Most of us value things such as honesty, generosity and authenticity. These are the kinds of qualities we seek and admire in friends, family members and romantic partners.
People who are high on the narcissistic spectrum, however, scorn such things. They may say they value them, but their actions speak louder than words. Pay attention to what they do, not what they say.
When you find yourself confounded and confused by the behaviour of a narcissist, it may be because the things they hold in contempt are the things you value. In her comprehensive, practical and supremely helpful book “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free,” author, editor and narcissistic abuse recovery advocate Julie L. Hall writes:
“The bottom line is that narcissists nearly inevitably reach a point of contempt about everyone and everything. If that sounds extreme, consider a dictionary definition of contempt: ‘the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving of scorn. Ultimately, virtually nothing and no one is spared the narcissist’s cynical contempt.”
Hall goes on to list these twelve things specifically:
- The truth, which they fear and work to deny, dismiss and deform, often lying pathologically about anything and everything whether they “need” to or not
- Trust, which they violate by cheating, lying (by commission and omission), and also use to manipulate others
- Authenticity, which threatens their facade and the multiple masks they often hide behind
- Honesty, which they avoid by lying, omitting facts and information, and failing to give context to what they say
- Responsibility, which they often abdicate completely and/or deflect onto others all while blaming others and the world for problems they themselves have created
- Love, which they do not consistently feel but use as a weapon again those who do, especially those who love them or are close to them
- Remorse, which they do not feel but see as a weakness in others that they can exploit for their own nefarious purposes
- Forgiveness, which they regard as admitting fault and giving others power
- Generosity, which threatens their primitive selfishness
- Kindness, which they see as insincere or weak
- Language, which they twist and distort and use to manipulate and gaslight
- Accuracy, which threatens their self-protective distortions of reality; they will completely ignore the facts in favour of their own fantasies
I would add a thirteenth to Hall’s list: YOU!
If you are involved with a narcissist for any length of time, particularly as a spouse or intimate partner, you will eventually become an object of their contempt. This usually becomes evident during the devaluation and discard phases of the cycle of emotional abuse. Remember: it’s not about you. It’s all about them.
I highly recommend Hall’s book for anyone who was raised in a narcissistic family system (as I was), and/or who is or has been in a relationship with someone who is high on the narcissistic spectrum – yes, I’ve been there too! This book is proving to be an invaluable tool in my own ongoing healing process as is Hall’s blog narcissistfamilyfiles.com.
© 2020 Susan Macaulay. I invite you to share my poetry and posts widely, but please do not reprint, reblog or copy and paste them in their entirety without my permission. Thank you.