I noticed something on Quora the other night. Quora is a place for anyone to ask a question and anyone to answer. There are many threads about narcissism. Victims of narcissism, experts on narcissism, and narcissists themselves participate in the conversations.
Someone asked how going no contact with a narcissist makes them feel. There was a mixture of responses. About 75% of the responses said it probably enrages the narcissist. You are his property in his mind, and so he may stalk you, etc. About 25% said that if the narcissist is on to someone new, they are glad you went no contact. They don’t want you mucking up the new “supply” (the new woman: “supply” is a term about how they get their need for admiration and adoration). And even in this 75/25% mix, many said something to the effect, “Well, it depends.” They gave very nuanced, detailed answers based on their experience that made total sense.
And then a narcissist got on. No kidding, a narcissist. This person’s profile says as much: they are a narcissist. Literally self-diagnosed. She laughed at the responses. “I laugh at all these responses like you know what you are talking about.” Then what did she say? Exactly what the people had been saying. She said something like, “I don’t care! I laugh at your silly games. I’m on to something new. Well I mean unless it was a cold rejection. Then I might get mad or something.”
Ok. Except HAD SHE ACTUALLY READ the responses, people said exactly this. They SAID if they are on to something new, the narc has moved on. And indeed that there may be seething rage otherwise for an old supply going no contact. She said exactly what they said. But she HAD to tell them they were all stupid, and HER way of saying it was superior.
So. I have noticed this about narcissists. You can ask them anything at all. If it’s not said THE EXACT WAY they would say it, you’re wrong. Even though you say essentially the same thing, you’re wrong.
For instance, I asked a female narc coworker once, “Hey what was the shape of that thing? Was it a cylinder or a bubble?” I said this in passing, while hurriedly trying to get a looming deadline complete. I got told, “Neither. It was a cylinder with a tapered edge.” Ooooookay. “Neither.” And yet she used the same word of one of the options I gave. If you have to use the same exact word as I used, I’m not totally wrong. The answer is not “neither.” She was a very snooty, arrogant woman who held on to her solutions like a dog with a bone, dismissing everyone and anything in favor of what she right-in-the-moment thought was right. It was very miserable working with her. Ok. Yeah. A cylinder–with a tapered edge. Got it.
I got this treatment from Objectivists constantly. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I gave a brief synopsis of my book on a forum once, that it challenges “the idea that man is blank.” There were dozens of responses telling me I “can’t use words properly.” This is because I used the term “blank” instead of the correct Objectivist term, “tabula rasa.” Leonard Peikoff himself uses “blank” as in “a child born bank.”
The idea of education is to take a tabula rasa (someone born blank) and transform him, through a systematic process across years, into a being with the skills and aptitudes necessary to fit him for adult life. (2)
Moldable. Malleable. It’s what they intend. It’s what I challenge. But the fierce “nuh uhs!” I get from them! Over word use. Word Arguing is Always the Sign of an Ideologue. As Murray Rothbard writes, about the Ayn Rand cult, “In the name of “precision of language,” in short, nuance and even synonyms were in effect prohibited.”
You see, a narcissist is stupid. Yes. They are stupid. They think they are incredibly smart. But they are stupid. They are INTELLECTUAL, not intelligent. They live in a philosophical la la land where they think up ideas and argue them. They don’t actually sit down and study something in any disciplined manner. They don’t study or compare patterns of behavior like an actual scientist would. They don’t deal with patients and come up with effective solutions like a doctor would. They are much more like lawyers: they just argue with decent sounding arguments. They are the worst, to be honest. They think they are very smart. But they are actually quite stupid.
You see, narcissists filter out 80-90% of reality. They forcefully push things out of their mind. Reality was a harsh mess for them growing up. Their survival tactic was to block out most of it. There are many potentially unpleasant truths out there–for them anyway. They have a constant sense of shame and they don’t want anyone touching it. When they snarl at you, “Life’s not fair! Get used to it!,” this is how THEY think and how THEY are. And they fully believe you are the same way. Same deal when they accuse everyone of being snowflakes who can’t handle life. That’s them.
But, anyway, they block out most stimuli from the outer environment. Some say it’s so bad they can watch a ball go into the hole, but not realize they swung the golf club. So they definitely are NOT listening to anything you have to say or offer. So you might be talking and communicating, but they are hearing none of it. And, by definition, you are stupid. So whatever you say is wrong. And they’ll say as much. And then repeat back to you the “right” answer, which is exactly what you just said. I call this the “Nuh Uh.”
“Nuh uh!”–The Narcissist
This is why narcissism is so damn difficult to destroy. All of the arguments in the world don’t matter. They aren’t hearing you. Worse, they think they are amazing creatures of reason. So they THINK they are creatures of reason when they are anything about. No amount of persuasion works with them. And by definition they are smart, in their mind. And they can be very charismatic. They have some great word salad. Ayn Rand is a fantastic example. She writes intoxicating books to people, sucking them into her vortex. She promises health, happiness, and success with her philosophy. Was she an actual psychologist? Did she heal anyone? Did she have a successful clinical practice? Yeah, no. I write about it in Towards Liberalism: A Challenge to Objectivist Ethics. It’s just a tap dance–her favorite form of dance, by the way.
It was hard for me in arguing with Objectivists to decide how to approach them. Argue with them? Catch them off-guard, before the “Nuh uh” sets in? Unfortunately, that’s how I approached it.
I’m here to tell you: it’s futile. If you want to argue with them, the best I have found is to give them their own quotes, from Ayn Rand herself. Then dissect it.
Otherwise, don’t expect to talk TO them. Talk to their VICTIMS. Talk to people who still have a shred of intelligence. Break down the argument for THEM. Act as a “vaccination” against the sometimes charismatic narcissist for people. In short, assume people are intelligent. Because, if not, there is little point in writing or talking anyway.
I will go through and update some of my arguments and keep tweaking it until I figure out what works.
Read it. Towards Liberalism. I double dog dare ya.
Amber lived as an Objectivist for 10 years until she realized it was failing her. She now calls out this narcissistic ideology selling itself as freedom. She is willing to Nuh Uh the Nuh Uhers. See her book Towards Liberalism: A Challenge to Objectivist Ethics.