Author Topic: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist  (Read 75138 times)

Certain Hope

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The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« on: February 10, 2008, 01:11:11 PM »
In contrast to the Arrogant/Overt Narcissist, 
the Shy/Covert  Narcissist

is characterized by vulnerability and sensitivity which manifests itself in defensiveness and hostility. 

Like the Arrogant/Overt Narcissist, the Shy/Covert Narcissist

 has grandiose fantasies,

feels a sense of entitlement,

and is exploitive.
 

However, the Shy/Covert Narcissistic personality is characterized by worry,
ineffective functioning,
unfulfilled expectations,
and vulnerability to stress. 


In - Further developments in the clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder -

A.M. Cooper summarizes the distinguishing features of the Shy/Covert Narcissist as follows:


     Covert narcissistic individuals are those whose fantasies,
whether conscious or unconscious,
are indeed grandiose, inflated, unrealistic, and self-centered. 

They may be preoccupied with fantasies of grandiose achievements, imagining themselves as world heroes, centers of attention, and acclaimed by all.  However, for one of several dynamic reasons, these fantasies are not expressed in overt behavior and are regarded by the individual consciously as beyond attainment. 
The grandiose desires are not matched by a conviction of personal efficacy. 

 These individuals are conflicted and guilty over their overweening exhibitionistic, competitive, and aggressive desires,
and their defensiveness often leads them to suppress or repress any awareness of the existence of these qualities. 


 Most often, a barrier is imposed by a severe inner conscience that finds these fantasies unacceptable, demanding both that they should be  suppressed and that the person should feel guilty for harboring unacceptable wishes. 

In effect, the superego accurately detects
that within these self-inflating ideas lie self-centered, aggrandizing desires to attribute all goodness and power to oneself
and relegate all weakness and badness to others
, an aspect of the angry envy that probably is involved in the genesis of all narcissistic pathology.

******************************
To continue, from
A.M. Cooper's - Further developments in the clinical diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder -

The patients, like the public at large, may see only the final defensive inhibitory behaviors
and perceive themselves as shy and unassertive,
unable to obtain what rightfully they deserve. 
Often, the first hint of their underlying grandiosity comes when one realizes that adolescent types of daydreams of being heroic and acclaimed have persisted into adult life with unusual intensity and frequency.

  These individuals often think of themselves as  perfectionists  . . . their fantasy of what they ought to be or produce is so inflated and grandiose that no actual product ever meets their internal standard. 

This discrepancy between unconscious fantasy and reality leads to further guilt and
merciless attack from the conscience for not meeting self-set standards
as well as to feelings of worthlessness concurrent with grandiosity. 

These individuals often come to the attention of psychiatrists because of the depression and sense of inner deadness that they experience, as nothing in the world matches the thrill of triumphant achievement that they imagine is due them.

Certain Hope

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2008, 03:16:58 PM »
The basic idea is that a narcissist wants to secure himself against the need to say,
"Okay, I made a mistake, I was wrong."
To a narcissist, this is a fate worse than death, and many narcissists quite literally suffer death to avoid the possibility.

Normal people are willing to be found wrong, over and over again, because this is in the nature of life.
Such people expect their personal creative process to eventually bear fruit, and are willing to experiment with reality,
walk paths not yet explored, sometimes stumble and fall,
in the hope of contributing something new to the store of human knowledge.

At some risk of oversimplification, a normal person is willing to be wrong 100 times in order to create something uniquely new and useful,
while a narcissist sacrifices this opportunity, this stage of personal evolution, in order to be secure against the possibility of being found wrong.

For a normal person, being wrong is the price we pay for the creative process.
For a narcissist, being wrong is too high a price to pay
better to label other people as wrong, from within an impregnable fortress of mediocrity.
Unfortunately, in exchange for an infantile kind of security, narcissists sacrifice any chance to positively influence the world.

SilverLining

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2008, 06:18:22 PM »
This is very helpful!  Thanks for posting. :)   In the past I have described my father as borderline autistic but shy/covert narcissism may be a better explanation of his overall behavior.   In his youth, he imagined himself becoming a great military general and even applied to West Point.  I'm fuzzy on details but I believe he was accepted and then for some reason didn't go.  Maybe at an unconscious level he knew he had no chance of success.  So then he ends up a nuclear scientist when it appeared in the 1950's this technology was going to save the world.   That fantasy fell apart by the 70's and he spent most of his mid/later life in a depressive autistic state, even though from an outside point of view he didn't have a bad career.  He once wrote a letter to my brother in which he described himself as "wanting to soar but totally failing to do so". 

Aspergers syndrome seemed a good label because I never directly experienced the early grandiose phase, but I definitely got to see the later subtle sense of entitlement, failure, and severe vulnerability to stress.  He used to come home from his job and lie in bed for hours with a hot water bottle, supposedly because of stress from his job. 

My head is spinning from all the new revelations in the past few weeks....  :lol:


Certain Hope

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2008, 07:00:59 PM »
You are so welcome, tjr! I always benefit from your posts... and so glad to reciprocate!

This area of covert narcissism is fairly new to me, as well... and instantly I recognize alot of my mother in it... and in what you describe of your father, coming home to his hot water bottle. E v e r y step of life is so absolutely dreadful and stressful for these folks, I think. My mother was in a constant state of being internally overwound and yet depressed... and simple depression or ocd or any other tag just never explained it.

For me, having always been quite shy (until I met and survived npd ex in my 40's!!), I can see clearly the roots within myself of this covert narcissism... and I almost feel as though it may be what helped me survive some of the dreadful setbacks over the years (as well as likely helping me into position for setbacks  :?). The ingredients for this mess are all there, within me... and yet, so is empathy... and I attribute the activation of that empathy to my own children, without whom...
well, I think I might be much more like my mother than I care to imagine.

So yeah, my head's spinning, too... lol  :?
See, I never sacrificed my need to be right.
I just hit enough walls which proved me wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt that I woke up.
Thank God!

Thanks for your comments, tjr.. always much appreciated.

Carolyn

Elaine1966

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2008, 12:02:39 AM »
WOW, this was very enlightening for me as well!  My fiance shows many of the Shy/Covert signs as well.  He appears somewhat anti-social, he does not like social events or family gatherings, Holidays, etc.  He sits at home on that computer game.  He enflates everything and acts as the world centers around him.  Acts as he is the "all powerful" and we must all listen to what he says.

This so helps me to realize I am not alone with this topic.  I wish us all well with this very powerful subject that affects many of our lives.

Elaine

SilverLining

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Re: WHY ? What does this mean?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2008, 12:41:30 PM »
 

"He immediately picks up other peoples words and phrases and adopts them into speech and written form"


What I would so love to know, desire to know, is WHY exactly did he (and looking back he always did this .... with others too)

What is it?   Is there a concept / meaning for this ?

I think this is significantly important, to know, why and what.

Does anyone know?

Many thanks,

Leah x


I agree it's significant.  My father does this.  It's another pattern I started to see in recent years. He throws out phrases and opinions from books, magazines, and other statements as if they were his own original creation.  It's definitely crazymaking.  Others try to interact based on his opinions of the day, but the next day he reads something different and his position shifts.  I've made comments which he instantly counters (the typical response) but then not much later he's repeating the comments as his own opinion.  Very weird and hard to deal with.  He operates like a computer with no long term memory, following a program to respond to everything with a counterpoint or covertly abusive comment. 

This is just sort of thinking out loud but maybe it has to do with their lack of connection to an authentic strong "core self"?   Since N's look out at the world and see nothing but projections of themselves, they pick up material from outside and quickly translate it into their own,  totally without consciousness of the underlying process.  At the same time, they can't acknowledge it came from "outside" because that would be admitting vulnerability and weakness.  So they are involved in a constant somewhat desperate project to build their "self" out of the material coming at them in the moment, while at the same time denying what is going on. 




   


   
 
   
« Last Edit: February 11, 2008, 01:01:58 PM by tjr100 »

Certain Hope

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2008, 04:04:25 PM »
So glad to know y'all are finding this info helpful!

Here's the rest of what I've gathered so far... with more to come:



***************************************************************************************


A Covert/Shy Narcissist will have grandiose fantasies but will also be plagued by a feeling of unworthiness and thus shame for even having fantasized about his or her greatness.
This type of narcissist is likely to be characterized by an incapacity to sustain ambitions or to pursue even attainable goals with full dedication, yielding to others rewards that he or she may legitimately deserve. 
The final result is often significant masochistic self-damage, self-pity, feelings of hurt, and depression.

While feeling they deserve to be recognized for their specialness,
unlike the Arrogant/Overt Narcissist, the Covert/Shy Narcissist is plagued by self-doubts
and thus does not as readily seek the affirmation from others he or she believes is due. 

Moreover, because of this strong sense of worthlessness, this type of narcissist often will not seek out appropriate friends or romantic partners, because they fear exposure as frauds.
For this reason their associates tend to be conspicuously inferior to themselves.  

Cooper observes that this narcissist, secretly harbors fantasies that he or she is engaged in a heroic rescue of someone of lesser capabilities...

  And, when their friends and associates offer praise, the Shy/Covert Narcissist believes that this admiration is phony and insincere. 

They tend to devote a considerable amount of time ruminating over the unfairness of how little their true worth is appreciated and how others get the recognition for things that they themselves did.


For Elaine ~  my husband is rather addicted to a computer game, as well... and I myself have struggled with addictive behavior (particularly to the internet!  :o)...  so I'd just like to say that this sort of behavior in and of itself can be attributed to numerous other factors besides covert narcissism, although... considering the patterns in your fiance's behavior, I dunno.

Anyhow, some of this stuff is mere childish fantasy (computer preoccupation), some can be attributed to depression, avoidance, obsessive compulsive traits... whew - - a very messy mish-mash of complications, indeed. But I'll try to write some more about computer addictions soon - particularly re: these games, which especially can be seditious (like the rpg - role playing games).

Hugs,
Carolyn

SilverLining

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Re: WHY ? What does this mean?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2008, 12:35:13 PM »


I believe that is it in a nutshell, I really do.  What I have thought is that he would take on a "self" a 'persona' simply because he did not have one, a core Self.

This whole experience is a living nightware to walk and live through with someone and so very crazymaking.   

((((( TJR ))))) that you have lived through all of this also.

I honestly feel understood and validated.

Grateful thanks,

Leah x


Hi Leah.  Likewise I am very grateful to you for the feedback and validation.  I've kinda stumbled along for years with no discussion of these issues.  There were a few feeble attempts with the siblings, but we are all subject to the same unconscious rulebook so it never went very far.  And as I've suggested on other threads, validation and positive feedback were in pretty short supply in my FOO.   

After thinking about it some more, the "lack of self" idea explains a lot.   I had been wondering if my father was just getting senile, but now I recognize a pattern going back to my early childhood.  He reads a book, gets an narcissistic inflationary idea, pursues it for awhile, reality proves disappointing, then he falls into depression, blaming it on outside "forces" such as the family.  From my mid-life perspective I can't remember a time it wasn't going on.  The entire FOO experience was an emotional roller coaster driven (at least in part) by my fathers bi-polar swings. 

The conversation you describe with your ex strikes me as a child/adult trap.  You being the rational adult remember what he said three weeks ago and remind him of this straightforward information.  He comes back like an 8 year old with "no I didn't"   Now you are expected to be the parent and just let him bounce around in his regressive fantasy world.  Not much chance of an "adult to adult" relationship from that point. 
   
Thanks again Carolyn for starting this thread.  It's been a personal history changing revelation for me.  Learning about autism and aspergers syndrome a few years ago was a great help, but it never quite fit what was going on in my family. 


SilverLining

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2008, 01:44:49 PM »

For me, having always been quite shy (until I met and survived npd ex in my 40's!!), I can see clearly the roots within myself of this covert narcissism... and I almost feel as though it may be what helped me survive some of the dreadful setbacks over the years (as well as likely helping me into position for setbacks  :?). The ingredients for this mess are all there, within me... and yet, so is empathy... and I attribute the activation of that empathy to my own children, without whom...
well, I think I might be much more like my mother than I care to imagine.

Carolyn

Seems like a good non N-ish insight to me.   Maybe you WERE more like your mother than you imagine, but are now conscious of the whole thing, which is NOT like her?   So possibly an N-ish phase was just part of a larger unfolding.  What seems narcissistic in hindsight may have been temporary defensive self containment. 

Likewise for me, the more sobering revelation is how it might have been passed down to me.  It's obvious how my father picked it up from my grandfather, and my brother from my father.   During my early adulthood I was reeling from an inflation/deflation cycle of my own and rather desperately searching for a sense of self.   I feel like I was reeling from the effects of the whole childhood environment, and maybe now am starting to overcome these limitations.      
« Last Edit: February 12, 2008, 04:30:31 PM by tjr100 »

Certain Hope

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2008, 07:42:03 PM »


Seems like a good non N-ish insight to me.   Maybe you WERE more like your mother than you imagine, but are now conscious of the whole thing, which is NOT like her?   So possibly an N-ish phase was just part of a larger unfolding.  What seems narcissistic in hindsight may have been temporary defensive self containment. 

Likewise for me, the more sobering revelation is how it might have been passed down to me.  It's obvious how my father picked it up from my grandfather, and my brother from my father.   During my early adulthood I was reeling from an inflation/deflation cycle of my own and rather desperately searching for a sense of self.   I feel like I was reeling from the effects of the whole childhood environment, and maybe now am starting to overcome these limitations.      

Thank you so much, tjr. This is an area which absolutely boggles my mind, because - as you've indicated - I know that we each bear inherited traits from our parents, etc... and so, of course, I "can't help" but be like my mother in some ways... and it's like the battle against my own innate characteristics somehow keeps her (and my dad, too, in other ways) as the focal point of my struggles... when I don't want to have inherited anything from them, you know? I guess maybe the source of all that is anger, on my part, but it feels more like revulsion. And the alternative to that seems to be to consider their positive qualities... which I also find to be a revolting concept.

Sorry, this is really a confusing mess to try to express, but... it's like I'm afraid to consider any of their characteristics as "good" or positive, because that feels like making myself a potential victim yet once again of hoping that maybe they could be capable of a genuine relationship.
It'd be so much easier to apply black/white thinking to them, but that's the immature mentality of the adolescent in me, I think...
and when you boil it all down, I don't want to be going through something now which shoulda been over 30 years ago, when I was a teenager.

Anyhow, I love the expression "temporary defensive self containment"... and I do believe it fits... I just wish it hadn't lasted so long. Truly, it's the same exact phenomenon I witness in my own teenaged daughter, who's about to turn 17...
and the same with my older 2 girls... both of whom appear to have outgrown it now...
good grief, I can make myself dizzy with wondering.

So I understand at a gut level - the reeling from the effects. When all you know is to somehow try to merge, meld, or complete the identity of another who has virtually no sense self... now that's a life built on illusion. The unsettling discomfort of finding your own two legs on which to stand... well, it's like coming off a 40 year boat ride and finding that they're made of jello. They'll strengthen with exercise though, I keep tellin myself... they really will. 

Thanks again. Your post really helped.

Carolyn

Certain Hope

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2008, 10:36:17 PM »
This gets pretty technical, but there's some good info to be gleaned, I think:

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:0LnDLzq7Z7AJ:www.wellesley.edu/Psychology/Wink/Two%2520faces%2520of%2520Narcissism.pdf+covert+narcissism&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

from Two Faces of Narcissism   by Paul Wink,  Institute of Personality Assessment and Research University of California, Berkeley

The present study examines the lack of strong correlations among existing self-report measures of narcissism. A principal-components analysis of 6 MMPI narcissism scales resulted in 2 orthogonal factors, 1 implying Vulnerability-Sensitivity and the other Grandiosity-Exhibitionism. Although unrelated to each other, these 2 factors were associated with such core features of narcissism as conceit, self-indulgence, and disregard of others. Despite this common core, however, Vulnerabil- ity-Sensitivity was associated with introversion, defensiveness, anxiety, and vulnerability to life's traumas, whereas Grandiosity-Exhibitionism was related to extraversion, self-assurance, exhibi- tionism, and aggression. Three alternative interpretations of these results are considered, and an argument for the distinction between covert and overt narcissism is made.

..........   A third interpretation can be derived from the clinical per- spective, and involves the distinction between overt and covert forms of narcissism.
Psychoanalysts have attributed narcissism to parental insensitivity, which results in the child's defensive grandiosity (Kernberg, 1975),
or, alternatively,
prevents the transformation of infantile feelings of grandeur into a healthy sense of self-esteem (Kohut, 1971, 1977).

The presence of gran- deur is accompanied by feelings of inferiority, which reflect the child's natural and nondefensive response to faulty and insensi- tive parenting. Through the use of the defense mechanism of splitting (Kernberg, 1975; Klein, 1957), the narcissist manages to keep the two conflicting feelings about the self away from conscious awareness.
The contradictory sense of narcissistic self-esteem in con- junction with the use of splitting has led dynamic researchers (Kernberg, 1975, 1986; Kohut, 1977) to postulate the presence of two forms of narcissism.

When it is overt, narcissistic gran- diosity leads to a direct expression of exhibitionism, self-impor- tance, and preoccupation with receiving attention and admira- tion from others. This overt form of narcissism is reflected in the DSM-III criteria, which also acknowledge the contradic- tory nature of narcissistic self-esteem. Similarly, Reich's (1949) notion of phallic narcissism stresses arrogant self-assurance, blatant self-confidence, and flagrant display of superiority.

The second form of narcissism, covert narcissism, is marked by largely unconscious feelings of grandeur and openly dis- played lack of self-confidence and initiative, vague feelings of depression, and an absence of zest for work (narcissistic defi- ciency). Covertly narcissistic individuals appear to be hyper- sensitive, anxious, timid, and insecure, but on close contact surprise observers with their grandiose fantasies (Kernberg, 1986). Moreover, they share with the overt narcissists those nar- cissistic characteristics, such as exploitativeness and a sense of entitlement, whose expression does not depend on interper- sonal style.

SilverLining

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2008, 12:55:37 PM »
This is an area which absolutely boggles my mind, because - as you've indicated - I know that we each bear inherited traits from our parents, etc... and so, of course, I "can't help" but be like my mother in some ways... and it's like the battle against my own innate characteristics somehow keeps her (and my dad, too, in other ways) as the focal point of my struggles... when I don't want to have inherited anything from them, you know? I guess maybe the source of all that is anger, on my part, but it feels more like revulsion. And the alternative to that seems to be to consider their positive qualities... which I also find to be a revolting concept.

Sorry, this is really a confusing mess to try to express, but... it's like I'm afraid to consider any of their characteristics as "good" or positive, because that feels like making myself a potential victim yet once again of hoping that maybe they could be capable of a genuine relationship.
It'd be so much easier to apply black/white thinking to them, but that's the immature mentality of the adolescent in me, I think...
and when you boil it all down, I don't want to be going through something now which shoulda been over 30 years ago, when I was a teenager.


I understand where you are coming from, because it sure looks like the place I'm at.  For 20 years I was in a struggle to avoid ending up in a situation like the FOO.  I tried to do things that seemed nearly opposite of how they operate.  Then at age 39, I survey the wreckage of my own life (the collapse of my own narcissistic fantasies?) and wonder how I ended up in a place that looked so much like the start, except with different accessories and scenery.  Then it gets confusing.  Is my real self struggling against a false self, or is the whole struggle part of the false self?  Struggle doesn't seem to work, but I feel the same as you about passivity.  Just giving in and accepting their "positive qualities" as the driver of myself looks like a trap.  My brother seems to be going this way, and it's not a path I want to go down.   

Coming from  N-ish environments it feels like we are thrown into the pool with an anchor around our necks.  Our parents weren't in the business of helping us discover our real selves, so we pick up their n-ish behavors and selves as part of our own.  In my family I was treated to a steady stream of labels and comparisons:  "You act like your father" "You have your mothers temper" and on and on.  It would have been nice (or at least different)to be treated as a real separate individual.

I've been trying my best to stay in the moment and just witness the process churning within the mind, then maybe making a different choice when temptation to go down the wrong path pops up.   Maybe I was like the parents in the past, and maybe I have the same impulses, but I can try to stay conscious of the whole process and make better choices, moment to moment.

It doesn't appear my father, grandfather, brother e.t.c.. have ever tried this sort of approach, so maybe it's a way out of the trap?   Then again it could always be another narcissistic fantasy.  I guess it's never going to get easy :)



Certain Hope

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2008, 07:50:22 PM »


I understand where you are coming from, because it sure looks like the place I'm at.  For 20 years I was in a struggle to avoid ending up in a situation like the FOO.  I tried to do things that seemed nearly opposite of how they operate.  

Then at age 39, I survey the wreckage of my own life
(the collapse of my own narcissistic fantasies?)
and wonder how I ended up in a place that looked so much like the start, except with different accessories and scenery. 
Then it gets confusing.


Yes!! Exactly, tjr!!  And THEN it gets confusing... argh!

Doing exactly the opposite (externally) until the collapse of my own n fantasies... yes. That is just how it has seemed to me.

As an aside, because I don't know where else to put this...
Today I realized that a big chunk of what I've been despising about my parents, since I left behind religion, is their religiousity... because it has always - for as long as I can recall - been so obviously superficial to me.  They are as religious about writing to me as they are about attending church... and in neither case is their any genuine relationship. God knows how I feel about that!
In my mind, I have clearly equated them to the form of "dead religion" which was the hallmark of my life for so many years... and it didn't have anything to do with attending a church. For me, it was the religion of perfectionism and keeping up appearances. That is all I am to them, I feel...
an outlet for their religiousity.
I hate it... and, in my mind, they are it.... and so I'm confessing it here and opening myself to healing for that internal wound of bitterness.



Is my real self struggling against a false self, or is the whole struggle part of the false self?  Struggle doesn't seem to work, but I feel the same as you about passivity.  Just giving in and accepting their "positive qualities" as the driver of myself looks like a trap.  My brother seems to be going this way, and it's not a path I want to go down.   

But many human beings have positive qualities ( I hesitate to say that all do ) ... why must our positive qualities be necessarily inherited from them?
See... I don't want anything from them at all, bad or good... that's my pride talking, I feel. It's up to us to choose to stop comparing ourselves with them or with anyone else, I am thinking.

Coming from  N-ish environments it feels like we are thrown into the pool with an anchor around our necks.  Our parents weren't in the business of helping us discover our real selves, so we pick up their n-ish behavors and selves as part of our own.  In my family I was treated to a steady stream of labels and comparisons:  "You act like your father" "You have your mothers temper" and on and on.  It would have been nice (or at least different)to be treated as a real separate individual.

Yes  :(  and I know that there's some truth in some of those remarks... but only a seed of truth... and my first thought is - we can choose not to water those seeds!!

I've been trying my best to stay in the moment and just witness the process churning within the mind, then maybe making a different choice when temptation to go down the wrong path pops up.   Maybe I was like the parents in the past, and maybe I have the same impulses, but I can try to stay conscious of the whole process and make better choices, moment to moment.

It doesn't appear my father, grandfather, brother e.t.c.. have ever tried this sort of approach, so maybe it's a way out of the trap?   Then again it could always be another narcissistic fantasy.  I guess it's never going to get easy :)




No, not a fantasy, I don't think, tjr... not at all. Sounds like maturity, to me...
not being able to say, "Hey, I've arrived!"... but definitely able to say, "I've left the station!"  :)

This really is helping... thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Carolyn

SilverLining

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2008, 12:17:01 PM »




I don't know if you're being fair to yourself when you call it 'my own narcissistic fantasies'.  My feeling is that children are born into the fantasy of the N.  Babies don't come into the world knowing normal form narcissist.  When they are groomed from the cradle to live in the fantasy created by the N, then how are they to know?

However, as adults coming out of the fantasy (which may be displayed in a number of ways including narcissism), then like it or not, we must own who we are (or choose to remain in denial) and do what it takes to get on the right path.  And that's the hard part.  My thinking is that childhood is  0 to the age of accountability.  And in my experience, it takes just about that much time to undo the damage done to one in the childhood years.  Not a pleasant thought, but IMO one close to accurate.

tt

Thanks TT.  I may be overconscious of possibilities for fantasy, because it seems to be a major theme in my FOO.  My father and my brother seem to have strong fantasies lives that interfere with real functioning.  I think my personal challenges lie more in issues of parentification.  I was the parentified oldest sibling who spent the first twenty years of adult life trying to fill the emotional void from childhood with outside "stuff", or the avoidance of outside stuff.   


SilverLining

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Re: The Shy/ Covert Narcissist
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2008, 12:40:53 PM »

They are as religious about writing to me as they are about attending church... and in neither case is their any genuine relationship. God knows how I feel about that!

Carolyn

Hi Carolyn.  I was wondering if you also experienced "parenting by mail" since there are so many other parallels in your FOO's.  The letters from my parents (mostly my father)  drove me nuts with their criticisms,  self absorbed content, and no invitations at all to any real dialogue.  I finally decided it was an extension of the usual pattern.  For my father it was a way of monologuing on paper with no danger at all of reciprocal interaction.   And he could tell himself he was a good father for putting the time in to write these letters. 


Religion is a tough issue for me as well.  I was required to attend church weekly for my early years, but it was obviously just a ritual.  My father didn't attend, which made it more confusing.   I'd like to find some sort of spiritual group,  but my early experiences were so bad it's hard to get over the distrust of organized religion.