Before I can’t find a link at all (it used to be easy to find on the net), I want to share this article with all of you: The Denial of Remorse and Gratitude by Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D. and Stanley Lependorf, Ph.D. (it’s on the wayback) and here is a shortened version.
Whether you suspect your partner is a narcissist or not, it seems that many passive aggressive men are narcissistically driven.
I hope you all are ready to give lots of feedback on this one, because I not only find it relevant, but fascinating in the same way I’d be focused on a snake poised near my face. It was written by professionals for professionals, but if you get past the beginning lingo with that in mind, it’s great.
Starting with these excerpts: “We propose in this article to revive the Freudian tradition of scrutinizing what is ostensibly mundane and commonplace, addressing those aspects of narcissistic pathology in ourselves and others that invade daily life, in both the personal and professional spheres, often rendering it less gratifying, more bewildering, and lonelier than it might be.”
Yes, please. Let’s look at everyday life and make it clearer. Less lonely is a tall order though.
“Instead, we shall start with the premise that the organizing task of the various narcissistic defenses is the preservation of what has usually been called the grandiose self (after Kohut, 1971), and then go on to portray in concrete terms what kinds of activities that preservation effort entails. In particular, we shall focus on the apparent inability of the person who needs to protect an internal sense of grandiosity either to apologize (i.e., to express genuine remorse) or to thank (i.e., to express genuine gratitude).“
Getting down to it now. Protecting that inner image.
When I wrote that he said “I’m not upset that you’re hurt“, it wasn’t because of a normal ‘to-do’ list he was working on.
He has – A Deadline! He knows that if he doesn’t have a certain amount of work completed on a project by Monday, he’ll have a very upset client calling him. He’s naturally blaming me/us for this, secretly and inwardly, at least his behavior reflects that. Never mind that in the last weeks, it’s been increasingly more difficult to get him to stick to schedules or to be efficiently productive. He waits for us to ‘interrupt’ him (maybe one of the girls asks him to come kill a spider), and pounces on that kind of thing as the reason he isn’t getting work done.
On a very small level, that’s true. Somehow, the time he spends reading junk emails about political issues, facebook, or whatever non-work thing he does doesn’t count. He manages to use an inordinate amount of time for who knows what, but when he’s doing that and I question him, he sighs and talks about being tired, or not feeling well. If I happen to walk in when he’s doing something other than ‘work’, his instant barely veiled irritation, resentment, and complaints are usually a tip off to me. I encourage him to take time for himself, and actually more time than he would normally schedule for himself. But that’s just it… he seems to have to sneak it in rather than scheduling it. Planning it.
One thing I learned the hard way is that while he might not give a hoot what people think under certain circumstances, he does seem to care very much when he’s faced with one-on-one scrutiny and focus of another man, a man who for whatever reasons seems to intimidate him. It worked magic when we were in therapy with a particular psychologist (who was formerly a pastor). All I had to do was say “I’d rather not talk about this or deal with this right now. Let’s deal with this in our counseling session this week.” Instant irritated look shot my way, switching to the gazing through and past me as he considered the ramifications of what I said. Simply, that he would look like an unreasonable, irrational, and abusive boor.
Poof! Within minutes he would backtrack and the issue would be at least temporarily solved. Temporarily – as in – as long as we remained in counseling. Which we could never afford to do.
His avoidance of certain men becoming upset with him puts him in almost a tizzy. He acts out in a variety of annoying ways. He left a door open and our daughter’s cat (an indoor cat battling cancer) got outside. (Cat was safely rescued by our daughters.) Our oldest son graciously and temporarily offered to move his computer next to his father’s work station, and try to help him meet his deadline by sharing some of the work. The very first evening of the day our son moved it and started helping his father, he was rewarded by his father going in and shutting off his computer. Our son was polite, but stared at his father and asked him Why? and to please not do it again. (I was really angry when my husband shut our son’s computer off. It seemed so insulting to our son, a Marine Sgt. that had been to war and back.) He left a hose on for maybe fifteen hours on the sunflowers that were planted. (yep… the sunflowers again). And of course, he said “I’m not upset that you’re hurt!” bogus, so bogus
His need to preserve a certain image, and to avoid accountability from certain men, absolutely drives him. And it drives the rest of us a little crazy. He’s in high anxiety mode, tense, and more easily resentful. He hasn’t finished, but he wants to take today off because it’s Sunday. I get that… but the stuff is due tomorrow. I guess this way he can fail, escalate (?) and blame us.
So hold on to your horses. I plan to sit down with him and encourage him to finish most of that today. He said he had about eight hours of work left. I think he should put in six hours, finish tomorrow morning early, then take a good part of tomorrow off to rest. I’m bracing myself for the discussion.
Excerpt again: “we believe a convincing case can be made that the objects of narcissistic processes can increase their own autonomy, and increase the genuineness and thus the realistic self-esteem of narcissistic others, by refusing to play the pathological reciprocal role that narcissistic behavior typically induces. To step out of that role, they must be able to conceptualize what is “coming at” them.”
Um. Yes, I see what’s coming… but stepping out of the way isn’t usually easy.