Friday, July 22, 2016
The narcissist's lie and the election (See related Addendum at July 17 post)
It is difficult to explain the nature of a lie in a sociopath’s and Narcissist’s mind. It is hard to explain how lying, to them, is only secondarily a matter of amorality or immorality, or a middle-finger to the dupe (or to the world), or a stratagem, or an angry offense, or a brain injury, or an amusement. Its primary nature is to be an absolute, critical, unavoidable need – a heart pacemaker – in his life. He must, that is, lie. This is hard to explain because the cause of the disturbance lies in the fuzzy and theory-heavy psychology of identity formation, a process secretly crystallizing through birth and infancy.
For the sociopath (psychopath) and Narcissist, identity formation failed. The person we see is a shell containing a synaptic network of escapes from an identity crater. Truth, factuality, reveals the real world, and in the real world he is a baby on fire, a fire that no one can put out; a little boy gutted by anxiety and lost in the moment, every moment; the infant who couldn’t bond with his mother owing to birth trauma or mother’s character defect, and is therefore alone forever. I’m suggesting that to him, any truth – any unspun reality itself, whether it’s material, personal or remote – will pull him out of his mind and into a disturbing place that he will not identify but senses he must avoid.
How does truth gut the sociopath or Narcissist? To be, to simply exist in the real world is to have to feel, to feel the body self with its history, without holding onto the buoy of thought. Either of the Heartless Pathologies is constantly – from waking to unconsciousness – bathed in the ether of attitudinal thought whose theme is Ego, a place beneath which he can never descend. To simply feel would be to become the muteness, deadness, lostness who never left the starting gate of the crib, the circle of mother’s inept caregiving.
Do people grasp that the “narcissopath” is living on this plane? No (most people don’t see what a proctologist sees). They believe he is showing high or sinister vital emotion and drive. But it’s all “holistic” escapism, running from hell. Try to picture such an individual simply living, “smelling the roses” without a cognitive hitchhiker on board: just sensing, experiencing, pleasuring in simple silence. It should be impossible to picture what he cannot do. He will necessarily be thinking: “I need roses like this in my garden,” or “They smell wonderful – who owns them?”, or “The scent brings back my lonely childhood; I’m so much better now,” or he’ll be in a detached “head place” that dims the redolence, decapitates it through dissociation. Thought is the desert island beneath his feet that protects him from his deeper self.
One reason we don’t see this false existence in others is that most of us live in the default of thought or attitudinal feeling. Most of us have grown a cerebral layer over pain in our childhood. The difference between us and the Radical Deformation will consist of how much loss of our real self we have suffered, and how painful was the cause of it. A solider person might, for example, acknowledge his or his son’s averageness with some pain, but will be able to face it clearly or with a bit of finessing. A psychopath, whose heart was engulfed in flames at birth, will be able to face no flaw in himself, no emotional truth. The Narcissist, with less egregious birth trauma, may experience pockets of regressive maudlin sentiment. But to not be unique and apart from humanity will be to feel the hole of his life: to be extinguished.
Not all escapist thought is Ego
There are many cognitive escapes from identity pain; not all of them are narcissistic. For the child in Levenkron’s book* who requested a vacuum cleaner for his tenth birthday and spent his days ensuring the cleanliness of floor and walls, the ideal – or idea – of purity staved off identity collapse, kept his nihilistic wisdom at bay. He could not accept the truth of a dirty floor, the impossibility of a perfectly clean one. Reality was unacceptable because it made him feel the descending spiral – anxiety, lack of a security-making bond with a parent, lack of separation, and ultimately the absence of a self. Others with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder) may need the rigid purity of morals – no messiness – or the ordering of reality by counting, color coordinating, symmetry, thinking magical thoughts. To touch reality, even one flaw or wrinkle, would be the touched water droplet: opening to formlessness.
The Narcissist became, in early childhood, an absence that may have been filled by his parent’s idealization. “Our perfect boy.” “He’ll play in Carnegie Hall one day.” He may have been pampered as a prince pauper: always offered the last of the entrée or dessert, though there were other people at the table; given no chores, no critical correction, no consequences. Unable to grow in the vacuum of benign neglect, during the adolescent crisis of maturity he would fall upward to the lifesaving plateau of narcissism.
In summary: Being a lie makes lying necessary. An identity-hollow person, who must still function in the world, can never let himself visit the truth. Narcissists are understood to be delusional people: They “know” they are uniquely special, perfect, entitled. Though they speak and walk and gesticulate with aggressive confidence, and seem to be connected powerfully to our real world, they are entirely insular, in a cave of dreams, living solely on the urge of self-beatification. Though you vote for them, they do not feel you, see you, or care.
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* Steven Levenkron, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, Warner Books, 1991.