I watch you.
I watch in order to learn. I observe in order to process. I survey so that I can add to my understanding. My steady gaze garners knowledge. My unflinching stare stores information.
I recognise that I have done this both consciously and unconsciously. Unconsciously because I found myself at an intermediate stage of being able to represent that which I did not feel. Consciously because I understood that in order to be the most effective I had to fit in to your world in order to make it my world. I am an expert at The Imitation Game. I understand, for example, when I should present a picture of concern and if and only if, I deem that this is appropriate for me to secure The Prime Aims will I then create this picture. This is what I do. I create a picture. I understand which expression I should adopt, how my brow should furrow, how my gaze should look, how I should set my mouth. I am aware of what I should do with my body, I need to lean in and perhaps place a hand on your shoulder or arm to convey apparent gentleness. If absolutely necessary a hug is provided but that is for emergencies only. My intellect allows me to issue a stream of words which are commensurate with concern, compassion and understanding. I know the words to choose. The words are the easiest part, for me and for most of our kind, save the most base. Still, even the lowest echelon narcissists can muster a few words which give the impression of concern even if you misinterpret it as “He means well, he just isn’t very good at showing it.” Oh how little do you realise your words are so accurate.
I have spent years perfecting and finessing my imitation of you and your kind. I can show you upset, concern, passion, happiness, joy, understanding, elation, puzzled bewilderment and much more besides. I have logged the appropriate facial expressions, appropriate words, fashioned the right tone and inflection and curated the body language. Time after time I have conned you into believing that I care. Repeatedly I have duped you so that you believe that I am concerned. Frequently I have misled you into believing that this is the man who loves, cares and cherishes you and has your every well being at the centre of all he does.
It wasn’t the easiest of beginnings though. Copying restrained interest was easy as the MatriNarc carried that one off to perfection and I observed her as she interacted with others and noted how she behaved in order to copy her. Father served some use in allowing to observe the injection of warmth towards another human being, although finding him often enough to ensure there was suitable material to work with was sometimes challenging. My siblings were more useful in that regard. When I was very young, I used to ask how they did it and they would look at me like I was an alien – it was a look I received numerous times until I began to perfect my craft as I knew more and more how to fit in. My siblings found my curious questions amusing and would laugh at me. That did not sit well with me and would result in me showing them the more advanced aspect of my craft. I could readily conjure up antipathy, resentment, petulance, irritation and hatred with no effort at all. Those characterisations came to me readily, they appeared to be part of me, or at least I think they were part of me for I do not recall a time when those responses were not part of me. For so much else it was akin to reaching for a shelf inside my mind and taking from that shelf a labelled kit which provided me with the relevant facial expression, words, vocal tone, body language, look in the eyes and so forth.
Brother fallen off his bike and the family is watching? Must stifle the laugh and instead reach for that shelf and select “Surprised concern.” Got it, apply it, use it. Excellent, they never noticed.
Joke told by uncle at family gathering resulting in assembled family members laughing merrily. Dismiss the disdain (she will notice and reprimand me, after all Dear Brother Uncle has the most wonderful sense of humour) and instead to the shelf again and find “Hilarious reaction.” There it is, throw the head back, issue the laugh (no, too hollow, try again, that is more like it), rock forward, keep laughing perhaps a hand wave as well. Well done, one of the crowd. For now.
New prey? Drive down the predatory delight, must not let her see the wolf that is bearing down on her. No, to the shelf once more and find the oft used “Eyes for Only Her”. Slip on that mask of infatuation, pour forth the sugar-coated words, hold her hand (must I? I must), soften the voice, lower the voice, intensify the stare but not too much. Marvellous, her reaction tells me it is working.
Over time the selection of those packages from the shelves became faster, subconscious and I could move from one package to another and then another on an almost second by second basis. The slight pause of selection almost undetectable.
Of course, my mastery of this mimicry allowed me to spot our kind in action. They were not as accomplished as me. I saw where the actions sat uneasily with the situation, I heard the empty laugh, witnessed the smile with the unsmiling eyes, I detected the pause as the carousel flicked through the options before settling on the correct package. There were occasions where I witnessed the disconnect where the shelf lay bare for that particular narcissist and he or she offered nothing. That blank response and the confused reactions of those around the narcissist as there was just nothing. I laughed inwardly as those victims got to actually witness a flash of reality, the fact that there is nothing there. The narcissism recovered and found some kind of response, usually one of the standard responses of fury in order to assert control in light of the challenging looks and control threatening questions issued towards the narcissist by the perplexed and bewildered victims. “Well, aren’t you concerned?” they would ask as the blank faced narcissist looked at them. “Not my problem,” he would seethe and march away. His withdrawal being the stamp of one of the assertions of control, necessary because the question from the victim was Challenge Fuel. and had to be dealt with.
I recall a few years ago watching the film Ex Machina. I found it fascinating and wished it had gone further, but that is something for another discussion. In one scene, the creator explained that he had used the software from his devices which were used by many millions of people to capture the speech and expressions of millions upon millions of people in order to formulate the way that Ava (the robot) would understand and speak. I understood that. I had been doing something similar from before I could even recall. For me, I had both a “background application” whirring away in my subconscious as I sucked in the mannerisms, speech patterns, expressions and gesticulations, storing them away, filed and placed ready for use and also the conscious application where I specifically observe certain people, watching and listening as I noted how they responded in certain situations. I took the behaviours of so many people and commandeered them for my own use. Character Trait Acquisition on the grandest of scales.
Most of our kind only absorb this information unconsciously and then regurgitate it in a similar way. Some have gaps in the knowledge, their narcissism evolved only at a level which results in missing responses, mismatched responses or clearly superficial reactions. Think of those irritating robot voices that convert text to speech on YouTube videos and you get the idea of how basic some of our kind attempt to replicate your kind´s responses. Some narcissists are more evolved and make a pretty good fist of such mimicry, although they are not perfect. There is the odd “glitch” where the response comes across as delayed or forced, but rarely do people seriously question it. If they do, the enemy that is emotional thinking, soon causes them to dismiss it with thoughts such as “He has his mind elsewhere” or “I guess he was just tired so he did not react.” Indeed, the narcissist may use such explanations as excuses to deflect from the challenges to control which are issued when the victim queries why the narcissist isn’t offering comfort or sweet words of succour or there is an absence of elation at the provision of good news from the victim and the presence of emotional thinking causes the victim to swallow the excuse, failing to realise that you have just been shown an indicator of what you are really dealing with.
As time went on and I as I stocked up those shelves with more and more packages, the more I came to find them disgusting and contemptible. I found the necessity of such responses from other people weak and pathetic. What on earth did crying solve? That shelf had a gap in my repertoire when it came to tears. That tap was never even turned on properly to begin with. However, if you saw the shelf of a Middle Mid Range Type B Narcissist you would see those packages of “Utterly Distraught”, “Silent Sobbing”, “Great Wracking Heaving Snotty Sobs” , “Funereal Wailing” , “Quiet Whimpering” , “Stifled Misery” all with their complement of waterworks. The very thought of those packages disgusts me. Yet, that weak MMR Type B Narcissist pours forth convincing sadness but it is not genuine although he or she thinks that it is. The narcissism will not allow them to know otherwise for if it did, the self-defence mechanism that is narcissism would have failed in its role. The Lessers and the Mid-Rangers can never know what they are, why they do what they do and what they actually require. I on the other hand, belonging to the rarefied highest echelon of my kind, not only know, but I positively revel in the misleading use of The Imitation Game. It amuses me to put on a display of benevolent concern knowing that I do not have the slightest shred of genuine concern and that the victim is being taken in by this expert display. The fuel pours and the control is maintained as the game is always being played.
As my abilities flexed and grew, as they became honed and sharpened, I learned certain responses and then let them sit, gathering dust on those shelves. I know how to portray a particular response but I am not going to use it. It is beneath one such as I. I know how to give a long, lingering and comforting hug combined with a “There, there, there” but I shall never use it. I quickly understood how I could both fit in and remain set apart. There was no need for me to fully embrace all that sickening fluffy nonsense. Far too Mid-Range. All of this observation and selection of appropriate response then furnished me with another advantage. Not only was I able to imitate suitable responses to manipulate and achieve The Prime Aims but it also meant that I could assert considerable restraint and keep hidden (much of the time) the dark, savage malice that fought to make an appearance through those ink black eyes, snarling mouth, twisted face and low, guttural voice. I exercised the ability (much of the time) to constrain the fury so that the bellowing words of outrage were kept locked within and the glaring, frenzied-wide eyes kept still. I became master of the false creation and governor of restraint. Doubly effective.
The watching never stops. The observation never ceases. The listening never falters. I absorb, both consciously and unconsciously, knowing more and more and more. More shelves are constructed and on them fresh packages land, existing packages are rebooted and updated and some still sit in the darkness waiting to be used although they never will.
Each and every one of our kind plays The Imitation Game. The vast majority do not know they do. The standards of effectiveness vary and you play your part in this game, for it is from you we take the raw ingredients to enable the game to be played.
And for certain of us, for the game to be won.