A client once sat and expressed that his singular talent was “pissing off” everyone he knew in his life. already those that started liking him soon learned that he was less than likable in most interactions. The real difficulty was that he was a very intelligent and competent specialized and couldn’t understand why he repeatedly behaved in what he called an “asinine” way that guaranteed others would have negative responses to him. His answer may be found in his family history and I deficits in his ability to form and continue satisfying interpersonal relationships that would be considered the foundation of healthy attachment and attunement.
Attachment is about the degree that one feels emotionally connected to others, and the predictable character of that connection. When attachment is inconsistent or poor the predictable character of the emotional connection is vague and ill-formed. This appreciably reduces trust and the calm expectation of sustain that human beings rely on to feel a part of a community or family. Additionally, it is not uncommon to find individuals that grow to adulthood in this dynamic learn to react with aggression and hostility, or by withdrawal and victimization of self. These continued features are frequently associated with the pathology label of Narcissistic.
When family members experience dysregulated interactions with each other, then the person to person attunement is non-existent, ineffective, or inconsistent. This contributes a fear based excursion to gain control by negative method such as those that are easily recognizable in the function of narcissistic personalities. Attunement is related to empathy and the ability to understand what is going on socio-emotionally in the life of another. When attunement is not present, modeled well or employed consistently in a family then it is possible for that sensitivity to be reduced if not crushed completely. When one has low levels of empathy for others it increases the likelihood that an individual will fail in attempts to step into the rhythm of someone else’s dance and pick up the dance steps you need to successfully perform successfully. Learning to recognize and correctly predict the interactions (dance) of others would subsume that there is an existent consistency in behavioral and emotional ecosystem.
Attunement and attachment are two areas of concern when dealing with family dynamics which will interfere with an individual’s relationships throughout life, if Attachment and attunement are sidelined and get little play, they can well generate a number of relational markers that can be found to be Narcissistic in character.
As children grow to maturity in an ecosystem that that interferes with or disrupts normal emotional, social, psychological growth it is not uncommon to observe reactivity to this ecosystem that can act as a conduit by which some the behavior patterns and perhaps the personality of the child becomes filled with relationship stressing behaviors. Generally when discussing relationship destructive behaviors two equal however different patterns appear. The first is the inhibited symptoms of narcissism and the other could be considered unrestrained symptoms of narcissism.
in spite of of which pattern is being expressed by an individual in any relationship there is a creation of interactional dynamics that are frequently exhausting, frustrating, personally painful, and emotionally trying. The remaining text is dedicated to illustrating the differences in the dual symptom structure of narcissism starting with the inhibited symptoms of narcissism and followed by unrestrained symptoms of narcissism.
Inhibited symptoms of narcissism
- Related to the poor quality of attachment and attunement that exists in a traumagenic family ecosystem one can discover that children develop a sense of inferiority, be indecisive with powerful self-doubts, a marked propensity toward feeling ashamed, with a fragility and highly defended ego structure that can activate a relentless search for and strength and control in passive and indirect ways.
- Frequently these are coupled with a marked sensitivity to criticism and a low tolerance for realistic setbacks and difficulties.Traumagenic families are low on stable predictability in their interactions which can greatly strengthen interpersonal confidence problems and trust in others. There exists in many traumagenic families a genuine question about the dependability of others and how much one can trust them. In addition this self-erosion generates envy and jealousy about the possessions, talents and capacity of others, always finding one’s self lacking or not measuring up in meaningful ways.
- Another challenge that is faced by the members of a family that could be characterized as traumagenic can be a without of direction that may appear as aimlessness and shallow or poor patterns of commitment. This aimlessness is related to inadequate reinforcement for successful performance, or a without of faith in one’s ability to create a meaningful change in an overt outcome, coupled with doubt that one can be influential in the individual’s own daily life.
- When members of a traumagenic family are operating within the inhibited symptoms of narcissism one would freely notice a continued flux or shifting in values to gain favor, gain control, or protect a fragile ego structure. This highly defensive stance is recurrently associated with pathological lying, materialistic lifestyles already if the family is very poor, delinquent tendencies, and a strong disregard for authority or social institutions.
- As the child grows to adulthood in the traumagenic family structure it becomes clear that there exists a clash in the desire for loving relationships and the ability to continue love. The loved one is seen as a possession, that is there to serve the ego based needs of the individual, which impairs one’s capacity for viewing the romantic relationship as having separate interests, rights, and values
Unrestrained symptoms of narcissism
- The separate but equally disturbing pattern that can develop in a traumagenic family structure is the production of members that possess a strong sense of grandiosity and entitlement. This dynamic may cause a perpetual mental course of action where one is preoccupied with fantasies of noticeable success united with an undue sense of uniqueness, seeming self-sufficiency that is mostly hollow and protective of a fragile sense of self.
- One of the hallmarks of unrestrained narcissism is found in repeatedly shallow relationships of a comparatively intense character that require others to provide emotional, psychological or social tribute. This is associated with an emotional posture of scorn for those who will not pay the tribute, a genuine without of empathy for those who they proportion a relationship with
- Unrestrained narcissism often takes on the disguise of cordiality and social charm as a tool to exercise strength and control in the social and interpersonal ecosystem within which they function. There is an intense goal that can join this dynamic which is attached to a excursion for the psychological and social tribute of others admiration. There is also an omnipresent idiosyncratic personal morality that can be incredibly destructive to relationships in general. This is often manifested by marital instability, seductiveness but unsatisfying relationships or extramarital affairs and promiscuity.
In conclusion, it is easy to understand how poor quality or insecure attachment and attunement are adversely impacted by the interactional patterns of a traumagenic family in addition as how narcissism can freely grow out of these dynamics. Many professionals and most laymen that encounter the narcissist tend to react quite negatively and with tremendous judgment and condemnation which has little influence on improving the interactions in any substantial way. The challenge is to create environments where true attachment and attunement can take place while triggering the old familiar and well used patterns more than absolutely necessary. Generally this is a matter that will require psychotherapy to conquer the weight firmly placed on the shoulders of those who never asked for this burden to be theirs.