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"A Generational Pathology"

Absurdity

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A very long but excellent post on narcissism by the Last Psychiatrist blew my mind today so I felt like sharing.

The narcissist feels unhappy because he thinks his life isn't as it should be, or things are going wrong; but all of those feelings find origin in frustration, a specific frustration: the inability to love the other person.

He's a man in a glass box, unable to connect. He thinks the problem is people don't like him, or not enough, so he exerts massive energy into the creation and maintenance of an identity: if they think of me as X...

But that attempt is always futile, not because you can't trick the other person-- you can, for an entire lifetime, it's quite easy. But even then, the man in the box is still unsatisfied, still frustrated, because no amount of identity maintenance will break that glass box.

If the other person is also in a glass box, then you have a serious problem. If everyone is in their own glass box, well, then you have America.
 

r4ch3l

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Word word word. I've done quite a bit of research on NPD/BPD and how these types tend to be attracted to one another (good generic overview), usually because of a personality-disordered parent. Post-WWII generation seems to be the first iteration of a predominantly-personality-disordered population. Children of this group often(usually?) meet NPD and BPD criteria. BPD is a pandemic in women around my age because BPDs tend to end up endangering their own lives whereas NPDs take over the world (and go undiagnosed). At their core they are virtually the same.

We live in a hyperstimulated and fragmented world where being armored is rational. It seems to take forgetting/disregarding "common sense" and losing any guarantees of identity etc. to break free of it. We settle for moments of this feeling and settle back into reality when the weekend is over. Maybe you have to walk through the psychotic break to tear it all down and reabuild...you can understand something intellectually and it still does not really change anything internally...
 

Jennywocky

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Yes, the biggest problem with constructing an image is that you're even in worse shape while you might feel better on the surface: The image everyone loves is not you, so none of the kudos and attachments really belong to you, and if you throw out the image to be yourself, you lose everything attached to the image. So you have just tightened the screws further on yourself and made your own life more painful and difficult, even while you thought you were making it easier.

Socially, of course, you get a bunch of people who only interact through their images, so no one really knows anyone else. Our images just know other people's images. Community becomes illusory.
 

Absurdity

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Who is the last Pyschiatrist?

Is this a trick question?

Yes, the biggest problem with constructing an image is that you're even in worse shape while you might feel better on the surface: The image everyone loves is not you, so none of the kudos and attachments really belong to you, and if you throw out the image to be yourself, you lose everything attached to the image. So you have just tightened the screws further on yourself and made your own life more painful and difficult, even while you thought you were making it easier.

Socially, of course, you get a bunch of people who only interact through their images, so no one really knows anyone else. Our images just know other people's images. Community becomes illusory.

Another effect I am realizing is that my narcissism gets in the way of my creativity. I get so wrapped up in envisioning the effect that a certain project will have on my image that I stop thinking about the actual mechanics of what I am working on.

We live in a hyperstimulated and fragmented world where being armored is rational. It seems to take forgetting/disregarding "common sense" and losing any guarantees of identity etc. to break free of it. We settle for moments of this feeling and settle back into reality when the weekend is over. Maybe you have to walk through the psychotic break to tear it all down and reabuild...you can understand something intellectually and it still does not really change anything internally...

The bolded is where I'm at right now. There are a lot of comments at the end of the article where people ask the author how they're supposed to shatter their glass box, and I was left thinking the same thing. Of course there is a lot of truth to what you say in rational armoring of the psyche...

Anyone know where I can order a do-it-yourself psychotic meltdown kit?
 

paradoxparadigm7

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The bolded is where I'm at right now. There are a lot of comments at the end of the article where people ask the author how they're supposed to shatter their glass box, and I was left thinking the same thing. Of course there is a lot of truth to what you say in rational armoring of the psyche...

Anyone know where I can order a do-it-yourself psychotic meltdown kit?

The article generalizes and describes the problem. You can't 'break through' with generalities or insights but rather through your real life. Since this is a relational issue, look to your relationships to get at the specifics. How are you acting this out in your relationships? Once you're able to align your difficulties to your reality, then comes the hard part. You have to take a leap of faith in yourself without any guarantees or expectations. You have to DO some scary shit (this being what you identified in real life that keeps you in your box). It's an issue of self validation (rather then seeking validation from others through self-presentation). The important things to keep in mind are:
*The ability to be clear about who you are and what you're about, especially when important others pressures you to adapt and conform.
*Being able to calm yourself down, soothe your own hurts and regulate your own anxieties.
*Ability to stay calm and not overreact, rather than creating distance or running away when important people in your life get anxious or upset.
*Being able to tolerate discomfort for the sake of growth.

As an aside, I don't find labels such as narcissism helpful. In fact what this article seems to be describing is not outside of the norm. This is a normal developmental process that everyone gets challenged by. It's the perpetual human problem of balancing both connection and autonomy. It's our own path to true interdependence that requires emotionally distinct people.

I'll give an example to help clarify: I have struggled with my mother and her influence on me for most of my adult life. Almost as if I were an extension of her. I found I tried to break free of this by moving away, keeping my distance or the opposite...trying very hard to be what she wants me to be or at least presenting myself that way to her. Inside I felt like a fake. I was either trying to please her or rebelling. Both of which are my attempts to break away and be my own person. This was my glass box. I withheld the real me because I was afraid that she'd be disappointed in who I really am. However no amount of validation from her was enough because she didn't know the real me. I didn't have the courage to show the real me. When I got to a place where I started to believe in myself, I took a stand (NOT TO HER) but a stand with myself in front of her. It was as if I was challenging MYSELF to have the courage to be me without over reaction. Just a firm, 'this is who I am and I like me. I'm not even looking for your validation because I choose to validate myself" kind of stand. It's a paradigm shift!

This is only one example and how your issues are playing out may be very different but the underlying developmental process is the same. I hope this helps in some way.:)
 
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