from your typical book club synopsis, but for purposes of this blog, I ask that you consider it. Consider a people so smitten with the charm, the eloquence, and the feigned altruism of their Narci leader that they would not only applaud his misguided rhetoric, abandon themselves to his perverse vision, risk their lives at the feet of his evil intent, but simultaneously engage in, or become audience to, the genocide of their neighbors and one-time friends.

Granted, this is an extreme example, but it does illustrate the power of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, and whether it's a nation or one woman, the emotional grip is truly bewildering.

How can I explain it?

It starts like this:

You meet a man who exudes an exciting and alluring persona. He's charismatic, eloquent, talented, accomplished within his chosen field, with a tale to tell that may boast a rags-to-riches, against-all-odds type of excellence. He will also be perpetually right, extremely egotistical, easily offended, and quick to anger. But, that part comes later. For now, his eyes don't leave you. His level of interest in you knows no limit. He hangs on your every word. Narcis are quite adept at initially making the relationship all about you, before it becomes all about them.

Eventually, this man humbly opens up about his own life. He may even be sarcastically self-deprecating. It would not be uncommon to find a history of childhood abandonment, abuse, or neglect. As he shares his story, you will feel it a special trust and privilege to be his confidante. Narcis are skilled at endowing their chosen with the sense that they are unique in this way.

It is difficult to be vigilant during the Narci courtship, as you will experience highs you've never known, unbridled romance, gifts, love notes, and a readiness to be of assistance at your every need or desire. You will feel you have found your Prince Charming.

It is the most enchanting and magical seduction, what Linda Martinez-Lew, author of Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist in Your Life, refers to as "a special brand of magic." (See post, The Escape: Goodbye My Narcissist.)

Sandy Hotchkiss, author of Why is it Always About You, the Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism, explains that "the Narcissist engages us via our own narcissistic vulnerabilities." (We've touched on that briefly and will revisit it again.) "The goal is to understand what is happening and interrupt the process to protect ourselves." She continues, "Sometimes, we are drawn to their larger-than life qualities and the special way they make us feel when we are included in their grandiosity and omnipotence in some way. If being part of their lives makes our own seem fuller or more exciting, we may choose to pay the price or deny that there even is one. When this happens, we may end up sacrificing ourselves to an illusion that leaves us ultimately empty and bruised. When you enter the web of the Narcissist, you leave yourself behind," (page 62).

In my last post, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, I asked you to consider the possible Narcis in your life, including yourself. I suggested this exercise in order to make an important distinction, that is: we ALL have narcissistic or self-absorbed tendencies, which certainly defines our humanity, but not necessarily a personality disorder. When I first read the symptoms of NPD and recognized my own character faults in the list, I wondered if I was one, myself. I even consulted an expert, who diagnosed me with depression, but not a personality disorder. Phew!

Yes, we all, to one degree or another, are lovers-of-self. There IS healthy self-love, essential in the ability to be vigilant and defensive in warding off unhealthy self-love. There is also age appropriate narcissism: the toddler and teen years.

We may refer to an individual who displays many of the NPD symptoms as a narcissist, although he (or she) may not have the actual personality disorder. But, the true NPD will distinctly manifest, what Hotchkiss calls, the seven deadly sins of narcissism as follows:

1) Shamelessness
2) Magical Thinking
3) Arrogance
4) Envy
5) Entitlement
6) Exploitation
7) Bad boundaries

We'll look further at all of these in future posts, as well as Sam Vaknin's proposed criteria for NPD, as described in his book, Malignant Self Love.

Now, I absolutely must go play with the most adorable little one year-old grandson on the planet! He's come for the Thanksgiving holiday and brought his mother and father along, which I'm really quite happy about, as well.

Take care!


  1. So insightful, Diana. Love the post on 1st memories. . . made me think and remember. My husband thinks you should become a professional therapist. Keep writing. Look forward to trying a yummy recipe. Love ya!

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