For many years I have tried to understand the mind of the narcissistic abuser.
I admit…their ability to genuinely believe their own lies, to this day, fascinates me.
For do they have insight into the fact that they lied? Certainly, they can remember the events that occurred that favor them, so surely their ability to selectively remember information requires a degree of awareness as to which of their actions would be considered, at least by others, to be immoral?
If they do not have insight and are unaware that they have lied, can they be blamed for lying?
At this point, I stop.
For it is beyond our need to understand whether the abuser should be pardoned for his or her wrong, immoral, hurtful and deceitful actions that have no doubt occurred.
Dwelling down this path may lead the “other” to excuse the abuser’s actions, not because of genuine forgiveness, but rather in desperation to not have to face the painful reality of the abuse that occurred and instead to remain unaware. Such reflection on forgiving the abuser may occur later, only when the “other” has freed his or her enmeshed mind completely from the abuser and regained his or her own self.
Until that time, attempting to explore the abuser’s mind should be solely to help us become aware of the power dynamic for the interests of ourselves, the children and any-one else involved. We must try to understand the part we play in the narcissist’s world to help us to separate fantasy from reality.
We can use the analogy of the chess board and try to understand the mind in three main ways:
Step 1: Identify the fantasy
The narcissistic abuser’s grandiose fantasy of him or herself is the source of all the pain and suffering that the narcissist inflicts on others. It is the “reflection in the mirror”. It is the ego that the narcissist has created and that he or she must defend at all costs to avoid identifying with his or her true self.
It is therefore imperative to question what is the narcissist’s fantasy of him or herself that he or she is so desperate to protect.
It may be higher level of intelligence, wealth, health, beauty, morality, righteousness, leadership within the community, culture or religion. It may be the better ability to father, to mother or to educate others. The fantasy can incorporate a number of different areas.
Interestingly, the grandiose fantasy may even be a lack of a skill, but in comparison to his or her perceived greatness at another skill.
- She may express her lack of dress sense in terms of the morality of not being superficial or vein.
- He may express his lack of availability for his children in terms of his impeccable work ethic which has resulted in a comfortable existence for the family due to his hard work and the sacrifices he as made.
- She may express her inability to provide for her children in terms of being above materialistic possessions or being some-one of simple means.
- He may express his lack of friends in terms of being some-one of high morality, intelligence or table manners that others can not match in conversation.
Within the chess board, the King is the narcissist’s grandiose fantasy which the other pieces lay their lives down to defend, often unaware of what they are actually defending.
Note that there can only be one King on the chess board. This is as the nature of the grandiose fantasy means that the Narcissist must be the expert in that field compared to all other pieces on the board. Any-one who comes close to the Narcissist in terms of their chosen area of expertise will, if possible, be devalued, rejected and as a last consequence, thrown off the chess board. The other option would be to take credit for the achievements and skills of others, for example, stating that it was only due to the Narcissist’s teachings that the other has become successful.
Step 2: Identify the Ideology
The core central aim of the narcissist is to keep his or her grandiose fantasy alive. The King on the chess board must survive and the other pieces are there to defend the King’s ego.
But how is the narcissist going to get other people to shield and protect the King’s ego, whilst the narcissist is abusive to those very same people?
One method, as discussed in my previous post, is through psychological manipulation to diminish the person’s self esteem and convert them into the “other”, so that they can only see the world through the eyes of the abuser.
The other method used is in terms of the imposition of an ideology.
The ideology is what the narcissist expresses other’s should do to try and better themselves so that they can try to achieve the grandiose skills or achievements that he or she has.
The ideology is what the narcissist will use to defend morally why the abuse that he or she inflicts was acceptable and appropriate.
The imposition of ideology becomes the mask of abuse.
- The narcissist’s fantasy is that he is highly educated. The ideology is that his children should also be educated, to try to better themselves. The defense for abusing children is that it is done to discipline the children to become educated.
- The narcissist’s fantasy is that she is a slim, beautiful woman who is an excellent mother. Her ideology is that her daughter should control her weight so that she doesn’t impact the beauty that her genetics provided her, to enable her, for her own best interests, to gain a husband. The defense for repeatedly insulting her daughters weight at dinner is to help make her skinnier as the benefit of the child’s future is the good mother’s concern.
- The narcissist’s fantasy is that he is a man who has slogged hard to earn an income, without the help of his own father. The ideology is that the children should become more independent, like him. The defense for neglecting children or being emotionally or physically abusive is to “toughen them up”.
It is vital to identify the fantasy, the ideology and the defense that the narcissist has created in order to become aware of how abuse is subsequently rationalized and ignored.
Step 3: Identify Your Role
If you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, the narcissist will manipulate you to become the “Queen” on the narcissist’s chess board.
Your role will be to shield the narcissist’s fantasy and ideology, at all costs, including the well being of yourself and your children.
Note that the Queen can be the most powerful piece on the chess board, when used effectively. Whilst the King can only move one piece at a time, the Queen can move several.
Yet, the Queen remains loyal to the King.
The Queen is an extremely useful ally for the Narcissistic King. The King will use you as his or her shield in his or her final method of avoiding any blame or responsibility for the abuse that he or she has inflicted upon others.
- The narcissistic father who has a fantasy that he has worked hard his whole life will blame the mother for spoiling the children, and that, to save the mother from abuse from the spoilt children, he was forced get angry and subsequently had to hit the children.
- The narcissistic mother who has a fantasy that she is a good mother will tell her children that it is their father’s fault for not being there for her that resulted in her becoming addicted to alcohol and it was the subsequent alcohol that caused her to be abusive.
- The narcissistic wife will blame her husband’s perceived lack of education, organisational skills and health issues as to why she was unaware of the various family events that she was neglectfully unable to attend.
- The narcissistic father will express to the child that it is the mother that is the liar, the manipulator, the abuser and the cause of all the pain and suffering that the child has been through.
In this way, armed with his or her ability to distort the truth and pretend events never happened, surrounded by perceived inferior others and morality shielded by a manipulated loyal Queen and the imposition of ideology, the King is free to play and live on a fairy tale chess cardboard, never having to accept responsibility for his or her actions.
Whilst it can be extremely painful, by attempting to understand the Narcissistic abuser’s mind we may become more aware of the skewed power dynamic and the role we play on the Narcissistic chess board.