Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Narcissism

My work, of course, continues.  I found the other day that I could contact conflicting elements within myself--effective solutions to real problems at different times which have outlived their usefulness--and hold them in a shared space.  I did not try to reconcile them: they must do this organically.  Intrapsychic force never works.

Perhaps I could stipulate a principle: the coming together of the components of psychic conflicts can be allowed, but never compelled.  Not, in any event, if true organic integration is the goal.  Again: there is a self similarity between this fact, and social integration, which also cannot be compelled, if the goal is true integration.  We tried to compel it: it didn't work.  And what progress has been made has been made in spite of the spokespeople for integration and "progress" of all sorts, not because of them.  When they understand one another, people tend to get along.  It is that simple.  And the same process applies intrapsychically, in that you in effect have to "introduce" disparate elements to one another.

I was talking to a guy last night in a bar who is a hard charger one minute, and a nervous wreck the other.  When he is a hard charger, he is putting important elements of his emotional self on hold, suppressing them.  But you cannot suppress things forever, or at least not without considerable cost.  Most alcoholics and drug abusers fit this profile.  "Functional" alcoholics, like me, fit this profile, although in my own case I see the problem and work daily--nearly continuously--to solve it.  This idea here, for example, is new to me.

I had some interesting dreams last night, that brought some ideas to mind, which I wanted to share.

Looking at my mother, she never loved me, because she does not know how, but she loved the reflection of herself she saw in me.  I am her.  I am a part of her.

And I started looking more deeply at what is called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and I feel it really ought to be recategorized as a form of Developmental Trauma.  In fact, I would agree with Bessel van der Kolk that much of the DSM should be restructured to reflect the pervasive effects in later life of very similar traumas that happen early in life.  Depression, anxiety, phobias, compulsions: all have the same roots, and it is stupid--and in the case of the psychiatrists who receive so much remuneration from their moral equivalents in the pharmaceutical industry--venal to pretend otherwise.

Narcissists lack the mirroring necessary to develop a core sense of self, so they seek to force mirroring on the world.  They force the world to look at them, to pay attention to them.  Their every moment is a struggle between psychological disintegration, and revivification through being seen.  Everywhere they look they want reconfirmation that they exist and are recognized.  This is a continuation of a basic process which every infant goes through, where they look to the world, and ask it to see it, to recognize them as human beings, to recognize their needs.  But in a narcissist this world exists at such a primitive level that they cannot get to the root feelings, which are horror and complete confusion, to the point where psychotic breakdown is perhaps a real possibility in some of them.  This is why it is so hard to treat.

In effect, you have psychological infants out in the world, continually consuming what some theorists call "Narcissistic Supply", because they need it like vampires--who are perhaps one mythic emanation of this basic dynamic--need blood.  They need the life of others, their attention, their generosity, their openness, their giving.

I have to be honest: I don't know why I am still alive, other than that I seem to have been born with an enormous capacity for endurance and suffering.  The last therapist I saw was asking me where I got emotional support in my childhood from, and it was a very short list.  It amounted to, "well, I had a dog, and there were a couple teachers who were nice to me, and my grandfather who I saw once a year I always liked."

But all this is also extraordinarily interesting.  It is like a gave myself, in planning my life, a scavenger hunt, and intentionally hid some of the prizes in the deepest darkest places so I knew I would have to go there, would have to do deep introspection as a condition of survival.

I am gradually integrating.  In some respects the only fact that matters is that I DID survive, and did so with the capacity for internal focus.  I am gradually learning how to learn.  This is by far the toughest task any of us undertake.

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