“ . . . lonely is a man without love . . . “
Lyrics: Solitaire – Sung by Neil Sedaka (and others)
There was a man, a lonely man
Who lost his love, thru his indifference
A heart that cared that went unshared
Until it died within his silence
I’m asking the question – is there a connection between Narcissism, abusive (controlling and manipulative) behaviour and depression? Why would someone with all the control in one family end up with virtually no control in a new family causing him/her to live like a homeless person i.e not taking care with personal appearance and personal hygiene? Possibly in a state of deep depression?
One view is that “there could well be such a relationship in a given individual who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (diagnosed by a Psychiatrist). Where their perceptions of their skills and attributes are not shared by others, coupled with their extreme sensitivity to criticism or defeat this can lead to social withdrawal and depression.”
In an effort to understand the person described above in my “questions”, I found a paper written by Lynne Namka, Ed. D © 2005 which says the following . . .
“People with Narcissistic thinking and behaviour often place unrealistic demands on others to make them feel better. They often cannot tolerate negative emotional distress and turn it on others and blame them instead of looking within to see their own part of the problem. This is the defense of projection – what the person does not like in him/herself, they get angry at others who may have the same trait. Projecting one’s anger onto others instead of using it to learn and grow is always limiting. Self- image is distorted with the narcissistic point of view and the person believes that he/she is superior to others. An inflated self-esteem is a defense to cover up their sense of shame deep within. Grandiosity is an dangerous error in thinking that prevents them from blaming themselves and becoming depressed or disintegrated. Narcissistic people need to feel good at all costs – they usually insist on having things their own way at the expense of others. When they don’t get their own way, they feel devalued and because they cannot tolerate the feelings of fear, hurt, anxiety, helplessness and despair, they defend against them. They deny and rationalize their own contribution to the problems to preserve their own internal fantasy of being all good and right. Narcissistic people have errors in thinking which prevents them from seeing how things are from both sides of the picture. Not wanting to feel bad inside, they build defenses such as denial, repression and a strong need to be right. Some even get a sense of feeling superior when they get their way or make others feel bad. This is the dynamic underlying bullying. People who abuse and bully others end up being lonely because others do not want to be around them.
The two greatest fears we humans have in relationships are fears of engulfment (smothering, being controlled by someone else) and fears of rejection and abandonment. Our greatest longings are the needs for connection and the opposite need for space and individuality. People with Narcissistic tendencies yearn for closeness and fears closeness at the same time. When they grow up they harbour the irrational belief that the person they choose for a partner will give them perfect love and make up for all the hurts and slights of their life – they long for an ideal love to soothe their fragile sense of self. They seek refuge in being seen as the good guy and try to gain approval and recognition. When this does not happen readily, they feel wounded, hurt and attacked. Family members learn to back off from confronting them about their behaviour and not “hurt their feelings”. Constantly seeking attention and approval puts them in the precarious position of always needing something from somebody else as they believe that they are right and others are wrong, they rarely admit to faults in themselves. They can verbally abuse and punish their spouses and children without seeing the pain that they cause as they believe that the person deserves the abuse they dish out. They may try to enlist a child to side with them and turn against the other parent.
People with narcissistic behaviour have a sense of entitlement that allows them to break the rules of society. They believe that the laws do not apply to them and they do not feel remorse when they get caught. However, they are upset over any inconveniences they suffer as a result of being busted. They believe they have the right to do whatever it takes to get short term gratification without suffering any consequences. Lying and distortions of reality are considered fair game to shut the other person down. They feel free to cheat on their income tax, take what is not theirs or cheat on their partners. Criticism of their behaviour or trying to get them to see what they are doing only causes them to entrench further into defensiveness. When found out in doing wrong, they get evasive, lie or get angry. They have little or no remorse for the pain they caused the other person, only anger that they did not get away with their behaviour.
Narcissists have a lack of insight about understanding and processing of feelings. Instead, they deny their uncomfortable feelings and run from them with the exception of anger. The huge core of shame inside must be protected by avoiding the vulnerable feelings. They avoid taking risks to love and never learn to develop true intimacy. They would rather threaten their relationship than face humiliation, embarrassment or injury to their self-esteem. They are slow to learn the all important skills of commitment such as sympathy, understanding the intentions and motives of their partner, compassion and empathy. They may even choose someone to love who is even more narcissistic and selfish than they are thereby mirroring their own problems. True intimacy and a lasting partnership require the skills of dealing with conflict. Narcissistic people often discount the issues in the relationship and pull away from their partner. The narcissistic defenses of becoming angry, shutting down, minimizing and distancing keep them feeling safe in the moment. Intimacy is always affected. When problems are never resolved, the partner becomes highly threatened and angry themselves thereby weakening the relationship. Typically partners and children who suffer verbal, physical or sexual abuse become so overwhelmed and threatened that they do not want to continue the relationship.
People with severe narcissistic traits do not change because they do not believe that they have a problem and what they are doing works for them. The narcissistic defense occurs to keep them from feeling bad so they can’t know their own defects. They are UNABLE to see the depth of their pathology as to know their shortcomings would send them down into great shame which would trigger depression. What they do not realize is that when there has been great pain and threat, basic trust has been broken in the relationship and it is unlikely that it can be regained.”
This all makes a lot of sense to me and confirms my analysis of the person concerned. I cannot believe how accurate I was in my analysis and can fully understand how this person could end up in a state of deep depression.
The person concerned was literally “caught with his hand in the cookie jar” which has left him feeling wounded, hurt and attacked. He is no longer the “good guy”, has lost all his friends and the closeness he had with his family (brothers and sisters) and has lost all contact with his first wife and children (does not know he has grandchildren – maybe he has guessed he has, by now?).
The second wife he married to spite the first wife does not care/no longer cares about him leaving him to wander around aimlessly not caring about himself, personal hygiene etc. It is assumed that he eats and sleeps at home (his new home) but wanders around aimlessly during the day (he has retired from work). The first wife and children have a restraining order against him so there is no way he can even attempt to get back to that family.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs the need for love, acceptance and belonging (emotional relationships) is what drives human behavior (3rd need on Maslow’s hierarchy). Some of the things that satisfy this need include: friendships, romantic attachments, family, social groups, community groups and churches and religious organizations. In order to avoid problems such as loneliness, depression and anxiety, it is important for people to feel loved and accepted by other people. Personal relationships with friends, family and lovers play an important role, and also involvement in other groups which may include religious groups, sports teams, book clubs and other group activities.
. . . lonely is a man without love . . .