Thursday, April 7, 2011

The self-absorbed

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.

Joanna Ashmun has noticed the same phenomenon:

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.

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.

By Kathy Krajco