Sunday, January 19, 2020

Shame as the root of narcissim

My sister in law has been reading "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" by Brené Brown and sending me quotes.

I think this one is such a good point, especially on the heels of this post on what is actually the best way to help a sociopath change their behavior. Re narcissists:

"Here’s where it gets tricky. And frustrating. And maybe even a little heartbreaking. The topic of narcissism has penetrated the social consciousness enough that most people correctly associate it with a pattern of behaviors that include grandiosity, a pervasive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. What almost no one understands is how every level of severity in this diagnosis is underpinned by shame. Which means we don’t “fix it” by cutting people down to size and reminding folks of their inadequacies and smallness. Shame is more likely to be the cause of these behaviors, not the cure."

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

Same thing for sociopaths. Their grandiosity and self centered behavior comes from a profound lack of sense of self. They don't recognize or honor the boundaries of other people because the sociopath has no sense of his own boundaries. He was never taught to understand, respect, or make space for the vulnerability of others because he was taught from his earliest ages to stifle his own vulnerability and to take up no space, to be a cyper.

Along those lines, from the same book:

"The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself. I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections. We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both. We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices. You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel. I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude. I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable. When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life. Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it. We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here. As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly. I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you."


  1. You've talked in the past about how your research seems to point to the 'creation' of sociopaths being roughly half genetic and half upbringing. The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto seems to support the upbringing theory. Personally I think it's slightly unrealistic to expect parents (specifically empaths) to adhere to such level-headed parenting methods. On top of that, it feels to me as though humanity as a whole is so stuck in the mindset of vulnerability = weak that the idea of someone breaking the pattern to teach their children otherwise would almost certainly result in their child's ostracization. The child would likely be pushed back into the norm of being closed off, the events of which would have the potential to lead to trauma surrounding vulnerability and openness.

    I'm curious, M.E., are there times when you feel vulnerable?

  2. When my first son was born, my first instinct was to nurture in this child a sense of his independent existence. I wanted him to know who he was, and to know his relationship to other people in our family. I didn't know why this was so compelling for me until much later.

    I've said so many times that the life changing experience I had with **-* was that I felt space to be.

    I didn't realise that it was because he was taking up even less space than I was.

    I tried very consciously to preserve his autonomy - he uses the word freedom. He really was very sensitive to this freedom being curtailed. I honestly, honestly did try to honour that. Like I can't express that strongly enough; it was so important to me.

    As far as I can see, I did learn boundaries and I did learn more about what I wanted and I started to reject his controls.

    I do see how that would have been disruptive to him. But now I've learnt to have some space in this world, I can't evaporate again.

    "Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt, the and resolve itself into a dew!" That's how I felt most of my life. I dissociated whenever I felt vulnerable (or "negative emotions" sad my father called them - sadness, fear, anger were all disallowed.) In fact, I dissociated from these feelings so much that when I eventually tried allowing myself to feel them... I didn't feel, I felt dead. I perceived that I was dead, my dad had put that much fear of feeling into me. My psychologist helped me through that and I rarely dissociate now. When I do, I recognise it.

    I feel sad that I grew with **-* but he has not had the same positive experience (evidently).

    Elinor Greenberg writes that she offers her schizoid clients lots of choices and provides them with knowledge of what's going to happen. I know those things are really helpful to me. I'm less inclined to feel engulfed. So I tried to behave like that with **-*. I think it did help. But not enough and when I didn't remember to offer choices when he was vulnerable... Well, I'm still paying for that aren't I.

    If I knew how I would have tried to affirm his personhood, like I do with my sons. I really wanted to do that. He gave me that great gift, even if he is doing his utmost to take it back right now.


    1. He was never taught to understand, respect, or make space for the vulnerability of others because he was taught from his earliest ages to stifle his own vulnerability and to take up no space, to be a cyper.

      I meant to say this is probably the best description of where I feel a shared heritage with sociopaths.

      People talk of schizoid folk being the "unwanted child", of becoming invisible. I referred to this above with the Hamlet quite, and it was a key feature of the nature of my dissociative patterns was the desire to dissolve, to take no space. My car is small, my apartment is thing.

      Sociopaths probably "take no space" in a different way, maybe more by melding than evaporating.

      In dealing with threat, I would mostly try to go around, to find a different, unobstructed or synthetic path (the latter makes me a good consultant because I can easily resolve competing stakeholder interests).

      **-* seemed to be all about the pre-emptive strike, or about preventing possibilities he didn't want to emerge. His defence is ruthless, unrelenting attack.

    2. That is so boring. Your stories are so boring, North. Can't you tell something new? I think you are not making any progress, you remain static.

    3. Is it just you who doesn't want me here or does everyone not want me here?

    4. The best defense is a good offense.

  3. The idea from the piece that there is something to "cure" or that sociopath survival instinct, though closer to the surface is "worse" than that of an Empath is flawed.

    Narcissistic behaviour is predominantly empathic trait. Indeed ot is celebrated in culture with "leaders" and for more specific example British Royal family.

    The same error in reasoning in the work can be seen in the 50/50 genetic to environmental factor in formation of character. This given some variance in proportion is the same for anyone.

    If we wish to end the cycles of violence and destruction in the world maybe it is the empathic traits that need to be moderated not those classed as sociopathic.

    1. In the context of our discussion here. A person not classed as a sociopath or displaying traits associated with that state.

  4. I don´t think socios like narcis. Pompous people degrading their surrounding so they can get elevated (they often start conversations with an insult). The socio form of narcissism is quiet & hidden, they think they are the most intelligent person in a room & similar things..

  5. y are schizoids mistaken for npd when they have no shame or dont care about praise

  6. You did say that women always want more, and it turns out you were right in my case. It was hurting me to stay within your constraints, but I can see how that would have been frustrating and disappointing for you, especially since you had warned about it and had been clear about your expectations. I also know that you did try (within your constraints) and I did appreciate that.

    I'm sorry that we couldn't both have a good experience. It's regretful to me that I couldn't find a way but I did try. You did matter to me and still do, you were my favourite thing. There simply wasn't a path we could walk together.

    1. who are you talking to

    2. Look, if it wasn't for North expressing her shit to herself, this place would be having zero comments on every pointless glad she's so obsessed with *whatever*the*whothe*fuck he is, and use it to make your shit remarks. sorry, but I'm glad it hurts, I only come here nowadays to see how much he's fucked you up, and let's face it...its a lot.
      Suck it up woman, he's reading your bleed and probably touching himself inappropriately.
      Like me.
      You're tougher than this and you know it.
      Fuck him and his bull fuckshit.
      Stop dancing to his tune and fuck him off...he'll soon come running.
      Or do you actually quite like playing the victim? sick fuck you...

    3. Swop, it's always a pleasure. I sure know you would make it hurt so good

    4. He can jerk off as much as he wants. Chicks go for winners. You know what Sean Connery said, right. There's a lot of truth in that.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.



Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.