War of Wills

I am currently visiting a friend in Bali who invited a dog trainer to work with her dogs who were going to be freighted back to Australia. It was a fascinating encounter watching one of the dogs and the trainer fight a war of wills as to who was the more dominant of the pack.

Many times in relationships  especially those that are abusive, the domineering partner will often get the other party to submit to their will. This can be due to a personality disorder called Narcissism.

Narcissistic personalities can be defined as people who have an overinflated sense of their own importance and generally lack empathy with others. They believe they are the leader of the pack or more important than anyone else and can show symptoms of jealously, arrogance, be exploitive of others and have a strong sense of entitlement and self importance.

When someone is identified with this symptom it is diagnosed as a mental illness. Generally developed in early childhood it is more prevalent in males than females. These individuals:

1. Dislike any form of criticism. If they assume or believe you are analysing them or their behaviour they may lie, change the subject or respond to something else as they don’t like to show their vulnerability or that they are deficient in any way

2. Lack confidence.  Though they are superficial they show a face that appears in control and knowledgable. These individuals can rise to positions of power and influence as they are driven to prove themselves.  Their feelings of inferiority are overwhelming but they can skilfully hide this appearing to those around as having high self esteem. They constantly seek compliments for their achievements and will compliment themselves if someone else doesn’t.

3. Are defensive. Since these individuals cannot lose face they will protect themselves at all costs.Their defensive system can be easily set off and thus if you get into a conflict with them they find it near on impossible to apologise or admit they made a mistake. Like the Bali dog I watched being trained, initially it was very stubborn and refused to obey the trainer. It was their way or the highway. Eventually through patience it gave way to doing as it was told. The trainer just sat and waited but it is much harder to break a personality disorder if imbedded since childhood.

4. Outbursts. Angry outbursts are common if this individual doesn’t get their own way or they feel threatened. Being at the centre of this rage where their hurt, guilt, shame comes to the fore the other party can be baffled, hurt or even frightened.

5. Confronting the darkness. Narcissistic personalities find it near on impossible to confront their traits and behaviours because it’s so scary to disrobe and show themselves for who they are. They alienate themselves and hide somewhere safe so they are not devalued. Not so long ago I was at a dance where an instructor was criticised for doing something. This instructor is known to grand stand his abilities (which I have to admit are very good) but he certainly has a narcissistic personality. When he was attacked, rather than explain or ignore the attacker he chose to leave immediately.

6. Sense of entitlement. Other individuals are seen as extensions of the narcissist and there to serve their needs. They seek to get from others and don’t generally think of the repercussions. There is a scale where some behaviours are higher than others so when I use the word generally, it is because not everyone is at the same level on the scale.

If you are in a relationship with someone who shows this type of behaviour be aware they like to dominate conversations, sometimes share inappropriate personal information about themselves or ask unacceptable questions of others. Sometimes they may use manipulation and games to wreak havoc so don’t be taken into their world and feel you are wrong when you may be right.

© Conversations That Matter


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