Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The self-absorbed

As mentioned above, a malignant narcissist is fixated 100% of the time on his image. To the exclusion of virtually all other sensation — sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings. In other words, he is absorbed in/by his image.

Our brains are programmed to "learn" what we pay little or no attention to. They adapt over time to filtering this type of information. A good example is background noise. There is probably plenty of background noise in the room you're in right now, but you were unaware of hearing it until I called it to consciousness by mentioning it.

Aren't you glad your brain has learned to filter it out? Otherwise you'd be distracted by every fly that buzzed. You'd never be able to focus on anything, because every passing car on the street outside would distract you.

So, what happens when a person with narcissistic personality disorder willfully remains in a world of Pretend, trying to pay attention only to what he wants to see = his reflected image in others interacting with him? He is fixated on that reflection of his. Preoccupied with it. He deliberately pays little or no attention to anything else — no attention to those other annoying sights and sounds that distract him from his image = false self.

He goes through life trying to put all other things out of his mind as much as possible. Especially things he must pretend are beneath his notice, like you. So, though he doesn't mind watching geese and squirrels when there are no mirrors around, he always willfully blocks out things like the sound of your voice and the sight of your face (all he wants to see is his reflection there, not your face).

Can you see how such a person actually trains their brain to malfunction? He trains his brain to "tune out" that sort of sensory information right along with the sensory information it's supposed to tune out, like the background noise, the picture on the wall behind you, the pressure of his chair on his butt.

The result is that a narcissist is permanently in an almost autistic state of self-absorption. He misses an astonishing amount of what's right before his eyes.

For example, a narcissist often fails to notice even a drastic change in the weather outside. My most memorable observation of this occurred while I was getting hectically blabbed at by a narcissistic woman who thought I should be interested in every mundane thing she had to do that day. A few errands and a trip to the grocery store. Oh, she was so busy, busy, busy and these household chores were so demanding. Especially on this gloomy day in the rain.

My jaw dropped, because we were standing next to a bank of huge windows, showing that the sky had cleared a couple hours ago and that the sun was brilliantly shining.

Over time, it becomes truly hard for a narcissist to focus on anything but the type of information he normally wants. He may go to a drug store, for example, and be unable to focus well enough to find the product he wants among the others on the shelf.

And as for things he really wants to block out, like what other people are saying to him, forget it. Try as he may, he can't tune in that signal well enough to focus on whether they are telling him to get red wine or white for supper.

Tip: Don't say, "Don't get red wine." Don't even say the word red if red wine is what you DON'T want. Just write him a note like you would for a little child, and be done with it.

"I have observed very closely some narcissists I've loved, and their inability to pay attention when someone else is talking is so striking that it has often seemed to me that they have neurological problems that affect their cognitive functioning. " - Joanna Ashmun

Since the narcissist identifies with his image, his absorption in it is self-absorption. It's like absorption in a book or a computer or television screen. People with good power of concentration can become absorbed in thought. In fact, to some degree, we are always absorbed in whatever we are paying attention to.

Our ability to become absorbed enables us to focus, or concentrate. Great tennis players, for example, report being so absorbed in the approaching ball, that it actually seems to grow larger, filling their field of view. The result is — whack — a beautifully heavy shot right off dead center on the strings.

Our brains accomplish this focus by filtering out 99% of the information they receive and diverting it to areas in unconscious zones. There, it does not distract us. For example, that's what your brain is doing right now with the sensation of your butt pressing down on the chair you're sitting in. Right? You were unaware of that sensation, until I mentioned it. Then it instantly leapt to consciousness. That's because the brain is a relational database that immediately retrieved that information, calling it to consciousness when it was referenced.

Extreme self-absorption

Unless a narcissist is a "doting" narcissist who keeps a "star" child he's exploiting under a microscope, just ask him about his family. You will be astounded at what he doesn't know about them.

That's the dead give-away.

To test a person, write a basic character description of each member of his immediate family. Note things like whether this person is religious, excitable, highly motivated — that's all, just basic stuff that anyone who sees them regularly should know about them. If you ask a narcissist to match each character description with the family member it belongs to, he will gape at you as though you just asked him to show the derivation of E = mc2.

It will astound him that you would expect him to know such things about his wife and children.

Because you know more about cartoon characters than a narcissist knows about the members of his immediate family. For, he can learn nothing about what he willfully, relentlessly, and reflexively pays no attention to.

Narcissists are notorious for being unable to remember people's names or to even recognize their faces outside the usual setting. That's because people all look the same to you when they all look like this.

n your encounters with them, you make sure you get 100% of their attention while giving them zero of yours. So, what did they say? Anything? Did they even get a word in edgewise? If they did, you didn't hear it.

A narcissist may, for example, recognize her son in the home but not when she runs into him in the grocery store — giving him a stupid stare as he approaches, until he clues her by saying, "Hi, Mom."

Here are some other illustrative examples from narcissists I have known or heard about:

· Does not know how to spell his daughter's name.

· Never had any idea what kind of grades his kids got.

· Does not know his wife or children's birthdays.

· Has never visited the major Website his/her child/sibling published.

· Does not know how old his children are.

· Does not know that his daughter was a National Merit Finalist.

· Has no idea how good his kids are at any sport or other activity.

· Does not know what perfume his wife wears.

· Has never read the book his child wrote.

· Never does learn the names of the students in his/her classes.

· Cannot get the names of people "with two first names" straight. (viz., Jean Paul, Howard Dean, John Kerry, or even John Edwards)

· Does not know the names of his children's spouses, let alone his grandchildren.

· Has never shown up to watch his son play varsity sports.

· Does not know what his children majored in at college or what degrees they earned.

· Does not know whether his teen-age son/daughter is dating.

· Has never met the boy his teen-age daughter has been dating for three years.

One could hardly be less interested in a fly on the wall.