You spend your time searching. Searching for the one who will fulfil that desire of complete happiness, the one who will be your match, the one who accords with being the soulmate, the one who completes you, the ying to your yang, the one who makes everything alright again. The one who will wipe away those tears of sadness and bring to you the tears of joy and elation. The one who will always be there, come hell or high water. The one who creates that world that you have always craved. The one who chases away the shadows and keeps the wolf from the door. The one who loves you for what you are and does not seek to change you. You search for the one who wants to be with you but will not complain when there is enforced absence. The one who never forgets the important milestones in your lives but never remembers the times when matters do not quite go to plan. The one who will ensure your memories live on in the raising of others. The one who will not turn from you but will lift you up and rely on you also. The one who will take your hand and hold it tight no matter what storms come your way. The one who wakes with you and smiles that special smile. The one who lays their lips against yours as the day ends and night engulfs the land. The one who knows you inside out and cherishes everything you have to offer the world. The one who understands you and wants to understand you. The one who embraces your flaws and imperfections and does not use them against you. The one who looks into your eyes and desires what they see there. The one who will not judge you, will not hold your errors against you but who will hold you as the world may collapse around you and the one who will say your name with their dying breath.
You spend your time searching for a sign. An indicator that will give you the answers. Something on which you can hang hope, that imposter, in order to solve the mystery that you are now faced with. Something that will enable you to unravel the puzzle that has emerged every day and has your mind twisted, thoughts stretched and contorted. You are searching for the truth, your slavish devotion to such a concept is honourable indeed and you must find that truth and hold it high for all to see. You must locate it and raise it up above to ensure that everybody knows of it. You must find the solution, you must identify the panacea that shall cure all these ills, for you are a fixer, a solver, a healer. You search and search for explanation, enlightenment and elucidation. You are hunting high and low for the reason to something which seems unfathomable. Your search will lead you into dead ends, frustrating cul-de-sacs and along treacherous and perilous routes where your bewilderment is only heightened. Your search for clarity amongst the confusion appears to be never-ending. You may be blessed with an indefatigable spirit which enables you to carry way beyond the endurance of others as this search continues. There are clues, but they dance away from you like an elusive will o the wisp, leaving you blundering after it, as you are led further into the quagmire of disturbing befuddlement.
You search for the antidote to the pain that engulfs you each and every day. Some salve to soothe your fevered brow, a medicine that will numb the pain and bring the cure. You search for an end to the hurt. An end to the misery that sweeps about you, its chains heavy and rusting, making you stoop and cutting you to the core. Dragging you down with its hatred, the horror and the malevolence so you fall to your knees. You crawl across the barren land, hands pricked from the thorns that grow across your path as wearied and beaten down you drive yourself on searching for a way out. You sob with frustration as your draining journey reveals that you have gone around in a circle and you stare with disbelieving eyes at your own handprints in the dust, realisation crashing into you that your endeavours have all been for naught. You search for the Holy Grail that will grant you release from this torture, the answer to every question which gnaws at your terrified mind, the oil that will calm the troubled waters allowing your passage across the emotional sea to become easier allowing you to reach the promised land. You search for the key which will unlock the huge gate that looms over you, the opening of the portal that will enable you to escape this horror which surrounds you and has become woven into the tapestry of your every day. You search and search, fooled by the charlatans that offer respite only to whisk it away at the last moment, wrenching it from your grasp. You search and search for a way out of the nightmare, idiots and clowns suggesting they have the route mapped out for you, but they know little or nothing, well-intentioned or otherwise they are not the ones who will be able to end your search. You search and search for the final destination that will finally grant you release. There are options which may bring this horror show to an end, the dropping of the final curtain but whilst you contemplate that, deep within you there is that will to overcome what torments you and to avoid failing and seeking that alternative exit. That way is not for you. You must conclude your search. You must achieve it and as that truth seeker your search continues. You wish to reach the end and it is an end which gives you the absolute truth, the clearest of answers which thus enables you to seize the power to create that which serves your needs once again. The answers that will sweep aside the darkness and enable you to step into the light once more, a champion of perseverance and a titan of determination.
“You’ve done what? I cannot believe it. What on earth possessed you to do that? Are you mad? Are you completely unhinged woman? Sweet Jesus I don’t believe what you just said to me. How many times have we been over this before? Countless times. Hell, I said it only yesterday didn’t I? I cannot believe you would be so stupid as to do something like this, it just beggars belief. You know I am starting to think that you do this on purpose don’t you? It’s no good shaking your head and staring at me like that, do you think I will feel sorry for you if you give me those eyes? Do you? I said DO YOU? Yes, you may as well shake your head again, it’s about as much as someone of your idiocy can do. I swear I am living with an epsilon semi-moron, have you always been this fucking dumb? I guess you have. It was such a simple thing to do, straight forward, a child could do it, but no not you, you had to go and be clever and go and royally fuck it up. You absolute idiot. You have ruined everything now; you do realise that don’t you? I mean it is completely ruined and how about that for a fantastic start eh? Yes, I am being sarcastic, I suppose I have to explain that to someone as brain dead as you. Jesus, why on earth have I been saddled with you. Don’t you fucking dare speak when I am speaking, you’ve done enough damage as it is, you will shut the fuck up and listen to me when I am setting you straight. I have pointed out to you so many bloody times what you should do and you assured me, you stood there and assured me that you knew what you were doing. That was a lie. I SAID SHUT UP AND DON’T INTERRUPT ME! I swear you want me to hit you don’t you? That’s what you are trying to do. Oh I know you alright, you think you are so damn clever but I have you worked out. I know what you are up to. That’s right, wind me up, get it wrong, disappoint and frustrate me and then you want me to explode and land myself in some hot water. Well it isn’t going to work with me. I am not stupid. I am not you, you know. I know what I am doing. I am the one that keep this place together, you would do well to remember that when you are busy ruining everything with your mind-blowing and monumental incompetence. It is breath taking. It truly is. I told you what to do. I told you once, I told you a hundred times and you said to me and I can specifically remember what you said, you said ‘don’t worry, I can be trusted to get it right’. Yes, that is what you said. It is no point looking like that, don’t pull that face with me, don’t you fucking dare, I am sick of you not showing me enough respect around here. I work my backside off to keep things afloat, not that you give me any credit for it though. Oh no, you are too busy taking the piss, fucking things up and spoiling it for everyone and especially for me. I don’t know what I am going to do now. I mean, you’ve just, I, I am almost lost for words. You see, not only have you cocked it right up but you have lied to me as well. I don’t know which is worse, but that’s you all over isn’t it. The liar, the deceiver, you flatter to deceive. Don’t think I don’t know what you get up to. I have my eye on you, yes, you would do well to look worried, I know all about you. What are you looking over there for? Look at me when I am talking to you. Look. At. Me. Oh here we go, the waterworks. If you have messed up and you are being corrected start crying and it will be all okay again. Well it won’t will it? It won’t be okay after what you have done. It won’t be fine. It won’t be good or great or fine and dandy. You have messed it up. I knew this would happen. I knew I shouldn’t have left it to you, but do you know what, I thought to myself, no, give her a chance, let her prove she can do it, let he demonstrate that she can be trusted to get it right, I mean, after all, that is what a relationship is all about isn’t it? Trust. Without trust there is nothing. Do you see what you have done? Do you? Do you really understand the impact of what you have done? Somehow I doubt it, that is why I am having to do this. Do you think I like shouting at you? What’s that? Were you going to nod then? Why you ungrateful and nasty bitch, you have some cheek to accuse me of enjoying this when I am the one who has to put up with the consequence of your outrageous incompetence. I am the one who is put out. I am the one who has to suffer. You will just walk away muttering about having understood, how you have learned your lesson and you won’t do it again but I may as well be speaking in Mandarin for all of the notice that you take. I told you to stop crying. If you don’t stop crying, I am going to seriously lose it with you. Christ, what am I going to do? You’ve messed it up and ruined it for me. You don’t care, you don’t. If you did care you wouldn’t keep doing this would you. You wouldn’t keep making these mistakes and winding me up. You are trying to send me to an early grave aren’t you so you can have all this to yourself aren’t you? Got some fancy man on the side have we? I bet that’s what this is all about isn’t it? Ruin me through your incompetence and then waltz off into the sunset with some Johnny Come Lately after I croak it, sent to an early grave by your scheming. You’d love that wouldn’t you, to see me off. You nasty cow, no wonder nobody likes you, no wonder nobody asks you out. Oh yes, we never get invited anywhere these days because of you and your behaviour and is it any wonder. You are a walking disaster area. I mean people put up with you, they did it for my sake, I have good friends like that, or should I say I had good friends like that but thanks to you they are disappearing like rats on a sinking ship. You won’t be happy will you until you have completely ruined everything for me will you. That’s what you want. You want me on my knees, gasping for breath, miserable and wretched as you cavort and carry on with some other mug that you have seduced and promised the world to. I can’t believe I fell for it, but then I guess you keep the real you hidden don’t you, tucked away until you have your feet under the table, your name on the deeds and the joint Amex account. Well you are not that clever because you won’t beat me. I am cleverer than you. I am going to make you pay for what you have done. I am the one who is in charge here, this is my house and you do what I say. I am going to unleash hell against you after this catastrophe, it is an outrage, a complete outrage. I pity our neighbours having to put up with this, but you make me do it, it is all about you. I am not fooled by the frightened looks and the tears, other people might be taken in by it, but I am not. I know it is all for show. You disgust me, you scheming, manipulative, hateful cow. I curse the day I met you. Now look, you’ve made me late, thanks a bunch, that’s all I need. I’m going and don’t think I’ve finished; this is far from over.”
“I thought you would prefer raspberry jam to marmalade,” you say softly to nobody in particular.
Whilst many people experience our kind in the context of the romantic relationship, there are also many people whose experience of the narcissistic dynamic arises from their relationship with a parent. Naturally, nobody recognises at first blush that they have a narcissistic parent. When somebody is a child, they have nothing to benchmark it against and invariably it is usually the case that enlightenment only arises once the child has become an adult.
Sometimes it takes that person to become entangled with a narcissist in a romantic relationship before they are awakened to the fact that they have so been entangled. As part of their enlightenment as to the fact that one of our kind ensnared them through the auspices of a romantic relationship, the individual then also realises that one (or possibly both) of their parents is a narcissist. It takes the coupling with a narcissist in a romantic sense to bring about that realisation. For others, it is the comparison between their relationship with that parent and how they see the relationship of their friends with their parents, or the relationship between their significant other (who is not a narcissist) and his or her parents, to cause them to question the behaviour of their parent which eventually takes them along the path to discovery.
For my own part, it was not until I was shown by an ex-girlfriend what I was, that I realised that MatriNarc was also of our brethren. It was an unusual moment. On the one hand I now had a label to apply to myself, courtesy of the non-judgemental observations of that informed girlfriend. I was pleased with this label as it enabled me to understand more about what I was, although it was not something I planned on sharing. Yet, as I understood how my behaviours fitted with the model of behaviour to which she had directed me, I also realised that my mother was similar and thus also was one of us. A different type of narcissist, but one nevertheless. Such a revelation admittedly stunned me but I soon buried such thoughts as they served no purpose. There was no point dwelling on what had occurred in the past, that was redundant and only going to take me to a place that I had long since escaped. Instead, I focused on my new understanding and how I should now apply this knowledge to my advantage. Thus, that is what I did as I began my journey post university, entering the world of work (aside from summer jobs and the like) and continuing to ensnare unwitting victims romantically, socially and even through the merest of interactions.
Through this time I sought to exercise my independence from MatriNaric who of course sought to exert it as often as she could. I attended university, like many, away from the place where I grew up and therefore this represented the first weakening of the control that MatriNarc had exerted over me. Of course, those elongated holidays meant a return to the mother ship and her continuing machinations and it was only when I commenced my first position on the career ladder of my chosen profession and with that came the necessity of being based in a city, that I truly started to pull away from her grip.
As you would expect, she would not allow that grip to be relinquished with ease and so it is with all parental narcissists. Just like the viewpoint of the romantic relationship narcissist, the parental narcissist considers that you, his or her child belongs to him or her until death. Indeed, whilst those in a romantic liaison with us may sever the Formal Relationship this is far less likely where the dynamic is between parent and adult child. The adult child feels a sense of obligation borne out of the familial tie. How often have you said,
“She is my mother, I can’t NOT invite her to the christening.”
“I know she can be a pain, but she is my mother after all.”
“He is bound to cause a scene but he is my father and well, it would just feel wrong if he was not there.”
“It will cause too many questions if my dad doesn’t attend.”
Such is the sense of obligation which is imbued by the familial link. The narcissist knows of this sense of obligation and moreover relies on it. That is why there is no seduction between narcissistic parent and child (leaving aside those arrangements where incest arises, which is not the purpose of this article) because the existing familial connection supplants the need for seduction. The victim is already tied to the narcissist through blood and you are never allowed to forget that fact.
This tight binding of victim to narcissist does not end there. The existence of the other parent (usually not a narcissist) also causes the victim to remain exposed and bound to the narcissistic parent. Perhaps some of these comments will be familiar to you?
“I put up with my dad for my mum’s sake.”
“I feel sorry for my dad having to deal with my mum.”
“I only see my dad because I love my mum and want to spend time with her.”
“I do it for my children so they see their grandfather, otherwise I would not bother with my mum.”
Unlike the romantic coupling where, once you realise that this person is an abuser (if you have not worked out that they are one of us) you may well escape and aside from the usual concerns and vulnerabilities which come with the empathic victim in such an instance, you make good that escape, the familial ensnarement brings with it a collateral consequence; the other parent. Whilst you may consider quite readily abandoning the narcissistic parent, once you have become alive to what he or she is and how this will not change, your planned escape is hampered by the consequential impact on the other parent who is not a narcissist. Like the dedicated platoon which ‘leaves no man behind’, you are also kept in the grip of the narcissistic parent because of your obligations towards your other parent who is not one of our kind. Once again, do not underestimate the narcissist’s knowledge of this sense of obligation. They will be unlikely to realise that they are a narcissist, but they know how to exploit your relationship with the other parent to their advantage.
Whilst devaluation is a frequent occurrence within the dynamic between the parent narcissist and the adult child, discard is fairly rare. The dynamic between parent and child falls into one of three categories:-
The adult child is an intimate partner primary source – rare;
The adult child is a non-intimate partner primary source – unusual; or
The adult child is a non-intimate secondary source – common
With most interactions falling into the third category, the adult child will be relied upon as an intermittent, but frequent provider of fuel. The narcissistic parent will also look to gather traits (for instance living through the success of the adult child) and utilise residual benefits (especially as the narcissistic parent ages).
In a non-familial dynamic, the narcissist tends to interact largely with the secondary source victim in benign ways to gain positive fuel, for instance:-
A secondary source who is a friend will be invited to social events and spend time with the narcissist;
A secondary source who is a colleague will also be invited to social events, but will be relied on by virtue of the existing obligation which arises out of the work dynamic;
A secondary source who is also an intimate source will be picked up to use for social events, intimacy, spending time together. For instance, a person the narcissist is having an affair with, a friend with benefits or a dirty little secret.
In those instances the narcissist offers a benign hoover
“Do you fancy going to the pub tonight?”
“I can meet you at the hotel at 3pm this afternoon.”
“I have tickets for that new play, I hope you want to come.”
“I have not seen you in ages, how about lunch?”
“Can we get our heads together to discuss the new project?”
And consequently the victim will almost always respond to this hoover, interact with the narcissist and provide the positive fuel. The narcissist will have a range of secondary sources so the reliance on one particular secondary source is intermittent. This means the positive fuel remains fresh for far, far longer and therefore the golden period can continue for a long time.
With the situation where the narcissist interacts with a familial secondary source, the victim may well be a golden child or a scapegoat. In either instance, the parental narcissist considers there to be an obligation borne out of the familial tie so that the secondary source should not actually need to be hoovered. Since the range of familial secondary sources will be far fewer than secondary sources as a whole, the familial secondary source is EXPECTED to make themselves available for fuel provision et al. Whilst they may no longer live with the parental narcissist this does not matter. The adult child who is a secondary source should attend without prompting to provide fuel to the parental narcissist. For instance, it is expected they will come over for Sunday lunch each week or visit at least once a month for the weekend if they live a distance away. There ought to be weekly, perhaps daily telephone calls/skype/facetime. They expect to be messaged first to be asked how they are, whether they need anything and so forth. If these expected routine events where fuel is provided are not adhered to, then the parental narcissist will deploy a hoover to bring about the interaction and of course the required reaction which provides fuel.
The parental hoover may be benign in nature (which is usually used for the golden child) but also malign. The latter type of hoovers vary to the degree by which malignancy is used. Some may be mild, intending to prick the conscience of the recipient adult child and others especially savage in order to provoke an outraged or alarmed response. The malign parental hoover has one key ingredient ; it invariably causes the child to have to parent the parent. This of course should come as no surprise to the seasoned scholars of the narcissistic dynamic. The parental narcissist remains the vulnerable child which manifests when fuel levels begin to dip and thus the hoover deployed to the adult child is designed to trigger that long-held obligation of the adult child to parent their parent, something they have done for as long as they might care to remember.
It is often the case that a parental narcissist will have given rise to the creation of a child narcissist which in the fullness of time becomes an adult child narcissist. This individual does not escape the demands of the parental narcissist. They still have fuel to provide and most parental narcissists do not know what they are and therefore do not recognise themselves in the adult child narcissist, thus the interaction will continue, often with explosive consequences.
Thus, the parental hoover is a frequently used manipulation which is deployed by the parental narcissist for the purposes of exerting control over the adult child and for the gathering of precious fuel. What do these hoovers look like? There are many of them and here are just a number of examples.
Benign Parental Hoovers
Holding a celebration for the achievements of the golden child;
Wanting the golden child to show what they have done or explain their latest promotion, show their painting etc to both the parents and third parties who have been summoned;
An impromptu BBQ because it is a ‘lovely summer’s day’;
To celebrate the birthday of the golden child;
Wanting to share good news with the golden child;
Seeking the advice of the golden child if they are a specialist in some area – for instance investment advice;
Wanting to effect an introduction to or for the golden child which places the parental narcissist in a good light for being the deal maker;
Identifying a problem and wondering if the golden child might possibly have the time to resolve it for them;
Identifying (or fabricating) a family problem involving triangulation with another relative (usually the scapegoat) and seeking the good office of the golden child to resolve the issue;
Having some spare tickets (which are not spare at all but purposefully bought) which they would like to offer the golden child;
Suggesting a holiday with the golden child
Noting the adult child (“AC”) has not visited and asking when this might happen;
Triangulating the AC with the golden child pointing out how the golden child has visited more often;
Feigning a crisis – the ceiling is leaking, the oven does not work, the neighbours are too noisy and something must be done immediately
Bemoaning the fact nobody comes to see them;
Highlighting how unwell they are;
Pointing out financial difficulties
Disapproving of the AC’s friends, romantic partner
Claiming they never get to see their grandchildren;
Complaining they are only ever used as a child minder for their grandchildren;
Berating the AC for some imagined vice – drugs, drink, gambling etc based on the flimsiest of evidence but declaring that “I only have your best interests at heart”
Turning up unannounced and uninvited for the weekend;
Declaring how lonely they are and how “your father never listens”
Moaning about never being able to go anywhere;
Pretending to not understand what a letter means and asking for them to come and help;
Deliberately sabotaging something and using it as a pretext for requiring immediate help and assistance;
Threatening to remove the AC from their will unless they make more of an effort;
Calling early on Christmas Day or their birthday to demand why the AC has not contacted them to wish them Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday;
Frequently referring to the death of people they know and commenting how they won’t be long for this world and then “you will be free of me which is what you want really”.
Throwing in the face of the AC everything they have ever done for the AC from his or her childhood “I wiped your bottom” even though they actually did the bare minimum of parenting;
Utilising frequent sarcasm “I was just calling to let you know I am still alive because after all you have never bothered to call me in three days.”
The adult child is not allowed to lead their own life, to expect the ongoing support of their parent but instead be on call whenever these hoovers are deployed and to respond straight away so that fuel is provided without question or delay.
The Lesser Narcissist. Whether it is the out and out loser that is the Lower Lesser, the usually useless Middle Lesser or the successful but overbearing bully that is the Upper Lesser, the three have certain common traits. One of these traits is their delusional state. The Lesser exists in a bubble convinced of his or her good looks or innate strength or irresistible sexiness. They think everybody likes them, they think if you don’t then you must be an idiot and you are not worth bothering with. They believe themselves to be great at sport, or writing, or whatever hobby and if they do not win or receive an accolade well the game was fixed, the paint was the wrong sort or the judges are retarded. After all, anybody who cannot see that the Lesser is a swaggering champion, well, they must need their head seeing to, right?
The Lesser cruises through life doing what he or she wants, taking whatever they want, behaving as they please and nobody is allowed to stop or interfere with this god-given right. They are completely oblivious to their shortcomings – that bloated beer belly just shows a certain joie de vivre, going bald is a sign of virility, wearing that same jacket is a mark of classic attire. Their narcissism enables them to maintain their perceived superiority (where often none exists) through the application of this delusion. They just do not see their failings, their inadequacies and failures. The self-defence mechanism of the Twin Lines of Defence will either deny any such failing or deflect it away by ascribing it to being the fault of someone or something else. Thus, the Lesser escapes culpability, maintains superiority, gathers fuel and barrels through his or her life wreaking havoc all around and never suffering consequences.
Now, the fuel crisis will cause the bubble to burst, but this article is not about the effect of the fuel crisis but rather the reality gap. When fuelled, the Lesser suffers no reality gap whatsoever. He or she is oblivious and served totally by the delusions of their narcissistic perspective because that is what enables them to exist and function.
What then of the Greater? There is no doubting that the Greater can point to substance to support those bold pronouncements. Look at the money, the high status career, the successful public life, the adoring crowds, the power that is wielded, the records made, the books sold, the art created, the countries invaded, the factories opened, the gadgets invented and the elections won. From captain of industry, Olympic champion, pop star, politician, royal, leader, spin doctor, fixer, striving executive, acclaimed actor, feted artists through to hundreds of other positions and roles, the Greater populates the higher echelons of achievement. His or her narcissism has enabled such an ascent. With no sense of remorse, no conscience, the desire to be the best, a total belief in one’s ability, a sense of entitlement and operating with absolute expediency it is little wonder that the Greater narcissists clamber into these positions.
Is there delusion with the Greater? Indeed and it manifests in the form of embellishment and exaggeration because the innate paranoia of the narcissist means that it is never enough. He may be popular but he sees that he is immensely popular because the narcissism demands it. The narcissism enabled him to scale the heights of political power to begin with and then feeds the need to stay there and want more and more and more because non sufficit orbit terrarum.
Thus the Greater will have considerable power but sees its reach as being even further. He has wealth but embellishes its degree. The narcissistic perspective insists on there being a reality greater than there is. It is even better than the real thing. The combination of that which has been achieved and the belief in added achievement results in the application of power on a tremendous scale, which in turns feeds the narcissism. Round and round it goes. There may be a reality gap, but similar to the Lesser, it is not apparent to the Greater save when the effects of a fuel crisis manifest.
What of the Mid-Range Narcissist? He or she can also achieve. Not on the scale of the Greater but beyond the Lesser. The Mid Range Narcissist, particular Middle Mid Range and Upper Mid Range will secure success, good jobs, excellent incomes, academic achievements, sporting achievements and so forth. Many friends, well-liked by family and the community (that good old facade at work there) and convinced of their own innate goodness.
However one of the fundamental differences between the Lesser and Greater Narcissists compared to the Mid Ranger is the basis on which the application the reality gap operates. The Lesser’s superiority is based on aggressive provocation, albeit in a rudimentary and base manner. The Greater’s superiority is also based on aggressive provocation but in a far more streamlined, refined and magnificent manner. The Mid-Ranger’s perceived superiority has its foundation placed on passive provocation – the silent treatments, the jealous smearing, the office politicking, the pity plays and so forth.
The consequence of this is that this passive, defensive superiority, as opposed to the driving, thrusting aggressive superiority of the other two schools, results in the Mid Range Narcissist suffering periodic reality gaps. He of course will have them and in a massive way as a consequence of a fuel crisis but as stated above, that is not the subject of this article.
The Mid Range Narcissist is afflicted by episodic instances of a detachment between his narcissistic perspective and reality. This is part of his narcissism because this is what enables him or her to operate in a passive aggressive manner through seeking sympathy, exhibiting jealousy, inviting pity and demanding help and support. The Mid Range Narcissists will occasionally get a glimpse of what he is as opposed to what he wants to be. He suddenly sees he is the middle manager salary man and not on the fast track to the board. Whereas the Lesser sees he is holding a semi-skilled position on the factory floor he either sees that as what is best for him and he wouldn’t want to be a “white collar wanker” or he believes he has never made it to management because the existing managers are cocksuckers who are clueless and have no idea how to run a company. The Greater is either at the board already or on his way. The Mid Range Narcissist once believing he was destined for that executive position suddenly realises he is not. He once believed he brought influence to bear beyond his current status because he was talented and just ripe for promotion, he is suddenly aware that this is not the case. The football career was not as glittering as he wanted it to be. She is not as popular as she wants to be. She isn’t able to win the races as she desires to.
The shortfall between what the Mid Range wants to be and believes him or herself to be and what they actually are manifests and delivers a crushing blow to the Mid Range. It can come out of nowhere, a sudden fountain of self-loathing which surges up unexpected and unwelcome. The Mid Range Narcissist immediately seeks to escape this reality gap by complaining, raging, sulking or smearing. Their jealousy of those who are what the Mid Range wants to be is unfettered. Their dejection at their position requires immediate succour from those around them, to flow with pity and sympathy until the moment has passed and with it the danger to their existence.
Accordingly, should you ever witness a Mid Range Narcissist exhibiting some kind of panic attack, a wailing and bemoaning of his or her lot in life even though there is no fuel crisis evident, then you have witnessed the appearance of the Mid Range narcissist’s reality gap.
Ordinarily, this would not be an issue, but Spacey has made it so through an obvious piece of narcissistic manipulation. Many have seen the manipulation, fewer realise what actually lies behind the manipulation. It does however provide a stark example of the behaviour of the narcissist because it exemplifies The Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence .
Anthony Rapp, an actor, has accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him back in 1986. Rapp was 14 years old and Spacey was 26 years old. This was Spacey’s response and in just two paragraphs it is laden with indicators of his narcissism :-
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.
“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fuelled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.
In these two paragraphs you have the encapsulation of the Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence. First of all deny – “I honestly do not remember the encounter.”
Second, deploy a further manipulation, in this instance it is the common narcissistic tactic of deflection. Spacey reveals that he is a gay man (not really a surprise) but this apparent revelation is made to deflect from the act he is accused of and to deflect from the fact the act is a serious sexual crime against a child.
It also embodies something which is often used as an object of ridicule concerning narcissists in terms of “Enough about you, let’s talk about me.” Spacey has demonstrated that his apparent concern for Rapp and for his own behaviour towards Rapp is tissue thin and manufactured. There is no concern. His statement demonstrates that he is more concerned about the issue surrounding him – his sexuality. He wishes to deflect from Rapp and make it all about him.
It also shows a common element in certain schools of narcissist, namely false contrition. There are apologies offered and the word ‘sorry’ is used but whilst Spacey recognises the need to create the appearance of contrition, it is not genuine because his second paragraph completely undermines and erodes the essence of the supposed apology.
So, what narcissistic traits are evident in this statement?
Entitlement – I am entitled to use this as a platform to make it about me
Lack of accountability – I deny it happened and if it did then I am not accountable because of who I am
Lack of empathy – no consideration in the sexual assault for Rapp, no consideration for Rapp in the manner of this statement, no consideration for other victims of sexual assaults, no consideration for those who are homosexual since he has linked homosexuality with child abuse, something a number of commentators have highlighted.
The Twin Lines of Narcissistic Defence – as explained above
Zachary Quinto saw straight through the deflection as he commented
“Not by standing up as a point of pride – in the light of all his many awards and accomplishments thus inspiring tens of thousands of struggling LGBTQ kids around the world – but as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempt to molest one.‘
1. Other victims coming forth with allegations; and
2. The observation that people knew about Spacey’s behaviour and had done so for a long time.
Former US news anchor Heather Unruh made reference to Spacey assaulting a loved one. A lady named Nadine West claimed that a friend of hers was groped by Spacey when he was working at the Old Vic referring to Spacey as one who was known as ‘one to always avoid’. Daniel Beal, who was 19 years old and working as a barman in the United Kingdom claims Spacey flashed him and commented ‘it is big isn’t it?’ and when Beal did not accept his advances Spacey offered him a £ 5000 watch to keep quiet. Beal explained that when he was serving Spacey he kept touching Beal’s hand in a ‘weird way’ , that Spacey asked him if he smoked weed and said that he (Spacey) had loads in his room at the hotel and invited Beal to go to his room. The remarks around weed and a creepy man hitting on somebody young and vulnerable might make an interesting part of a film, say, American Beauty anybody?
These three allegations, if correct, support showing that Spacey is a narcissist. He shows again entitlement, no boundary recognition, no empathy, no sense of accountability and grandiosity – “Look, here’s an expensive watch, take it and keep it but stay quiet.” It also evidences the narcissist’s need to for fuel through the reactions of the victims and the maintenance of the power dynamic in favour of the narcissist. When Mr Beal rejected Spacey’s overtures this will have wounded Spacey, but he did not erupt with heated fury or flounce away with a silent treatment, instead he asserted his need to maintain superiority through bribery and charm.
Back in 2010, Spacey stated during an interview :-
‘I think what we have seen in terms of gay teenagers committing suicide because of bullying is anguishing. I think young people, if they are feeling like they are confused, need to know that there are people to talk to and that there are places they can go and not feel alone,’ said Spacey.
‘But I feel that they have just as many rights as I do to not be bullied. And I don’t understand people who say, “Well, this is a terrible thing that is happening to this young person whose life is being exposed,” and then turn around and do it to another person. People have different reasons for the way they live their lives. You cannot put everyone’s reasons in the same box.’
‘It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will.’
This statement which can now be seen against a backdrop of allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour reinforces the narcissistic personality at work here. There is the cognitive empathy on display by talking about the situation of another, the maintenance of the facade in terms of being seen to care about others and the victim mentality of the narcissist “I feel they have just as many right as I do to not be bullied”. Furthermore, it evidences the hypocrisy and compartmentalisation which our kind engage in. Spacey has bullied people, often those in a ‘weaker’ position to him as a huge Hollywood star, yet notably does he ignore this behaviour he states it is a line he has never crossed and never will. This might be evidence of his lack of awareness as to what he is, that he truly sees nothing wrong in what he has done and therefore his self-defending narcissism automatically rejects any notion of accountability, or that he knows what he has done but he does not care and sees a convenient opportunity to tell a known lie because it serves him well to do so.
A further accuser, Tony Montana, a documentary filmmaker, says that Spacey groped him in the Coronet Pub in Los Angeles in 2003. He says he was in the bar working when Spacey showed up with a number of his friends.
‘I went up to order a drink and Kevin came up to me and put his arm around me,’
‘He was telling me to come with him, to leave the bar. He put his hand on my crotch forcefully and grabbed my whole package.’
Montana alleges that a drunk Spacey told him: ‘This designates ownership.’
Once again this behaviour evidences no boundary recognition, a sense of entitlement and a lack of accountability with no empathy for the person he is groping. His own words also evidence his view of Mr Montana belonging to him. We regard people as objects, as our possessions and therefore this comment by Spacey, if correct, underpins Spacey’s view as a narcissist. Clearly, since he was apparently drunk, his thought emerged as the spoken word.
A further individual speaking under the alias ‘John’ alleges that when he was 16 years old he was working with Spacey at a summer theatre. in the 1980s. He explained that Spacey was apparently ‘sobbing’ from his bed, which John recognised as a manipulation to try to get John to join him in bed by doling out a Pity Play, a well-known narcissistic manipulation. John did not join Space but then awoke to find Spacey draped around him, his head on his torso and his arms wrapped affectionately around him. Once again there is the failure to recognise the boundary and the sense of entitlement.
It does not end there. There have been in the past allegations. A show business website ran e-mails from those who alleged that Spacey had targeted them, all of them were young men.
Further allegations include a man who recounted being at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003 and explained ‘I felt a hand on my bum at the Martini bar’. The hand belonged to Spacey, he said, who invited him to a ‘swanky’ industry party. A source from New York said a friend texted him from a bar to say: ‘Kevin Spacey is here and he has his hand on my thigh.’
Another New Yorker recalled a friend telling him how Spacey chatted him up in a bar, ‘rubbing his knee before inviting him to a party. An ex-waiter at a smart Chicago restaurant said a male colleague was once invited by Spacey back to his hotel suite for a party that rapidly evaporated when the star asked everyone else to leave. Aware of the actor’s intentions, the waiter ‘thanked him for the nice evening and left’.
In another alleged incident, Spacey was at Harvard University for a function in the late 1990s and later propositioned a gay male undergraduate in a bar.
A repeated pattern of targeting individuals using his status and position of power to procure a sexual engagement with these individuals. Of course, as you know, what was really behind this was a narcissist identifying victims from whom he would gain fuel as a consequence of their responses.
As you would expect, a narcissist of Spacey’s calibre engages in careful facade management such as praising Venezuela’s former socialist leader Hugo Chavez, being on the streets of Belarus to support the democracy movement and has set up a charitable foundation to enable young actors to break into show business. All these acts are manufactured to portray an apparently caring and compassionate individual. However, this is clearly a facade since such an individual would not engage in the other behaviours which have been brought to light by not just one individual but several and it would not be a surprise to find further incidents coming to light in the days ahead.
The key traits of the behaviour of a narcissist are evident in the incidents which are being brought to light and which culminated in the revealing statement that Spacey issued regarding Mr Rapp.
Spacey has been lauded for his portrayal of many memorable screen characters such as Keyser Soze, Frank Underwood, Dave Harken (from Horrible Bosses) and Lex Luthor. If you know those characters you will recognise a common thread to them all. Perhaps after all Spacey has fallen prey to that criticism certain actors receive that they are just playing themselves. Perhaps Spacey has been playing himself but was using the part to deflect from what he really is as part of that narcissistic armoury.