In the world of narcissist support groups, there are a lot of terms that we get used to using. Phrases like “flying monkeys,” “overt and covert narcissists,” “scapegoat and golden child,” and more. People who are just learning about narcissism are often overwhelmed by the jargon and learning the basics. This book is a really great start for learning about narcissism. The author addresses dealing with narcissists at work, in relationships and in one’s family, so all of the basics are covered. She uses the Wizard of Oz as a metaphor because narcissists fool people and rely on illusions to do so…just like the great Wizard of Oz was really just a regular guy behind a curtain, yet had everyone tricked about his powers.
All of the chapters are helpful–from explaining narcissists, to the different types of narcissistic relationships, to dealing with them, and more, but I was reviewing chapter 2 tonight. It is called “Seeing the Emerald Forest for the Emerald Trees: the Overt and Covert Narcissist,” and it focuses on the fact that many times, we are the only ones who truly see the narcissist while outsiders are fooled by the narcissist’s act. It is incredibly frustrating and leaves us feeling confused, and disbelieved! This chapter has some really good quotes that I underlined AND starred because I could relate so much. Here are a few of my favorites because they explain and validate so well what we have had to deal with:
The NPD person’s success in maintaining this illusion of competence and control is perhaps the greatest source of pain for you if you are in a relationship with the narcissist (page 15.)
On those rare occasions when others might observe some of these behaviors, they will often dismiss the incident with an automatic desire to make excuses for the NPD person. Caught up in the desire to believe the NPD person’s presentation, family and friends will avoid conflict by minimizing her inappropriate behavior, even at times siding with her (page 16.)
That is incredibly true and it’s something that has bothered me many times. There are people who have seen my ex narcopath or my mom going into rages and become abusive, but the people who KNOW what is going on and will admit it are the same people who rush to cover it up and protect the narcissist. I just do not understand it. In fact, I even made a meme about it!
It’s frustrating to me that so many people can witness aggressive or abusive behavior and know that something is “not right” with a person, yet refuse to speak up to protect the victims. Or worse, go out of their way to shield the abusive person from consequences.
And here’s a good quote for those of us who felt “crazy” when we were with narcissists:
The NPD person’s ability to project his problems onto you is so powerful, you may have come to believe that you are the one with the problem. By now, with your self-esteem in full retreat, you probably feel angry, guilty, self-doubting, and simultaneously sorry for the NPD person. With such a confusing array of feelings you may doubt your own sanity (page 16.)
I remember that so clearly from dealing with my first narcissistic ex. I kept thinking that his behavior seemed really irrational and mean, yet he had me convinced that it was my fault he acted that way. My head knew that made no sense, but he was so insistent, I felt very confused about whether or not my reality was correct. Fortunately, I had a therapist who knew both of us and was able to remind me that I was right when I felt like he was abusing me, but his thrall was very powerful. I started the marriage as a happy person and ended it a stressed-out shell of my former self with no self-esteem left.
This chapter of the book goes on to describe the different ways narcissists will manipulate you and others to protect their false images and put the blame on you. For anyone who is going through this or has lived it, this chapter is such a great validation! There is also a section for people who are reading about narcissism and getting nervous that perhaps they too are narcissists. The author tells us that some narcissist traits are normal, and if you are self-aware enough to look at yourself and feel concerned, then you are NOT a narcissist because a narcissist would never look inside and wonder if something was wrong. (This answers a common question because many of us start learning about narcissism and realize we have some of the traits, too.)
This is definitely an essential book for learning about narcissists, validating your reality and figuring out how to deal with them. If you are joining support groups or reading web pages about narcissists, it will also help you learn some of the popular terms we use when we talk about them.