THEY’RE NOT NORMAL.
Pending some kind of a miracle personality transplant, they’ll likely never be normal. And by normal I mean, not personality disordered.
The brains of narcissists, borderlines, histrionics, psychopaths and sociopaths brains are wired differently. This isn’t a rhetorical statement. We can literally see the differences in brain scan images.
This doesn’t mean, however, that Cluster B personality disorder individuals aren’t responsible for their abusive, dishonest and oftentimes criminal behavior. Nor does it mean they ought not be held accountable. Consequences matter.
Without meaningful consequences, they’ve no incentive to mange the worst of their pathology and abuses. Remember, if they were able to hide their malevolence during the love bombing stage, the mid- to high-functioning ones can control themselves when they choose. They seems able to control themselves when:
- They’re seeking new narcissistic supply (i.e., seduction or love bombing mode).
- When there’s a consequence they want to avoid (e.g., going to jail, divorce, court fines or losing custody).
- They’re engaging in image management (i.e., having the appearance of goodness rather than actually being good).
Don’t give in to wishful thinking. These episodes of seeming niceness and decency won’t last. Narcissists will never be normal. So, don’t confuse a narcissist’s fleeting moments of normalcy with being normal. It’s a dangerous mistake.
What’s happening during the seeming lulls of normalcy?
Most likely, the NPD, BPD or HPD is reloading their Crazy Super Soaker. Meaning, human beings need time to recharge, restore, regroup and sleep. Even the crazy ones.
Granted, many high-conflict personality disordered individuals seem to have super human powers that imbue them with endless energy. Energy for anger, aggression, drama and other malicious mischief. Anger releases adrenaline and other high octane neurochemicals creating a high or buzz. Even so, they also need time to regroup, catch their breath and recharge.
These lulls seem to coincide with the deescalation and reconciliation stages of the abuse cycle. Then, the tension building stage inevitably begins again and the next abusive episode commences. The illusory normalcy is also a component of the trauma bond. This is the, “But she can be so nice sometimes!” In other words, it’s intermittent positive reinforcement of the variable ratio reinforcement schedule.
Those nice lulls aren’t really nice. They’re just moments in which there’s an absence of abuse.
Narcissists, borderlines and histrionic won’t ever be “normal.”
It doesn’t matter how normal these individuals may seem to be at times. Narcissists will never be normal. Histrionics, borderlines, psychopaths and sociopaths will never be normal. These personality types aren’t motivated by the same hopes, fears, desires and consequences as you. They don’t want harmonious and cooperative relationships. Above all else, they want power, control, zero accountability and the biggest wedge of the proverbial pie.
They’re not interested fairness, mutual respect and equal partnership. Zero sum games are their jam. They dominate others through deception, manipulation and abuse — including playing the victim and overt intimidation and bullying. (Yes, false victim narratives are highly emotionally manipulative and abusive to the falsely accused!)
Rather, they’re energized by drama, power struggles and petty gamesmanship. This is their normal, which is abnormal by objective standards. Thus, their behavior and disordered thinking is quantified in DSM as diagnostic criteria.
Don’t confuse a narcissist’s fleeting moments of normalcy with being normal.
In these moments of fake normalcy, you’re experiencing a mask of normalcy (e.g., false self). They’re deceiving and manipulating you. Or, as noted above, you’re in the let’s pretend everything’s okay stage of the abuse cycle. For example, don’t confuse offers of extra cold weather clothes for the kids, Christmas ornaments, summertime garden vegetables, etc., for a burgeoning ability to truly co-parent.
The NPD, BPD or HPD or Cluster B parent and ex is likely:
a) In between relationships and, thus, feeling less emboldened to be their usual rotten selves.
b) In between relationships/pissed off their usual #enabler(s) and, thus, feeling less emboldened to be their usual rotten selves and want something from you. For example, trading days, extra time to go to Disney World, agreeing to change kid schools or pediatricians, etc.
c) In between relationships, out of a job (again) or some other self-inflicted shit show and are gearing up to ask for money.
d) Already have their next nasty Wile E. Coyote scheme in the works or are about to execute and are feeling giddy, jaunty, dupers delight or Machiavellian glee anticipating another Lucy Van Pelt yanking the football away again and laughing at Charlie Brown (i.e., you) falling on your back again.
e) Has finally burnt themselves out after weeks and months of drama, attempts to control, deceive, bully, exploit, etc. They need time to regroup without you regaining stability during their “vulnerable” moment. Maybe you wouldn’t take advantage of this, but remember, they project.
If you’re still married, for example, don’t believe non-apologies and empty promises that things will get better. These are likely dishonest attempts to escape the consequences of their crappy behavior. Otherwise known as a Hoover.
Trust nothing. Don’t wishful think yourself into believing the crazy eye of the crazy hurricane will last. It won’t. Do take advantage of these lulls or Crazy down times to accomplish positive things for yourself and the kids. And be careful out there!
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals with relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. Since 2009, she’s specialized in helping men and women break free of abusive relationships, cope with the stress of ongoing abuse and heal from the trauma. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. If you’d like to work with Dr. Palmatier, please visit the Schedule a Session page or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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