Out of the FOG

Coping with Personality Disorders => Dealing with PD Parents => Topic started by: Afterthefox on May 26, 2017, 04:54:07 PM

Title: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Afterthefox on May 26, 2017, 04:54:07 PM
My BPDf has a very calculated public persona that he has spent a lifetime cultivating. He has achieved a degree of success in his field as a result.

His abuses are mostly behind closed doors, and mostly directed at his family. However, he has been outcast from various professional and social circles due to volatile anti-social behaviour. His reputation is therefore poor, but I suspect most people have no idea just how malignant he really is.

I sometimes have a impulse to expose him, to 'out' him as an abuser and to ruin his public image. I have even worked out a way to do it. But I am not malicious enough to ever do such a thing. Yet, the impulse remains to reveal the truth to those who admire him, merely out of a feeling of injustice and moral righteousness.

Does anyone else have similar feelings, and how do you work with them?

Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Maisey on May 26, 2017, 10:22:14 PM
MIL has a  Beloved Grand Matriarch to The Big Happy Family role she presents to her own relatives, none of whom live near us or have contact with us. Just rainbows and unicorns going on over here.

While I would not  contact her family to dispel that myth, I certainly would not hold back the truth if it came up in conversation with any of them.

Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: jennsc85 on May 26, 2017, 10:36:47 PM
I used to think that my uN/BPD mother had no idea how she was acting. I thought it was just engrained in her and she acted the same with everyone.

She does have an attitude that borders on being out of line with others...but the rages? She only has a select few she shows that side to.

I've only recently come to realize that she CAN control this (or else saves it all up for me!) When DH is around, she's fine. Still very obvious that she has a PD but compared to when she's alone with me, I'd almost dare to say she's pleasant around DH.

One time at Christmas Eve years and years ago I asked my mom if she'd watch DD for me while DH and I ran to the store to get something. She thought he was outside and started ranting about how she couldn't POSSIBLY watch a 1 year old and finish her fabulous dinner!! What are you THINKING, Jenn? Suddenly DH appeared in the doorway and she says "Oh! You meant right now, of course I'd love to watch my granddaughter! Come here sweetheart!" (Btw she's never alone with DD anymore--this was long before I realized how big of a problem there was with M)

I was like  :stars: in that situation. She totally turned off the ranting/monologue/rage when there was an audience.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: sandpiper on May 28, 2017, 05:53:20 PM
Yes, and while it's frustrating, I'm not sure it's always in our interests to expose them - far better to let them expose themselves. Which they generally will do, given enought time & rope to hang themselves.
I think the trouble is that they will run with a herd of similar personalities or else they'll find gullible people who will bolster up their egos - good people will walk away from them because they will see through them. And often a narcissist will choose a profession that will make them look good and which will offer up a lot of narcissistic supply.
My concern is what they'll do to protect their image. Usually you're dealing with someone who has no conscience and who views you as an object that only exists to meet their needs, so I think you have to ask yourself, what are the likely consequences of going up against them, as opposed to the benefits of quietly walking away and enjoying your quality of life far from their sphere of influence.
Image is everything to a narcissist & they don't usually have a lot in the way of integrity.
People worth knowing will see that.
I've had to deal with a lot of smear campaigns from my mother's FOO & also from my PD sistter who is a drug user. Nobody comes out looking good if you get into a fight over the truth with one of those personalities & as I said to my T, I simply don't like who I become in relationship to my mother's family.
Somehow every hard-earned piece of wisdom & every healthy relationship skill that has been such a struggle for me to learn simply goes to hell when I'm around them & I'm just back inside a web of toxic interactions.
Someone outside the family won't know who to believe if you state your truth and the PD responds with a smear campaign - in my experience, people just walk away from both parties or else they side with their friend, regardless of the evidence, one way or another. It's never a logical or a rational choice. And people will often side with someone who has power or position in society. There is no justice in this, but it's how abusers manage to hide in plain sight - they are very convincing actors.
My decision was that it's just better to walk away.
I think that you have to choose your battles and only open up to people you can trust, and accept that there are a lot of people around the narcissist who really aren't interested in looking below the surface, because of whatever it is that they get out of that relationship.
It sucks, but the bottom line is that the people who value the friendship of a narcissist probably aren't going to be the kind of people that you want to have close to you.
I hope that helps - trust me I understand the frustration of dealing with this.
FWIW I have found that having just one or two really switched on people who see right through the narcissist is far more satisfying than all the bleating sheep who flock around to flatter them & prop them up.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: mercurial on May 28, 2017, 06:54:35 PM
Oh yes, I wish people could see what's going on. It's so blatant, too, and I have to sit silent and take the smear campaign for the moment. N isn't even under attack, except in N's own mind. :doh:

It drives me crazy. Can't people see and hear? Don't they have critical thinking skills, or even just the decency to adhere to the morals they publicly say they believe in?

Apparently not.  :sadno:
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Afterthefox on May 28, 2017, 11:57:42 PM

You nailed it. Great advice, thank you.

I really appreciate the sentiment that the people who are impressed by a narcissist's claim to superiority, really aren't worth knowing. Absolutely with you on that one. The friendships I treasure the closest are with people who are grounded, open-hearted, and genuine, who seek to engage with people on a deeper level than image and achievement.

As you quite rightly say, when you're in the presence of a N, or seeing the world from their point of view, it is tempting to think toxically. To seek an answer or response to their abuse. It's contagious. Something about simply walking away and leaving my BPDf to spin around in a frenzy for the rest of his days manipulating whoever comes his way feels... right.

Thank you.

Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: VividImagination on May 29, 2017, 12:15:28 AM
I didn't have to expose my NM, although it was in my power. She finally pissed off enough people that they called the authorities and she lost everything.

She reaped exactly what she sowed, and it was great.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: SE7 on May 29, 2017, 01:17:31 AM
I can understand the sentiment, but I am reserving any 'outing' as my very last resort if/when things devolve in my FOO (which has already started to happen) ... if I am backed into a corner at some point, and if it involves another total loss of everything and/or something legal, that's when I will pull the plug and out the 2 narcs. My plan is a mass email to all their extended family members. I do NOT want to have to do this, as once that point is reached, it's all over for any family relationships.

As for my NM's public persona, I had to go out with her to a show the other night just to keep the peace, and she ran into a friend of hers who was pretty wacky. Watching the whole interaction between them was somewhat disturbing. The friend made a comment about visiting her house, and NM meanly said "NO!" like a mean girl-child. All I could do was think 'who could actually want to be friends with her?' -- oh yeah, someone as wacky as she is, LOL! Her friend asked where I live, and NM said 'at our house' and the friend immediately shut up about it, as if it were some type of embarrassing thing for me to be living with the NM .. very awkward. This is why I try to avoid being with my NM at all costs in public.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Blueskies on May 29, 2017, 08:56:10 AM
If you take yourself out of the firing line of the abuse they are more likely to turn on other people and expose themselves.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: sandpiper on May 30, 2017, 12:31:50 AM
 :bighug: :bighug: :bighug:
I was listening to digital radio yesterday & there was a scientist on talking about 'Normalcy bias'.
I'm not sure about posting the link as I think there may be rules about not cluttering up the website so it might pay to google it.
Basically it shows that 70% of people will just trundle along going lalalalalalalala can't hear you/see you/notice you when there is a serious catastrophe about to happen. i.e. the plane catches fire, the tsunami is imminent, the weather folk say there's a huge storm coming that is going to kill people. The natural human tendency is to listen to someone going 'Oh this is normal/has happened before/nothing unusual is happening here' & they will perish before they take action to save themselves. The happy news on this is that people who have a history of trauma have an acute sense of danger and a distrust of the herd so when they see something untoward happening, personal safety/acute paranoia sets in & these are the ones that save themselves.
It was a really interesting study.
anyway, it makes me wonder if 'normalcy bias' accounts for why so many people can go through life with their blinkers on thinking that an abuser/PD/addict is perfectly normal.
It's a psychological mechanism that tells them they don't want to look under the bed in case the monsters are real.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: gratitude on May 30, 2017, 04:01:02 AM
Your example reminded me SO MUCH of my NM. When we were at my sister's house, she grabbed her baby and paraded her around the house exclaiming as loudly as possible how gorgeous her baby granddaughter was. She turned the corner where no one was looking at her, and her face fell to a look of disgust. How do people not notice things like this????
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Afterthefox on May 30, 2017, 06:33:53 PM

That's a really interesting perspective. I suppose the remaining 30% may be classed under the term 'hyper-vigilant' - with a social defense mechanism cultivated to prevent unwitting exposure to hostility. As a survivor of abuse, I consider my level of cynicism towards others as certainly higher than most people I meet. I am a quick study and I am very sensitive to the subtlest of hostilities. I am also quick to dissociate with toxic people without a second thought.

With this in mind, I think that I probably perceive people with a level of examination that those 70% who tend towards 'normalcy bias' do not even consider. People who have not experienced abuse may not be aware that the more subtle abuses even exist, and for all kinds of reasons - taboo, embarrassment, unawareness - wouldn't know how to approach the subject even if they were made aware of it.

I think it's for all these reasons that the impulse to publicly 'reveal' your abuser is really shooting oneself in the foot. In real terms, it would cause just as much shame and contempt towards yourself, due to misapprehensions regarding abuse in the broader field of society.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: findjoy81 on May 30, 2017, 06:50:41 PM
Oh yes, I have daydreamed so many things, so many times....everything from making flyers of emails and dropping them from airplanes to just calling up a few select people and sharing details.....
But I never would.
Because I'm a decent, moral human being. And I believe that the truth always comes to light eventually, and one reaps what they sow.  I concentrate on what I'm sowing - into my children, into my community.... and know I can walk in truth.  He can walk in what he wants to.... eventually it'll get deep enough  :fallingbricks:
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: bamboozledboy on May 31, 2017, 01:43:26 PM
I was curious if anyone who has older NPD parents noticed that as they age, it gets harder to keep the public persona up? 

My dad did a good job of not displaying abnormal behavior around people outside our family when he was young.  As he got older, he would slip up more often or let his anger overcome self control.  Especially, when I hit my 20's, I started to notice his friends distancing them from him.  Likewise, professionals (especially medical pro's) were noticing how difficult he was to deal with.  Aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews (related to him) didn't want to contact him about family updates, or invites to family functions.

Now that I'm in my 40's (him in his 70's) he has no friends, no family that with share time with him and every medical professional has had issues with him.  I was the last one to abandon him.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Afterthefox on May 31, 2017, 02:58:16 PM

I would say that as my BPDf reached his 70s, he started to decline. He lost a lot of friends and professional contacts due to anti-social behaviour. He refused therapy despite pleas for him to attend, he abandoned his partner, and abruptly sold the property they shared against their wishes. He became more and more erratic and his future planning became incoherent, which ultimately led to my own NC.

However, the vision he has for his public persona is the one thing that motivates him. The one consistency in his life. Now he is almost 80, and is what I would call elderly, he has resumed grooming professional allies for support in a calculated way, and this seems to be bolstering his reputation once more. This follows a lifelong pattern of systematic abandonment and reconciliation, but the difference this time is that he appears in no way intent on improving his interpersonal relationships, only his 'perceived popularity'. He has alienated himself from most of his friends and relatives and is now hell bent on leaving a 'legacy', and will do seemingly anything to enable his vision.

So to answer your question, yes it is probably harder to keep up the public persona later in life when a sociopath's mental and social abilities are compromised, but that won't necessarily stop them from attempting to do so. If anything, the approach of death may increase their sense of urgency.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: all4peace on June 02, 2017, 12:29:19 AM
anyway, it makes me wonder if 'normalcy bias' accounts for why so many people can go through life with their blinkers on thinking that an abuser/PD/addict is perfectly normal.
It's a psychological mechanism that tells them they don't want to look under the bed in case the monsters are real.
Really interesting. I have a sibling who seems to really need to believe that people are good. Even when their behavior is suggesting otherwise, over time, repeatedly. He really likes/d my fil and one bil, and thought they were really good guys. It has taken an extraordinary number of incidents with them to even slightly waver his view of them. Even still, he felt badly that bil might not be as friendly anymore.

I wouldn't want to look for the bad, but it'd be a little scary to not be able to see it when it's staring you in the face, either.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: sandpiper on June 03, 2017, 06:51:10 PM
I have a cousin like that.
He goes on and on and on about how wonderful his mother was & will regale a crowd with hilarious stories of her shouting abuse at her children and at him in particular.
I think it helped that she managed to isolate him from all of his extended family so he never got to see anyone else's perspective on what a nasty piece of work she really was.
I put that one down to a lifetime of brainwashing & Stockholm Syndrome.
Or as someone's therapist said at these boards - and I've never forgotten it 'you just aren't ready to be an orphan.'
I think sometimes it's just far too terrifying for some adult survivors of abuse to look beneath the sheepskin & see the wolf sitting there. And it just sets them up in later life to find relationships where abuse is confused with love.
Very sad.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Afterthefox on June 04, 2017, 03:13:51 PM
I had never thought of using the word before, but when I first met my wife and she became aware of the extremity of my father's behaviour, and the influence he exerts on the people around him, she also called it brainwashing. She saw how I had a tendency to make excuses for his inexcusable behaviour without question. It surprised me when I first heard her say it, but then I realized that this is exactly what a Narcissist attempts to do. 

Coming OOTF is basically like waking up from being brainwashed - rejecting a malevolent attempt to indoctrinate, propagandize and condition you. And some people just never find the courage or clarity to wake up from it.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: sandpiper on June 04, 2017, 06:03:55 PM
I've come to think of a lot of it as transgenerational trauma, that is just passed down through the generations. I know in my sisters' cases, they just flat-out refused to have any counselling or to even acknowledge the trauma that we had lived through & they insisted that they were fine & could be perfectly good parents by simply turning their backs on their own painful memories.
The result was that one sister became a loving but needy and controlling parent and the other became an abusive and aggressive controlling parent. Both are extremely needy and both found ways to isolate their children from any unwanted influences that might challenge loyalty to Mother.
My sisters couldn't see it but they were just repeating the cycle.
When we were children, we were isolated from extended family because of my mother's neediness. She wanted to be the centre of our universe & it meant cutting us off from everyone in Dad's family. She saw danger and vice where it didn't exist and when I eventually found my father's family I was shocked to find out how loving and functional the cousins were. Sure, they all have issues, but not like my mother's. She just projected her own sense of danger onto the outside world and she needed to shut us away in a tower to keep us 'safe' from that.
On some level she must have known that given the choice, we'd rather be with loving family members than sitting around propping up her damaged psyche, making her feel loved and important.
When I first came to these boards I saw it as malice. These days I see that inability to love & to look at their own issues as damage.
I hope that in my lifetime the attitude to mental health will turn around and people won't feel so reluctant to examine their own damage and take responsibility for healing it.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Shockwave on June 05, 2017, 01:04:59 PM
My uPD parents do their character assassination attempts in private when nobody is looking. No witnesses, no crime, in their eyes. My mother's worst emotional abuse came when she tried to cajole me into doing something which would seriously jeopardize or hurt me for someone else. One time, my brother saw it, recognized it and cut it off before the mother could gain a head of steam. He recognized it because he was the SG and recognized what was going on. Keep in mind, my mother wanted me to take my niece and nephew (brother's kids), to Disneyland during Finals' week at my university.  :stars:

I have long since learned that the counter to such things is to do the opposite of what you have been taught: blow it up sky high and make sure as many eyeballs as possible see what's going on. Sure, the Narc is going to get super pissed off and seek revenge on you, but they were going to do that anyway by mere virtue of your existence in their lives.
Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: flash bug on June 05, 2017, 03:26:23 PM
I so can relate as well. With her church family and school friends her voice changes, her words change, etc. She is so sweet and kind in front of them. For years I have heard how sweet your momma is...how lucky I am to have such a sweet woman for my mother.... :stars: :stars: :stars: :stars: :stars: :stars:

Uhm yeah you should have seen her the other day screaming at me I didn't love her and she didn't want to live anymore because I didn't care cause she wanted me to come to her house right that very minute and fix her computer/oven/door/bill problem/.......or the constant calls I got on vacation of her crying she was dying if I didn't come home cause she felt better if I was around. Or her calls when I was with other family crying that I didn't love her because I wasn't with her. Or the 900 other various scenario's where I was "a bad daughter" when I didn't do as she thought I should..didn't say what she thought I should...didn't visit/talk to those only she approved of...well you get the picture.

Yeah. Lucky alright.... :roll:

Did I want to out her? You betcha! but did I? Nope. I learned to just smile and not say one word. It's hard. I want  to say something but it would accomplish nothing. She has carefully crafted her persona for a certain segment of folks and that is just what it is. I now avoid any social situation with her where I see the other persona or hear those sing her praises. I have very limited contact with her after being totally enmeshed for most of my life. Freedom feels good and they can think what they like. I know the truth.

Title: Re: The Narcissist's Public Persona
Post by: Afterthefox on June 06, 2017, 01:53:15 PM

I wholly agree with your point on intergenerational trauma. In the case of my BPDf, his father was clearly also damaged. Overbearing, manipulative, abusive to his wife, and especially abusive to his elder son to the point that he drove him to attempted suicide and eventual hospitalization. As a result, my father loathed and resented his father with a passion. He was clearly traumatized by the episode, but no one in his family ever sought professional help.

Instead, left to his own devices, my father has always attempted to 'correct' social issues with extreme avoidance. Even though he lived through the 'age of aquarius', and may speak about personal awareness as a cultural phenomenon, he has failed to find the courage for the deep introspection that would lead to his own healing process. He projects his personal suffering onto others, and simply removes himself from any source that may threaten his sense of control and superiority. His life therefore has been littered with interpersonal conflict, periods of isolation and social exclusion.

The persona he has cultivated is a calculated strategy that allows him to function socially from a pedestal - unreachable, irreproachable, impenetrable. It is his defense against having to communicate directly with anyone, including himself, on a plain and forthright level.

When I consider these people as damaged instead of innately malevolent, I feel less inclined to react to them, by exposing their misgivings publicly etc. Indulging in conflict at their disordered level is simply perpetuating the intergenerational conflict that I am trying to evolve beyond.

Thank you for reminding me to operate from a place of empathy.