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pointofNoreturn
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A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 07:15:27 ThuJun 12 2003 )

(An admininstrative decision has been made to re-open this thread because of information which has come to light and very relevant. This thread offers the best hope of understanding the new information in what we hope is the least confusing manner possible. This is a very long thread and the posts start on page 2 for those of you who wish to join in. Once again this thread is open for replies but may be closed if it gets out of hand. This is potentially a very important thread and we hope you will read it carefully. thanks, TcBrown)



At first I thought I might post this under Friends & Family, but then I thought the readership might be too limited, and I really did want everyone to see this.

I've been reading here for quiet awhile (haven't posted as much as I'd like to due to time constraints), and more and more, I've felt the need to comment on an issue that has been repeatedly raised...particularly, those Vaknin forums.

Now I have only participated in one Vaknin forum, and I know there are others, so I can't speak for them all. However, as far as my own experience is concerned, I believe there are a number of misconceptions here about "victim communities." I understand that Vaknin sites are probably very discouraging to those diagnosed with NPD and rightly so--I can imagine that anyone faced with a constant barage of negative comments about their prognosis would be upset. Nevertheless, I don't believe that that's an excuse to "blame the victim." While I sympathize very much with the plight of NPDers who face a scarcity of information and overt hostility, I've been downright angered with comments here likening members of support forums to mindless cult followers or hatemongerers. :fuming: Therefore, I want to present a list of issues to be considered by those who endorse such conceptions.

1. Members of NPD support forums usually come to the Internet with little or no prior knowledge of NPD, and they immediately encounter the writings of Vaknin, which are perhaps the most extensive writings on NPD by any single individual. With such a paucity of information, it is understandable that they form most of their ideas about NPD from his writings.

2. Sam Vaknin's claim that NPD is largely untreatable is supported by numerous mental health professionals. That is certainly not to say that ALL mental health professionals agree that it is "untreatable," but Vaknin is certainly not the only high-profile individual to espouse the belief. Many members of support forums have been told by their own therapists that NPDers do not usually change.

3. While this forum attracts NPD sufferers who are self-aware and want to heal, many victims come to support forums because the NPDer in their life is not self-aware and/or does not have an interest in therapy or true healing. Their attitude is colored by the fact that the only NPDer(s) they know is fully in the grip of his/her disorder.

4. At least at the forum I have participated in, quite a few of the members retained hope for people with NPD. In fact, many members of support forums still love or at least care about their NPDer, so they are highly motivated to hold out hope and look for signs of positive change. Again, I can't speak for other message boards, but at the one I actively read, much to the devastation of some of the members, their hopes were usually dashed--repeatedly. In fact, I hate to say it, but I don't think I can recall one instance in which the member's loved one actually made a lasting improvement. :sad: It is no surprise then that many of them have become cynical about the possibility of change. That is not to say that change isn't possible, but again, consider the community--these are people whose friends and relatives with NPD are not self-aware, are not interested in healing, and are not taking lasting steps toward change.

5. In many cases, when board members warn others to "give up" on an NPDer and "get out," this advice is truly in the best interest of the person in question. If an NPDer is willing to work toward change, that's another story. But as I said, most of the board members are not living with NPDers who want to change. In this case, it is certainly wiser for the other person to remove his/herself. Although an abandonment unfortunately reinforces the fears of the narcissist, no one should have to sacrifice their own mental health for the sake of another.

5. I know this will probably be controversial at this board, but people with NPD can and do engage in behaviors which are emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes even physically abusive to others while they are suffering from their disorder. The victims of this abuse are usually the people closest to the NPDer, those who love him or her the most, and the effects are devastating. Just because the deception, manipulation, degradation, devaluation, etc. is at the hands of a narcissistically disordered person does not make it any less abuse than the same actions from a person with some other disorder. Abuse is abuse. Furthermore, it is unfair and inaccurate to compare victims of such abuse to adults with "repressed memories" of childhood sexual abuse. At least at the board I have visited, the participants are recounting experiences that occurred during their adult lives and were always a part of their memories. Such an experience is not equivalent to a "recovered" episode purported to have occurred in one's childhood and to have been subsequently forgotten.

6. As far as the board I have read goes, I do not see either a victim mentality or blind support (in most cases) of Sam Vaknin's theories. Regarding the latter, on the contrary, a number of members at the board have mentioned from time to time that Samvak's perspective is surely colored by his disorder and must be considered in that light. Regarding the former, while I do think that some people become trapped in a victim mentality, I do not see that attitude predominating at the board I have visited. Yes, it is a forum for people who have experienced emotional and psychological abuse. But you know what? People who are recovering from abuse (any kind at all) often need a place to communicate with others who have been through the same ordeal. There is nothing wrong with that, whether the abuse was at the hands of a child molester, an alcoholic, a wife beater, a neglectful parent, or, yes, a spouse or other close relation who repeatedly inflicted emotional pain, whether or not that was their intent or the byproduct of a disorder. In fact, most experts agree that support forums are helpful for people who have been traumatized, no matter how or by whom. And while it is never good to reinvent one's identity as "abuse victim," it was my experience that by and large, the board members were still in the early stages of healing--and healing can take awhile. Some of the older board members had moved on and were not continuing to dwell on their own pasts as much as they were there to provide voices of experience for the newcomers. There is nothing wrong with that, either. I take offense at the suggestion that support board members just want attention or are posting to glorify themselves as the "chosen" of the narcissists. :rage: That's as uninformed as saying that rape victims feel "special" that their rapists forced themselves on them or that beaten women like to "brag" about their wounds. :argue: While it's true that many women are lured into relationships with abusive people because they know how to make the women feel special, I hardly think that anyone feels "special" after being devalued and discarded in the coldest way. In fact, I speak from experience when I say that it is a very humiliating and dehumanizing experience to be rejected in that sudden and emotionless way. :sad: Emotional abuse victims pour their hearts out to each other not to garner attention but because the feelings are bottled up, and they need to express them to those who will understand in the same way that NPDers here at the forum can vent and share with each other. Again, as long as one can eventually move beyond the venting, there is nothing wrong with that, and it may take awhile to get beyond this stage.

It's late at night, and I'm not very coherent, but the general message that I'm trying to communicate is that as much as some members of victim support boards villainize NPDers in an absolute way that they do not deserve, it is just as bad to indiscriminately villainize and dismiss people who have suffered due to the actions of NPDers. In fact, a number of you here have described in some detail the ways that you have hurt people before you started on your road to healing. Many of you yourselves have acknowledged that you are "victims" of NPDers--mothers and/or fathers with NPD who profoundly impacted your lives. Given that fact, it would seem absurd to deny that people with untreated NPD do not often have a vast and traumatizing influence on others.

I absolutely believe that healing is possible for those with NPD, but part of that healing process also has to involve learning how to empathize with others and accept responsibility for actions that have caused pain. Those who have lived with NPDers may have misconceptions, but in my experience, they are doing the best they can with what knowledge they have. I think it would be great if this board could be elemental in distributing more in depth knowledge about a long neglected aspect of NPD--the possibility of recovery. But the way to do it is not by denying the very real, damaging actions of people in the full blown stages of NPD.

That said, I am now hiding out in the fort preparing for the rest of you to attack me, but I hope you all know that I support the mission of this board and those who post here. :smile:
[1 edits; Last edit by pointofNoreturn at 07:24:15 Thu Jun 12 2003]

  
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zachery
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 12:17:41 ThuJun 12 2003 )

Let's stop and ask ourselves what would happen if myself or any other person suffering from npd posted a defense of ourselves and NPD in general on ANY victims community--most noteably a Vaknin site. Gee, my guess would be the post would be deleted; the "offending" party banned and it would kick off a period of re-victimization. Sadly this is not a theory, but proven fact. Can we see a hands of those with NPD who've lived this experience? :evil: There are many disturbing aspects of the victims boards which are not easy for the casual observer to see, let alone comprehend. I hope in the very near future some of that is brough to light. I'm more hopeful of that happening since the creation of this community then I've ever been in the past. Vaknin's inability to allow to give voice to those who are trying to heal is offensive and incredibly harmful. My best guess is this message will not be well received in this community but you should be thankful you were allowed to post it all. Of course I feel rather compelled to point out this post misses reality on a number of points.


Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



Nevertheless, I don't believe that that's an excuse to "blame the victim." While I sympathize very much with the plight of NPDers who face a scarcity of information and overt hostility, I've been downright angered with comments here likening members of support forums to mindless cult followers or hatemongerers. :fuming:


I take it from this comment that you are of a mindset that you are a victim of NPD, here is a major point where I disagree. Never forget the first and primary victim of this disorder is those of us who are NPD. Contrary to the myths promoted by many we are not evil and we are very human. In short we never asked for this disorder. Frankly, I am sick and tired of listening to anyone who is SO into THEIR own victimization that they have to take away our humanity. There are some who are members of this forum who understand this, many do not. The level of hate promoted on those boards is sickening. If NPD were a more socially acceptable cause we would have every civil liberties group howling over the way we are treated. Most of us are not asking for that we are only asking to be treated as human by the so-called normal people.:rage: The cult is real, less powerful then it was in its prime, yet the lasting effects will be around for a long, long time to come. I am just now beginning to learn the full extent of the cult and I suspect I will never know all that has happened/is happening. Perhaps this is for the better....


Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



1. Members of NPD support forums usually come to the Internet with little or no prior knowledge of NPD, and they immediately encounter the writings of Vaknin, which are perhaps the most extensive writings on NPD by any single individual. With such a paucity of information, it is understandable that they form most of their ideas about NPD from his writings.



That most people come to the internet with little or no understanding of NPD is one reason why the damage of Vaknin has been so significant. I'm of the belief that he would have been much better served spending years of hard work taking care of himself in private rather then turning NPD into a three ring circus, which is exactly what it has become. Complete with a traveling sideshow that comes into places even beyond the online NPD community. Keep in mind a couple of things. Vaknin is self-created. His book is at best simplistic, at worst incredibly damaging. Athena recently commented that is working to protect people from HIMSELF, for HIMSELF. Let there be no doubt in yours or anyone else's mind that this is ALL about Sammy. Again he would have been better served had he taken care of himself.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003




2. Sam Vaknin's claim that NPD is largely untreatable is supported by numerous mental health professionals. That is certainly not to say that ALL mental health professionals agree that it is "untreatable," but Vaknin is certainly not the only high-profile individual to espouse the belief. Many members of support forums have been told by their own therapists that NPDers do not usually change.


Let's see a hand of how many of us are working with therapists who are themselves NPD. I know of several in this forum and other places. It is really mindboggling to me that anyone can decide that they are uncurable and then basically call international attention to themselves over the fact that they are a pathological liar. I honestly don't begin to understand how anyone can take this stuff seriously. My only guess is that he is feeding your need to remain a victim by telling you how evil you are.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



3. While this forum attracts NPD sufferers who are self-aware and want to heal, many victims come to support forums because the NPDer in their life is not self-aware and/or does not have an interest in therapy or true healing. Their attitude is colored by the fact that the only NPDer(s) they know is fully in the grip of his/her disorder.


I actually agree with some of this, strangely enough. Now please share with us under what professional qualifications the diagnosis of NPD is being made in these cases? I'll be very honest and say this forums appeal to people who are looking for something . It sickens me to see the number of spouses and others who are so sure that the SO in their lives is NPD. Which leads to a process of stripping away their humanity. Let me ask you something. Do you even begin to have a clue how serious it is to call someone NPD? When was the last time that you saw a support group of people with any other illness (outside on or two other PD's) and rant and rage about the fact this other person has an illness that has never been diagnosed by a professional? The answer is it simply does not happen. It says far more to me about those who are regulars in such group then it does the person they are talking about. It might or might not be true that the person in their life is NPD. One thing I feel safe suggesting is that anyone who is NPD and comes across those sites is likely to be so negatively effected that they might never seek therapy.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003




4. At least at the forum I have participated in, quite a few of the members retained hope for people with NPD.


Please do share which forum that might as I'm not familar with any such place.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



5. In many cases, when board members warn others to "give up" on an NPDer and "get out," this advice is truly in the best interest of the person in question. If an NPDer is willing to work toward change, that's another story. But as I said, most of the board members are not living with NPDers who want to change. In this case, it is certainly wiser for the other person to remove his/herself. Although an abandonment unfortunately reinforces the fears of the narcissist, no one should have to sacrifice their own mental health for the sake of another.


Once again we are faced with the question of who says these people are NPD?. This is HUGE and cannot be talked about enough.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



5. I know this will probably be controversial at this board, but people with NPD can and do engage in behaviors which are emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes even physically abusive to others while they are suffering from their disorder.


Perhaps this is true, but it is very much of an under statement. Yet once more we must acknowledge that people suffering from NPD are in pain. They are living the only life they know how. What part of suffering do you not understand? Of course there is a issue that the so called victims rarely if ever are innocent victims who contribute nothing to the proble,s. The myth that they are is based exclusively on fiction.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



The victims of this abuse are usually the people closest to the NPDer, those who love him or her the most, and the effects are devastating. Just because the deception, manipulation, degradation, devaluation, etc. is at the hands of a narcissistically disordered person does not make it any less abuse than the same actions from a person with some other disorder. Abuse is abuse. Furthermore, it is unfair and inaccurate to compare victims of such abuse to adults with "repressed memories" of childhood sexual abuse. At least at the board I have visited, the participants are recounting experiences that occurred during their adult lives and were always a part of their memories. Such an experience is not equivalent to a "recovered" episode purported to have occurred in one's childhood and to have been subsequently forgotten.


I strongly disagree on a number of fronts but I will limit myself to just one. To be a victim in the sense that is most often portrayed in the NPD community suggests that somone is willfully and knowingly doing harm.

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



6. As far as the board I have read goes, I do not see either a victim mentality or blind support (in most cases) of Sam Vaknin's theories. ile to get beyond this stage.


Once again please share what board you are talking about as this has not been my experience. I see hero worship of someone who is so desperate for special treatment that he has created an internet community based on what a bad person he is.


Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003



That said, I am now hiding out in the fort preparing for the rest of you to attack me, but I hope you all know that I support the mission of this board and those who post here. :smile:


As I said in the beginning this message is disturbing on a number of scores. Once again just imagine what would happen if I posted my response to this on Vaknin site, assuming he would unban me long enough for that to happen :evillaugh:

Vaknin is a creation of the internet. I hope one day he stops talking long enough to heal though I honestly doubt that will ever take place:rolleyes:
[1 edits; Last edit by zachery at 12:20:46 Thu Jun 12 2003]

  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 14:07:59 ThuJun 12 2003 )

I second Zachery's assessment that Pointofnoreturn is benefiting from a right to speak her mind on this forum that is rarely if ever experienced by those with NPD on the so-called victims boards. I've come to the conclusion that Vaknin is a deeply wounded man who is actually somewhat pathetic in the way he avoids his real issues.

Zachery pretty much covered the basics. The only thing I can add is that my discomfort and anger goes well beyond the forums. There are now many so-called victims forums that Sam has no formal connection (or so they say) yet his influence is felt in a very deep level. My discomfort is with the overall message that Vaknin is putting out. The only comfort I find is that Vaknin is indeed a creation of the internet and many of the professionals working in the field have never even heard of him. The downside is that they are largely unaware of the sideshow that zachery talks about.

Other then that this topic has been covered and re-covered to the point I'm sick of it. Athena summed the whole victimization thing up beatifully with her assessment that many of the people on these board have their own narcissism that they are not dealing wiht. Frankly we are not here to debate Vaknin, rather we are here to heal our wounds. Some of which have been worsened by the environment which Sam and others have created. So let's get back to the basics of healing, shall we?:crazy:

  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 22:40:30 ThuJun 12 2003 )

Gonna go out on a limb here, guys:

I understand and relate to some of pointofnoreturns post (although my experiences on other boards were not often as positive as hers, it wasn't NEVER so). Although lacking in direct symapthy for the sufferer, it (her post) was, I think, less about the Vaknin boards and more a plea for understanding from (NPD)Sufferers - a lack of which can certainly create a kind of appeal in those places.

Although I have never been the object of direct (or any, as far as I know) scorn for my "victim" status here, I do wince sometimes when I see an almost-equal amount of ill-will toward "victims" here as I have on those "other" boards toward NPDers.

In short, I'd like to remind EVERYONE that we're ALL hurting - and this isn't a competition where the prizes goes to the ones who suffer most. NO ONE, neither Sufferers or Victims, asked for any of this. We need to support each other if we truly want positive change.

I've enjoyed my time here and have been delighted to have a place to post a "REALLY GOOD PROGRESS REPORT" where it can be appreciated, instead of receiveing a dire "you'll be sorry" warning. But I do feel, as a very concerned and loving wife of an (PROBABLE - NOT DIAGNOSED) NPD sufferer, that the anger volume here could be turned down just a tad. (outright flamers and distorted types like notalotofpitye and you-know-who aside - give 'em hell)

Personally, I hate those sites - they suck thge life right out of me - but I can understand why they can be useful for a BRIEF period. At least it's better than having them vent here. And no, I did not feel that pointofnoreturn was venting, merely that she was concerned about what she felt to be a lop-sided view. I may not agree with everything she (or anyone else) has to say, her presentation was not an accusation of any sort, merely her opinion.

I would, however, like to hear pointofnoreturns spin on the habitual drama queens/kings - some of the posters I've encountered on other boards are on a kind of permanent pathology coaster of their own...As I've said before, rarely do stable people enter into or stay long in relationships with disordered people - self included.

Athena

  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 23:47:36 ThuJun 12 2003 )

Athena, am in almost 100% accordance with your views.


  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 14:11:57 FriJun 13 2003 )

I have come to have a lot of respect for athenathinks and some of the other family members who participate here, but I must strongly disagree with her on a couple of points.

I believe deep inside that if these forums are unhealthy at all, which I do, than they are never the healthy place that some want to believe they are. I think everyone's chances of healing are better if they avoid wallowing in victimization right from day one. My sense is there are a lot of people who are searching and not finding what they are looking for in these forums and I do see that as a remote sign of hope.

My reaction to this is that it is a flame .Chances are good that those of us who are NPD will see it that way. Zachery is right that there is no chance this would be allowed in the other forums if one of us wrote something defending the humaness of those with NPD. Zach has for a show of hands of those who've been banned from one of those forums because we believe in healing. :wave: I'm one of those folks.

A while back I almost gagged when an unregistered guest posted that we have to keep these forums open to the so-called victims in order to maintain the intergrity of this place, otherwise we risk becoming a mutual admiration society. What a freaking joke! ALL of the so-called victims boards have been a mutual admiration society from day one. I support guests being here, but only if they are one-thousand and fifty percent committed to healing. There role is no by no stretch of the imagination to serve as a watchdog.



  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 15:06:30 FriJun 13 2003 )

Quote: athenathinks at 22:40:30 Thu Jun 12 2003

Personally, I hate those sites - they suck thge life right out of me - but I can understand why they can be useful for a BRIEF period. At least it's better than having them vent here.
Athena


I agree that those who are hurt by someone with NPD, or anyone, needs to vent for a while and that at some point you have to move beyond that phase in order to heal yourself. I don't see Athena's post as a flame, but I want to add my thoughts on this.

I think that people going through this phase - where they are not yet able to see both sides of the story - should limit themselves to those "victims" forums, rather than come to a forum where NPDers ARE trying to get better. I think that most of us DO realize that we have hurt other people, or else we wouldn't be here. Just because we don't talk about it all the time or nail ourselves to a cross like Vaknin doesn't mean we aren't aware of it. There are a lot of shame issues involved.

Those of us with NPD are most definitely victims of abuse, to the point where we have been more or less permanently damaged, and we were victimized at a time in our lives when there was no escape except to retreat into a fantasy world. Many of us were victimized by NPD parents. We didn't put ourselves into the situation, and we couldn't move out, or get a divorce from our parents, unlike most of our so-called "victims".

I remember making a conscience decision as a child that I could never allow myself to be hurt again. This was the only way to survive the insanity that was going on around me, and I am therefore ultra-sensitive to anything that feels like abuse. We have an open wound that we are trying to heal. MORE ABUSE WILL NOT HELP US TO HEAL IT. WE NEED TO FEEL SAFE HERE in order to work on our issues. This is something that those who are in "victim" mode do not understand. I do believe that most of our non-NPD members, such as athenathinks, do understand this. Those "victims" who still feel the need to lash out should avoid posting here until they do, as they are sabotaging our recovery.


  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 15:58:06 FriJun 13 2003 )




We are lucky enough on this forum to have many family members who have been beyond the need to be labeled victims and they are very important parts of this community .athenathinks is certainly one such person and there are a growing number of others.:smile:


Quote: CoolBlonde at [unixtime

1055516790]

I think that most of us DO realize that we have hurt other people, or else we wouldn't be here. Just because we don't talk about it all the time or nail ourselves to a cross like Vaknin doesn't mean we aren't aware of it. There are a lot of shame issues involved.


I couldn't agree more. It simply is not realistic for anyone to expect us to sit around and discuss how evil and how sorry we are for doing what we have done to others. Long before those kinds of issues have to be addressed comes the reality that we have to address a lot of painful issues that we have been with us for our entire life. Shame is a HUGE issue for me and most others suffering from NPD. Andrew Morrison wrote about this in his book Shame: The Under Side of Narcissism.

Quote: CoolBlonde at [unixtime

1055516790]

Those of us with NPD are most definitely victims of abuse, to the point where we have been more or less permanently damaged, and we were victimized at a time in our lives when there was no escape except to retreat into a fantasy world. Many of us were victimized by NPD parents. We didn't put ourselves into the situation, and we couldn't move out, or get a divorce from our parents, unlike most of our so-called "victims".


This is a very important message that everyone who feels they are a victim needs to read a couple of times. The emotional flows here and it cuts to a deep truth about NPD.


Quote: CoolBlonde at [unixtime

1055516790]


I remember making a conscience decision as a child that I could never allow myself to be hurt again. This was the only way to survive the insanity that was going on around me, and I am therefore ultra-sensitive to anything that feels like abuse.


I don't remember making this decision. Most of my life has been spent denying that anything or anyone ever has or ever could hurt me. One day my therapist commented that he knew I was afraid to love or to trust because at a very early age I tried to do these things and got hurt bad. To this day I cannot say for sure everything that rests in the dark corners of my wounds. In many cases I have an idea, but will likely never be able to say what it is. The end result of course being that I am right now trying to learn the emotions and skills that were not offered the first time around.

Quote: CoolBlonde at [unixtime

1055516790]
We have an open wound that we are trying to heal. MORE ABUSE WILL NOT HELP US TO HEAL IT. WE NEED TO FEEL SAFE HERE in order to work on our issues. This is something that those who are in "victim" mode do not understand.


This says it perfectly and it is very unfortunate that people who complain about our lack of empathy or inability to feel things do not comprehend this realtiy.

Quote: CoolBlonde at [unixtime

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I do believe that most of our non-NPD members, such as athenathinks, do understand this. Those "victims" who still feel the need to lash out should avoid posting here until they do, as they are sabotaging our recovery.


I agree. I have said this many times and it appears I will have to keep saying it. This forum is for those who are committed to healing the wounds of NPD. Hatred and prejudice aganist those of us with this disorder is NOT healing and will not be tolerated, period, end of discussion on this point. I will also say that there are other factors which can sabotage our healing process which might not have anything to do with victims or the wider NPD issue. If you are here to play games and engage in any sabotage of anyone's healing then I will be very honest and say you are in the wrong place. This does not apply to the large majority of our members or guests. Now back to the work of healing.




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You do not need to be loved, not at the cost of yourself. The single relationship that is truly central and crucial in a life is the relationship to the self . .. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime , you are the only one you will never lose.

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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 00:14:46 SatJun 14 2003 )

Quote: pointofNoreturn at 07:15:27 Thu Jun 12 2003

Now I have only participated in one Vaknin forum, and I know there are others, so I can't speak for them all.


Actually there is only ONE Vaknin forum, at Suite101. He is a token moderator of one other, but he only deletes the occasional out of line post and does not, at either site, join in or begin discussions, like TC does here. He has not been interactive with any group whatsoever in 3 years. I have heard that he doesn't even really write anyone in the community privately like he used to when he had his first discussion group.

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However, as far as my own experience is concerned, I believe there are a number of misconceptions here about "victim communities." I understand that Vaknin sites are probably very discouraging to those diagnosed with NPD and rightly so--I can imagine that anyone faced with a constant barage of negative comments about their prognosis would be upset. Nevertheless, I don't believe that that's an excuse to "blame the victim."


I agree

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While I sympathize very much with the plight of NPDers who face a scarcity of information and overt hostility, I've been downright angered with comments here likening members of support forums to mindless cult followers or hatemongerers. :fuming: Therefore, I want to present a list of issues to be considered by those who endorse such conceptions.


Thank you for doing so and giving this issue some more balanced coverage.

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1. Members of NPD support forums usually come to the Internet with little or no prior knowledge of NPD, and they immediately encounter the writings of Vaknin, which are perhaps the most extensive writings on NPD by any single individual. With such a paucity of information, it is understandable that they form most of their ideas about NPD from his writings.


I find it baffling that people continue to belive that Sam created all of his book out of whole cloth, dreamed the entire thing up in his head. While he did create (I think) the phrase Narcissistic Supply and while he did create ways to understand some typical narcissistic behavior, 90+ of the substance of the book is totally from other books, other authors, even if the book as it exists online is not footnoted as I suspect his paperbound book must be.

What Sam says is merely his rewording of what OTHERS, leading therapists and leading thinkers say about NPD and those known as narcissists.

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2. Sam Vaknin's claim that NPD is largely untreatable is supported by numerous mental health professionals. That is certainly not to say that ALL mental health professionals agree that it is "untreatable," but Vaknin is certainly not the only high-profile individual to espouse the belief. Many members of support forums have been told by their own therapists that NPDers do not usually change.


If one considers the bibliography of his book, you will see why the original book (what is now termed the essay), you will see that the books he found in the prison library were moderately out of date. Since he arrived on the net and has continued to read, both books and journals, he has added to and modified his thought. Regardless, the vast majority of all therapists, no matter whether social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, et al, continue to see NPD as not being treatable, just as most of the same groups continue to see Borderline as being untreatable.

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3. While this forum attracts NPD sufferers who are self-aware and want to heal, many victims come to support forums because the NPDer in their life is not self-aware and/or does not have an interest in therapy or true healing. Their attitude is colored by the fact that the only NPDer(s) they know is fully in the grip of his/her disorder.


This is true. Most are exactly in the condition you have described, or if they admit their problem at some point in time, they either begin to use it as a new manipulative bargaining chip of "poor me" or they do a 180 and deny it completely.

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4. At least at the forum I have participated in, quite a few of the members retained hope for people with NPD. In fact, many members of support forums still love or at least care about their NPDer, so they are highly motivated to hold out hope and look for signs of positive change. Again, I can't speak for other message boards, but at the one I actively read, much to the devastation of some of the members, their hopes were usually dashed--repeatedly. In fact, I hate to say it, but I don't think I can recall one instance in which the member's loved one actually made a lasting improvement. :sad:


So true and this is at the heart of describing what is "wrong" with victims, that they are stuck in cognitive dissonance and will return to the abuser, putting themselves in harm's way, again and again. That part of it is their disease if you can call it that. It seems that their childhoods made them vulnerable to becoming attached to people without love or empathy to give to others.

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It is no surprise then that many of them have become cynical about the possibility of change. That is not to say that change isn't possible, but again, consider the community--these are people whose friends and relatives with NPD are not self-aware, are not interested in healing, and are not taking lasting steps toward change.


Part of healing IS becoming cynical that their relationships will not change. It is the only chance they have to eventually leave the relationship. And leave they must. Or continue slowly dying.

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5. In many cases, when board members warn others to "give up" on an NPDer and "get out," this advice is truly in the best interest of the person in question. If an NPDer is willing to work toward change, that's another story. But as I said, most of the board members are not living with NPDers who want to change. In this case, it is certainly wiser for the other person to remove his/herself. Although an abandonment unfortunately reinforces the fears of the narcissist, no one should have to sacrifice their own mental health for the sake of another.


Perfectly said.

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6. I know this will probably be controversial at this board, but people with NPD can and do engage in behaviors which are emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes even physically abusive to others while they are suffering from their disorder.

The victims of this abuse are usually the people closest to the NPDer, those who love him or her the most, and the effects are devastating. Just because the deception, manipulation, degradation, devaluation, etc. is at the hands of a narcissistically disordered person does not make it any less abuse than the same actions from a person with some other disorder.

Abuse is abuse.

Furthermore, it is unfair and inaccurate to compare victims of such abuse to adults with "repressed memories" of childhood sexual abuse. At least at the board I have visited, the participants are recounting experiences that occurred during their adult lives and were always a part of their memories. Such an experience is not equivalent to a "recovered" episode purported to have occurred in one's childhood and to have been subsequently forgotten.


This is so true that no further comment is necessary, but I will add that validation, support and constantly battling against cognitive dissonance is the function of any skilled therapist or support group for the abused.

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6. As far as the board I have read goes, I do not see either a victim mentality or blind support (in most cases) of Sam Vaknin's theories. Regarding the latter, on the contrary, a number of members at the board have mentioned from time to time that Samvak's perspective is surely colored by his disorder and must be considered in that light.

Regarding the former, while I do think that some people become trapped in a victim mentality, I do not see that attitude predominating at the board I have visited. Yes, it is a forum for people who have experienced emotional and psychological abuse. But you know what? People who are recovering from abuse (any kind at all) often need a place to communicate with others who have been through the same ordeal. There is nothing wrong with that, whether the abuse was at the hands of a child molester, an alcoholic, a wife beater, a neglectful parent, or, yes, a spouse or other close relation who repeatedly inflicted emotional pain, whether or not that was their intent or the byproduct of a disorder.

In fact, most experts agree that support forums are helpful for people who have been traumatized, no matter how or by whom. And while it is never good to reinvent one's identity as "abuse victim," it was my experience that by and large, the board members were still in the early stages of healing--and healing can take awhile.

Some of the older board members had moved on and were not continuing to dwell on their own pasts as much as they were there to provide voices of experience for the newcomers. There is nothing wrong with that, either.

I take offense at the suggestion that support board members just want attention or are posting to glorify themselves as the "chosen" of the narcissists. :rage: That's as uninformed as saying that rape victims feel "special" that their rapists forced themselves on them or that beaten women like to "brag" about their wounds. :argue:

While it's true that many women are lured into relationships with abusive people because they know how to make the women feel special, I hardly think that anyone feels "special" after being devalued and discarded in the coldest way. In fact, I speak from experience when I say that it is a very humiliating and dehumanizing experience to be rejected in that sudden and emotionless way. :sad:

Emotional abuse victims pour their hearts out to each other not to garner attention but because the feelings are bottled up, and they need to express them to those who will understand in the same way that NPDers here at the forum can vent and share with each other.

Again, as long as one can eventually move beyond the venting, there is nothing wrong with that, and it may take awhile to get beyond this stage.


This rebuttal is a worthy one and, in my opinion, a rightous one.

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I'm trying to communicate is that as much as some members of victim support boards villainize NPDers in an absolute way that they do not deserve, it is just as bad to indiscriminately villainize and dismiss people who have suffered due to the actions of NPDers. In fact, a number of you here have described in some detail the ways that you have hurt people before you started on your road to healing.

Many of you yourselves have acknowledged that you are "victims" of NPDers--mothers and/or fathers with NPD who profoundly impacted your lives. Given that fact, it would seem absurd to deny that people with untreated NPD do not often have a vast and traumatizing influence on others.


I am glad you are able to see that, too.

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I absolutely believe that healing is possible for those with NPD, but part of that healing process also has to involve learning how to empathize with others and accept responsibility for actions that have caused pain.

Those who have lived with NPDers may have misconceptions, but in my experience, they are doing the best they can with what knowledge they have. I think it would be great if this board could be elemental in distributing more in depth knowledge about a long neglected aspect of NPD--the possibility of recovery. But the way to do it is not by denying the very real, damaging actions of people in the full blown stages of NPD.


Good summation. I give this essay an A+ for form and substance.

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That said, I am now hiding out in the fort preparing for the rest of you to attack me, but I hope you all know that I support the mission of this board and those who post here. :smile:


Don't worry if you are drubbed some as Narcissists have very thin skins and will fight with those who don't see things the same way that they do. Your position is very moderate, truthful and not at all flammatory.

Finally, I would like to point out that only in the first year or two of NPD victim support groups was the emphasis in those groups on what Sam says. Since those early days, the vast majority of input has been in areas dealing with abuse in general and the various forms of abuse, in codependency, in ptsd and the physical illnesses caused by long-term emotional strain under endless abuse, etc, etc, as well as loads of material about healing.

Even people like ******, a member here, did all her healing in therapy and offline tells us that she cried for years. Yes, support forums can somtimes evolve into unhealthy places, but they are free and they are all run by amateurs in online healing. One might say that you get what you pay for.

But I need to point out that not only has the medical community and therapy community has come to not only accept free support groups as inevitable, but repeated scientific studies have found them to be a positive experience and sometimes even needed for those who cannot find a support group where they live.

a friend
(moderator's note: this message has been edited as our guest chose to post the name of a member in this forum who has made it clear to me she does not wish to be so identified. As has been stated many times guests continued posting here is subject to being able to live within the same guidelines as members. The rest of this message has been addressed many times over.)
[1 edits; Last edit by TcBrown at 00:53:14 Sat Jun 14 2003]

  
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Re: A word on Sam Vaknin forums ( 07:39:35 SatJun 14 2003 )

Hi Zachery,

I don't quite have the knack of doing the "reply-quote" thing on this board yet, so I just did a cut and paste on some of your comments.

First of all, you start off your post by claiming that an NPDer would be kicked off a Vaknin site. I don't know how often this occurs and did not notice it occuring at the site I was involved in during the several months that I was reading heavily (I continue to read about once a week). There were a couple of members who claimed to be suffering from NPD during the time that I was there. One wanted help, and the other board members were largely encouraging toward him. I don't recall anyone being impolite to him or deleting any of his posts. The other was a young man who often had many strange, almost bizarre comments to make, and while a few people urged him to rethink the wisdom of some of his actions, there was also no one who was impolite to him. Considering the controversial nature of some of his posts, that almost surprised me a little.

Yes, I agree that it's great that this is an open forum where people can discuss their opinions without having their posts censored or deleted. Again, I did not notice censorship at the board I was on, although that doesn't mean it had never happened there in the past.

"There are many disturbing aspects of the victims boards which are not easy for the casual observer to see, let alone comprehend."

I'm not sure if you're trying to imply that I was just a casual observer. I did read and respond to the messages every day for quite awhile and read a number of back posts, as well.

"Vaknin's inability to allow to give voice to those who are trying to heal is offensive and incredibly harmful. My best guess is this message will not be well received in this community but you should be thankful you were allowed to post it all."

Again, since there were a few acknowledged NPDers on the board I visited, I can't say that this is accurate. I don't think that I should have to be "thankful" that I was allowed to post here. I don't agree with censorship of any form, on any site. There should be no reason why dissent at any forum is not allowed as long as it is done so with courtesy. I don't think there was anything impolite or vulgar about my post.

"Never forget the first and primary victim of this disorder is those of us who are NPD. Contrary to the myths promoted by many we are not evil and we are very human. In short we never asked for this disorder. Frankly, I am sick and tired of listening to anyone who is SO into THEIR own victimization that they have to take away our humanity."

You will notice that I never contradicted this. Throughout my post, I spoke of "people suffering from NPD," not inhuman monsters. I also noted in my second to last paragraph that NPDers are also victims, often of their own parents. I don't think people with NPD are evil. I don't think they are inhuman. What I said was that, in the grip of their disorder, they often do emotionally abusive things to people. In the grip of their disorder, many alcoholics, wife or child beaters, neglectful parents, etc. do abusive things to others, as well. Neither does that make any of these people less than human. But their actions are still abusive.

"Let's see a hand of how many of us are working with therapists who are themselves NPD. I know of several in this forum and other places."

I'm sure there are a few therapists out there who have or continue to struggle with mental disorders. To say that all mental health professionals are totally free of disorders would be silly and illogical. But I think it is equally illogical to say that the numerous therapists who believe that NPD is untreatable (or only treatable with great difficulty) all have NPD themselves.

"I honestly don't begin to understand how anyone can take this stuff seriously. My only guess is that he is feeding your need to remain a victim by telling you how evil you are. "

Now you are just supposing things about me without any factual knowledge. I do not feel a need to remain a victim, nor do I feel "evil." The fact that you "don't begin to understand how anyone can take this stuff seriously" is your opinion, and you have a right to it. I take some of it seriously because it is supported by my experience and that of others. I do not, however, take Vaknin's word as law. Of course, this is my opinion, and I also have a right to it.

"Now please share with us under what professional qualifications the diagnosis of NPD is being made in these cases?"

I don't happen to be of the belief that one needs a concrete diagnosis from a mental health professional in order to recognize a problem. After all, that's how most people end up in therapy--either the individual in question or someone close to them recognizes a problem. Sure, there are probably some people on these sites who have mistakenly "diagnosed" individuals in their lives with NPD. It is also true, however, that many mental problems, including depression, phobias, substance abuse, and schizophrenia, can be recognized even by lay people. Of course they are not qualified to make an official diagnosis. Nevertheless, there are certain behavioral patterns that make such problems fairly obvious to those who know the individual well. I allege that personality disorders are also recognizable, although I realize that that is not equivalent to an offical, "for the record" diagnosis. Just so you know, there actually were/are some members at the site whose significant others had been officially diagnosed NPD.

"Let me ask you something. Do you even begin to have a clue how serious it is to call someone NPD?"

Mental health disorders are serious matters. What in my post makes you think that I do not consider it serious?

"When was the last time that you saw a support group of people with any other illness (outside on or two other PD's) and rant and rage about the fact this other person has an illness that has never been diagnosed by a professional? The answer is it simply does not happen."

Admittedly, I have not read online support groups for friends or loved ones of people with other sorts of mental disorders, so I cannot address that question. If I had to guess, I would suppose that the nature of how NPD and some of the other personality disorders manifest themselves would be the reason that you have not seen it. Unfortunately, the nature of personality disorders often makes those who suffer from them less "sympathetic" to the average person than, say, someone suffering from depression or schizophrenia. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it may account for some of what you see.

"One thing I feel safe suggesting is that anyone who is NPD and comes across those sites is likely to be so negatively effected that they might never seek therapy."

This really is a shame, and that's why it's good to have a site like this one. The one caveat I would add is that the Vaknin board I have visited was not really intended for NPDers themselves but as a forum for those who have had contact with them to vent and share. However, it is understandable that an NPDer might read it and be very put off.

"Please do share which forum that might as I'm not familar with any such place."

The forum I have visited is at Suite101. I understand that there are larger ones at MSN and Yahoo, but I have never checked them out. People come and go from these types of boards, but while I have been reading it, I have noticed quite a few people questioning again and again if this time their NPDer's promise to change could be real and hoping against hope that maybe this time would be the time he/she actually turned around.

"Once again we are faced with the question of who says these people are NPD?. This is HUGE and cannot be talked about enough."

An important focus of the Suite101 forum is supporting women who are being mistreated in a relationship with anyone, NPD or not. In fact, several times a new member has shared details of an abusive relationship, and others have acknowledged that whether or not the individual in question has NPD is not the issue. The issue is that people should not remain in relationships in which they are being mistreated. Again, my point stands--no one should sacrifice their own mental health for the sake of another. It doesn't matter what diagnosis the individual does or does not have.

"Perhaps this is true, but it is very much of an under statement. Yet once more we must acknowledge that people suffering from NPD are in pain. They are living the only life they know how."

I do believe this to be absolutely true. However, just because someone is in pain and reacting to that pain in the only way they know how does not mean their actions are not harmful to others, sometimes extremely so. Consider an extreme example, that of serial killers. These people are also in extreme pain. They are usually people who were severely abused, often by their own parents, in childhood. If not overtly abused, they often had no one to bond with in infancy, which is terribly detrimental to a young child. This is horrible, terrible pain. By the same account, you cannot excuse their urge to murder people in later life just because they are suffering. I'm not saying that the lies and manipulative behavior of some NPDers is tantamount to murder; obviously, it's not. However, the principle is applicable--being in pain does not negate the harmful consequences of acting out that pain nor does it absolve the one in pain from any responsibility for their actions.

"What part of suffering do you not understand?"

Talking down to me certainly is not proving your point.

"Of course there is a issue that the so called victims rarely if ever are innocent victims who contribute nothing to the proble,s. The myth that they are is based exclusively on fiction."

And you know this how exactly? I wonder if you also believe that victims of rape "ask for it" or that wife beaters are excused in beating their wives because they need to vent their frustration somehow. Are these victims also myths? I don't know on what you base the statement that victims of emotional/psychological abuse are a "myth" or a "fiction." I said it before, and I'll say it again, whether the emotional abuser has NPD or not is not really the issue. Emotional abuse is emotional abuse, and no one deserves that. And, yes, the fallout of emotional abuse is the same, whether it is from someone with NPD or someone else.

"To be a victim in the sense that is most often portrayed in the NPD community suggests that somone is willfully and knowingly doing harm. "

Whether NPDers willfully and knowingly do harm is subject to debate. Perhaps you do not feel that you do yourself, but certainly all people with NPD are individuals. They are not made with cookie cutters. I won't debate with you whether or not "most" NPDers or "only a few" NPDers or even "any" NPDers do harm willfully and knowingly. But I would again refer to my previous metaphor concerning other disorders. Many alcoholics are so drunk that when they lash out physically at their families, they don't know what they're doing. Many cold-blooded killers are so delusional in their thinking that they also, in a way, have no idea what they're doing. However, this doesn't mean that their "victims" are not victims.

"As I said in the beginning this message is disturbing on a number of scores. Once again just imagine what would happen if I posted my response to this on Vaknin site, assuming he would unban me long enough for that to happen"

Once more, I have not seen anyone banned while I have been reading Suite101's message board. I myself have posted some "controversial" messages in support of possible healing for NPD, and I have not been banned. I can't speak to what may have happened in the past or in the posts I have not read since it's impossible to read every one of them.

"Vaknin is a creation of the internet. I hope one day he stops talking long enough to heal though I honestly doubt that will ever take place"

I also hope he will heal, and I also doubt that he will because he is convinced that he cannot and doesn't want to.

Thank you for responding to my post, although I continue to stand behind everything that I said. As you find my post disturbing, I also find yours so because I don't see any willingness to empathize with those who are hurt by the actions of NPDers, and that is something I find disturbing. I have acknowledged the hurt that NPDers have suffered, but there does not seem to be any reciprocity in acknowledging the hurt that others suffer due to the actions of some NPDers.

I wish you the best on your healing journey.




























  
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