Bigfoot, Nellie, and the Nice Narcissist – Myths or Reality? Exploring “White Knight” Narcissism

Is there such a thing as a “nice narcissist?” Or are they on par with other mythical creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster? Tony goes on a deep dive into Dr. Elinor Greenberg’s article “White Knight & Black Knights: Pro-Social & Anti-Social NPD,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201804/white-knights-black-knights-pro-social-anti-social-npd and he starts the episode with another listener example of narcissistic confabulation and references the article “Coping with Narcissistic Confabulators” by Dr. Sharie Stines, LPCC https://psychcentral.com/pro/recovery-expert/2015/12/coping-with-narcissistic-confabulators#1

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[00:00:07] Hey everybody, welcome to episode 39 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, host of the Virtual Couch Podcast. And let’s get to today’s topic. Actually, before I do that, a little bit of business. You can still go to Tony over Macomb Workshop and there you can find a 90 minute workshop on all the things that you need to know about what a healthy marriage can look like. I go over my four pillars of a connected conversation and emotional immaturity what abandonment and attachment looks like, what it means to be two differentiated whole people in a relationship. And I’m still going to beat that drum all day long that I just don’t believe we have those tools from the factory. You don’t know what you don’t know. And so you can always improve your marriage. Now, I realize that a lot of the people that are here that are listening to waking up to narcissism may be in a challenging marriage. And so sometimes I really do feel like let’s at least [00:01:00] for one of you, I mean, it would be ideal if it’s both, but for one of you, let’s just get that information out there of what it looks like to be in a healthy relationship, because you may not have ever seen one model, which might be the reason why you might not be in the best marriage or relationship right now.

[00:01:15] And if for some reason and I and I’m understanding from the feedback that I’m receiving that I know that a lot of people that are in narcissistic relationships, there may be financial abuse along with the emotional or spiritual or there’s a lot of different types of abuse that are prevalent in narcissistic relationships. And so if you are experiencing financial abuse, if you don’t have access to the finances, if that is something that you have asked for and you’ve been told that you don’t need access to the finances or that whoever the breadwinner is is the one that makes the money. So they’ll deal with the money. It’s their money. And you want access to anything that I talk about. Send me an email to Contact@tonyoverbay.com or go to my website and send me a message [00:02:00] through the message part of my website. And I have an amazing assistant, Naomi, that is helping me out now with the tremendous amount of emails and feedback from waking up to narcissism as well as the virtual couch. And we are putting together resources and if you cannot afford the workshop, it’s $19, and if you can’t, then I’ll give it to you anyway. I just want you to have that information. And if you are looking for access to my women’s narcissistic or women’s Facebook group, private women’s Facebook group for women in relationships with narcissistic fill in the blank. It could be a spouse, it could be a sibling, it could be a parent, it could be a coworker, a boss, an organization, an institution.

[00:02:40] Then you can also reach out there as well. And I’m getting more and more emails and we’re putting those together for future episodes. We’re going to do more question and answer episodes because Naomi is putting together some incredible lists of questions, examples. I please if you just want to even express yourself in writing and send that to me and I will, I [00:03:00] read them. And then I see you, I see you, I hear you. And even if you don’t want anything ever talked about on an episode, you can put that in there as well. But just I appreciate every bit of feedback that I’m getting and boy, not trying to sound needy, anxiously attached or any of that sort of thing. But I am so grateful for the people that are able to review the podcast. I, I will see those reviews that come through and they just warm my heart. And here’s the part where I’m not trying to be manipulative and, but I also every now and again, you get a good old nurse. This too, I think, has been sent the podcast and then they’re hilarious to read. The unfortunate part is it reminds me of my ultrarunning days where you could be cruising along at a pretty nice pace, and then you hit a nice two or three mile uphill somewhere at mile 30, 40, 50 of a race.

[00:03:48] And you are just crawling up that thing and it completely ruined your time because you might walk a 25 minute mile up an incline and you won’t run a series of two minute miles to make up for that time. So it’s just fascinating [00:04:00] that so many of the positive reviews are just wonderful. And then one person comes in and says, this guy is a buffoon. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I love a recent one and I don’t even really like to give energy to this. I really don’t. But it just said something like he just reads other people’s articles. Yes, I do. Very open about that and read them comments on them, share my experiences, stories around them. And that’s typically because I really like to come from a place of at best I can some nice evidence based data. So I just thought that was really funny. The unfortunate part is that comes with also a one star review. So that’s like running that 25 minute mile up the hill. So if you feel so inclined, want to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast, that is fantastic. And also I’m trying to put more of the content on YouTube. I’m recording the video right now so you can go find the Virtual Couch YouTube channel and subscribe there. That would be that would be awesome.

[00:04:51] So thank you for all that you’re doing. One final I’ll make this one really quick because again, the audience here I know can be different than the audience on the virtual couch. But I have been [00:05:00] starting to make announcements of my newest venture, which is the magnetic marriage. That’s my marriage course. The Magnetic Marriage podcast. We’re going to be coaching couples live. They’re going to be anonymous. And I’m going to I’m going to coach couples and record that and provide that in podcast format because I find it fascinating. I had a guest on the virtual couch who I love, Dr. Jennifer Finlayson, and she has an amazing podcast where she does a similar thing. And as a therapist, you can learn so much from listening to how someone else coaches or does therapy. And I know a lot of people that are unable to go to therapy. Maybe their spouse does not believe in therapy again, maybe they’re controlling the finances. It is it can be so helpful just to listen to what a therapy session sounds like. I will have more information on that coming up soon. That is going to be a subscription based podcast. But if you happen to be somebody that maybe you and your spouse are dealing with, a narcissistic mother in law or father in law, and you’re not quite sure how to navigate communicating about that. Or do we tell the kids, there are a lot of things that we we try to [00:06:00] answer those questions here.

[00:06:01] And you’re interested in being a couple that might be I would coach and then maybe offer that up on a podcast again. It’s completely anonymous. Then please send a an email to info at Tony Macomb and put in the title podcast guest or interested in being an anonymous podcast. Couple something to that effect and we’ll sort that out. Let’s get to the topic today. I promised on the last episode or maybe two episodes ago that I was going to talk about this concept of the White Knight narcissist, because this is another fascinating topic. So we’re going to get to that. But I wanted to tell a quick story based off of an interaction I had with someone recently, and it was one of the most fascinating conversations that gave an example of confabulation. Now, when I learn a new concept like White Knight Narcissism, I just dive into it. I love what I do and I just want to know everything about it. And I want you to know from an emotional, mature standpoint that it is very clear that we don’t know what we don’t know and there’s [00:07:00] a lot more to know. So I want to take ownership and admit that even as a someone who is a therapist, who works with personality disorders and has a podcast literally with the term narcissist in its title that I sure don’t pretend to know everything about narcissism.

[00:07:15] And so I love when people say, Have you ever heard of. So that was what happened with narcissistic confabulation and that’s what’s happening with White Knight narcissism. And so I mentioned that because I’ve been interviewed a fair amount recently about narcissism versus emotional immaturity. And I really just talk about the signs of emotional maturity are saying, oh, I didn’t know and I don’t have to break down someone else’s worldview if they are trying to give me information, I don’t have to pretend. Oh yeah, I’m aware of that. I know that author. If I don’t, it’s much more mature to take ownership and just say, Oh, I’m not familiar with that or I don’t know of that, or Can you tell me more about that? It doesn’t make me less than so. I think it’s interesting with a lot of the feedback I get when people are talking about the narcissist in their life, whether [00:08:00] it’s a male, female, whether it’s spouse, grandparent, parent, that is it someone who constantly says, Oh, I already knew that, or I was aware of that, or I know I know more than you about that because I’ll hear the people in my office talk about let’s just take the the spouse, the husband of someone recently saying that her husband knows more than the doctor knows, obviously more than me, the therapist, and just has an opinion about everything.

[00:08:27] And none of that opinion ends with the words. I don’t know. I’ll have to take a look at that. So a sign of emotional maturity is being willing to be curious and not feel like everything is an attack if you are being told something that you weren’t aware of. This example of confabulation. I have been seeing that everywhere. And again, it’s based off of the concept that we all have gaps in memory. That’s part of the human experience. We don’t remember everything exactly, and our brain doesn’t like fragments, so it will fill in the pieces. But at [00:09:00] a very base level, when we go back and think that we remember that we were having a conversation and it was it was at the beach and it was when we used to own the blue car. And your spouse might say, I don’t think it was on the beach. I remember us having that conversation actually in our driveway and I thought you were by our red car. And the true point is, it doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s the red car or the blue car. Were you at the beach? Were you at home? And that’s why in my four pillars of a connected conversation, my second pillar is you can’t tell somebody that’s ridiculous or I don’t believe you, even if that’s how you feel, because that’s just going to take the conversation out of the weeds.

[00:09:35] So confabulation is pretty normal because we are going to have these gaps in memory. Now, where narcissistic confabulation comes into play is when the narcissist fills in the gaps with very, very specific details that either paint them as the absolute hero and that you didn’t know anything about the situation or they are the victim. But whatever it is, it paints them in a position that fits whatever their worldview is or however they are. [00:10:00] They feel that they need to show up in that situation to get their narcissistic supply and what’s. Fascinating about this is when you start to really look at emotional immaturity and narcissism, they will have very, very vivid, specific memories and details of situations that they were absolutely the most amazing person in the room or when everyone was against them. But when you say, hey, didn’t you say yesterday that you were going to take out the garbage? I didn’t say that. But then they can go back and tell you of a time when your kids were little and and you were a bumbling fool when it came to parenting. And you don’t even remember, but you used to continually ask for their advice. And they were the hero and the savior. When is that the parent of the kids that they’re talking about that that was absolutely not the case. And that, if anything, your experience with the narcissist in general or in question was one where they rarely ever helped parent your kid.

[00:10:55] Let’s just say hypothetically the grandparent role. So narcissistic confabulation is just fascinating. [00:11:00] Another way that I saw it show up recently in my office, which was really interesting, was someone was describing that when they’re their ex, when it comes to co-parenting, when their ex gives them a ton of details, then that’s actually when they know that there is something that needs to be looked into because typically they just don’t offer a lot of detailed information. And I think I mentioned on the episode where I talked about confabulation that I just have become obsessed with interrogation videos. I was literally watching one before I hit record to the point where it I almost have run out of time to record this episode because it’s a pretty lengthy one. But the person is just giving so many details about these break ins and what was going on at this particular time and where he was. And the story just doesn’t line up because when you give so many details, it tends to go where the person is. Has the story so crafted in their mind to make sense to them that they have missed a lot of the blind spots? And then even the interrogator in this particular [00:12:00] video I’m watching has now started to slowly point out to the person being interrogated that boy, you sure don’t remember a lot of details about this other thing that you just talked about, but this one, a lot of details.

[00:12:12] And now they were just getting to the good part, which is why it was hard to pull myself away, where now they have just he realizes that his story doesn’t make sense. And you watch the narcissist confabulation in real time. So right now he’s on the ropes and he’s saying, Oh, I meant this. Or Your cameras may not have caught anybody, but I don’t know cameras. They don’t work all the time because the person really was there that I’m talking about interacting with. So the narcissistic confabulation is fascinating. I pulled up another article from Psych Central by taking ownership of this. It’s called Coping with Narcissistic and Tabulators Essay. I’m reading an article that was written by Dr. Sherry Steines, and this is back from 2015. But Dr. Steines just says in general, she said confabulation in the dictionary, it’s defined as a memory disorder, affecting a person’s ability to remember facts accurately [00:13:00] without an intent to deceive. Now, confabulation involves misinterpreted or misrepresented memories, where the confabulation is stating the recollection of events with a distorted or completely false account of what occurred. And I appreciate that. She goes on to say that confabulation is tend to be quite commonplace and in everyday conversation people may embellish a childhood memory as they reminisce about the past. And the purpose is usually to make a story bigger than life and maybe get a little bit of attention to the person telling the story.

[00:13:28] Because a lot of times we may want that spotlight. And the more I learned about confabulation, the more I realize that I have absolutely bumped up stories, stories from my past. And then what Dr. Staines talks about. She quotes Dr. Sam Beckman, self-proclaimed narcissist and expert on narcissism, who I quoted in his article on confabulation. But he says the rules of confabulation differ for narcissists and for ordinary individuals. He believes that the very character of narcissists is a piece of fiction created to arm themselves from hurt and to nurture their strong sense of grandiosity. The narcissist, delusional [00:14:00] self defense strategies prevent them from seeing the reality of themselves to the narcissist. Confabulation is reality. So the story to the nurses, the reality, the internal landscape of who they are as a person or what it feels like to be them, is that, of course you change the story because there is no way you’re going to take ownership of something. So I’m having this conversation with someone and they talked about interacting with their, I believe it was was an ant that someone who lives within the family system and the ant took them over to her phone and said, Hey, I need you to explain something about some messages here. There’s some you didn’t respond to, some messages and some of the messages that you sent instead of going blue, which is the view on an iPhone, it’s an iMessage, they’re green.

[00:14:46] And if you own an iPhone, you also know that sometimes the person will not have cell service or you may not have cell service and a message will go. It will be sent and it will be green instead of blue. And in this situation, the person was saying that they [00:15:00] then saw on their aunt’s phone that yes. Some of the messages that actually gone green and then. The person said. And quite frankly, I didn’t respond to a lot of the messages because I was trying to set a boundary and I wasn’t going to respond to messages where I knew that there was obvious gaslighting going on. But this is the woman that they were interacting with the aunt. The person I was talking to said that now the aunt said, So I just want you to know that I know that you blocked me and I just let’s just kind of get that out there. And the person that I was talking to said, I stood in my. My healthy ego, my calm, confident self and said, Oh, I didn’t. As a matter of fact, I’ve literally never blocked anyone. I don’t actually even know how to block someone. So the aunt then said, And here comes confabulation, right? The aunt said, You did. I mean, I know you did because I looked it up online. And if the message is green or you didn’t respond, that there’s some messages missing is what she said, then I know you did, and it’s okay.

[00:15:57] It’s all right. Let’s just put that behind us. And [00:16:00] here’s where when you’re trying to help a person interact with a narcissist, it’s to not engage that. If I’m truly staying differentiated and I know that I didn’t delete the messages, then why would I engage? Why would I then try to continually prove to the nurses? But this is the dangerous trap that happens is when someone is in essence calling you out for something that goes so against your character or your nature. That is when it is so difficult. That’s when I talk about you can go 90% of the time not letting them push your buttons because you know that it’s not going to get you anywhere. But then they hit on the one thing maybe your character, maybe they attack your spouse and then it is almost impossible, or they do something to your children and that is when you cannot help but react. I have been in that situation before, so I felt what this person was talking about. So they said at that point, they then just said, You’re you are wrong and I’ll show you on my phone that here’s the green messages. There’s nothing deleted. I didn’t respond. And then they just kind of laughed and said, You did. I know you did.

[00:16:59] I read it in the book, [00:17:00] and whatever you’re saying right now is sad because I know that I know what you did. I hope you can feel the frustration even in me retelling someone else’s story, because that person knows they did not delete messages. They know that they did not block the aunt. They know that is not something they’ve ever done. But then they also realized the aunt had confabulation, a story. The story now was so detailed on her end that, oh, I figured it out. I sent this. You didn’t respond. So obviously that’s when you deleted me. The green messages were part of what you deleted. I Googled it, and so I found something that backs up my claim. And so it is so true that now when you are even engaging or trying to convince the Narcisse otherwise that the narcissist then actually becomes more empowered the more that you argue. That’s the most frustrating thing about when someone is confabulation, when they have confabulation. And that’s what I appreciate. What from the site central article to a narcissist confabulation is reality. So the more you argue [00:18:00] this is why it can be so important to go no contact whenever possible to someone that is truly gaslighting because it is their reality. The confabulation is their reality. They do it in real time and what it feels like to be them is that they will not be wrong.

[00:18:15] They will come up with a reason or they’ll make sense of something to them that has to fit their narrative that it could not be that they have sent messages that were offensive. It could not be that they were at fault at any part of this. And so the more that you argue with the narcissist when they have fabricated their experience or a story, the worse it gets because they are becoming more empowered and you are becoming more crazy, quite frankly, feeling crazy. Continue to send in examples of confabulation. I feel like that’s one that we’re going to be talking about for a long time, because you do you start to see it everywhere. You really do. And it really shows those signs of emotional immaturity. I don’t think I told this story. I think I told it on an interview somewhere else. But once I learned a confabulation, there was even an experience recently where I [00:19:00] was. My wife and I were going out of town for the weekend and my wife has been away for a few months attending to my daughter, who was in a really serious accident. And she felt very bad about being away from my son partially through his senior year. My son’s been great. He’s a senior. He’s a boy. And he’s I feel like in that scenario, his job is to start to differentiate and pull away from the family because he’s starting to become his own person.

[00:19:24] So when I would have these conversations with him, I would he would say, hey, I understand. I’m so grateful that mom can be there for his sister and no problem. So my wife is back from where she has been for a few months and we were going to go help another daughter move. And so she simply just said, hey, did you tell our son? Did you tell him that we’re going to be gone? And in that moment I said, yeah, I mentioned it to him and he’s he said, no problem. He’s actually looking forward to the weekend. Now, that’s where I realized what confabulation really looks like. Here’s the truth. In that matter, I can fabricated the story. I wanted my wife to feel okay because she felt so bad about being away for so long. And now here we were and we [00:20:00] were going to be gone for another weekend. So I also now in hindsight. Realized that there was a little bit of that confabulation in the story because it made me sound like a really good dad to have this important conversation with him and lay out that we’re going to be gone this weekend. And how are you feeling? And, you know, your mom and I really care about you. And instead, the reality was I said, Hey, bud, mom and I are going to be gone this weekend. Are you cool? And he said, yes, there’s the story.

[00:20:25] Now, put it through a little bit of that emotional maturity or the confabulation on my part. And I wanted my wife to feel better about the fact that because I know that she’s felt guilty about that. So when I said, yeah, we had a good talk and he’s he’s good with it, he’s excited. In reality, he said, Yes, I’m fine. So even that confabulation piece can be so small. But just once you are aware of it, I think it’s important to start to check in. And so why would I be afraid? And this is where maybe it’s not necessarily from a fear standpoint. Maybe the confabulation is coming from. Actually, some of the stuff [00:21:00] we’ll talk about today about white knight narcissism, of wanting to be the hero in the scenario, wanting to make my wife feel comfortable and wanting to feel that I have this amazing connection with my son. Yes, great conversation. He’s awesome. We’re good. So just being aware of that is a really important piece. And so I have even found myself in the last few weeks in situations where I may have been ready to bump up a story by 1% and just just gone with the truth, gone with the absolute truth, because that is the truth. And if someone doesn’t like my story because it isn’t as grandiose, okay? Because that’s the emotional maturing process is not needing external validation.

[00:21:39] Every time I turn around, every story doesn’t need to be the one that I was the most heroic, the most grandiose, the best, because that is just coming from a place of insecurity. But I need to be okay with my own experience of life and then be able to show up authentically and not worry that if I don’t have a cool enough story, [00:22:00] if I wasn’t the hero or if I wasn’t the victim, that then for some reason people won’t care about me. So I just I was so eager to share that confabulation example. So please send me any of those that you are experiencing as well. So let’s, let’s get to this concept of white knight narcissist. And I found a lot of different articles about white knight narcissism. But I am going to turn back to someone that I have quoted so much now. Eleanor Greenberg, PhD in her column. Her section of articles on Psychology Today is around understanding narcissism. And as a matter of fact, she, I believe, is author of a couple of books on narcissism. So it says Eleanor Greenberg, PhD, is a Gestalt therapy trainer who specializes in teaching the diagnosis and treatment of borderline narcissistic and schizoid adaptations. And you can find her at Eleanor Greenberg dot com and I’ll have a link to that in the show notes. And Eleanor, anybody has pointed any of the things that I’ve talked about because I’ve referenced you often.

[00:22:57] I just gave you a lot of credit in a very large [00:23:00] interview that soon be coming out about two or three weeks. But I need to reach out and have her on the podcast. So I’m going to read a lot of this article that she wrote called White Knights and Black Knights Pro Social and Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is from 2018. So she lays out that all people who have narcissistic personality disorders are hyper focused on self esteem issues. They all develop a variety of strategies that are aimed at enhancing or stabilizing their shaky self esteem. And she said that at this point lately, she said she had been experimenting with looking at her narcissistic clients through a new lens. Are they prosocial or are they antisocial? And so she said she’s making this distinction and I really enjoy this. I think I’m going to see if I can work this a little bit into my experience right now. Three factors What are their intentions? How do they get their narcissistic supply and what type of impression do they want other people to have about them? So she talked about prosocial narcissists, those she said, my narcissistic clients who I am terming prosocial are eager to help other people. They want to be seen as good guys. They [00:24:00] are the people who often lend their neighbors a helping hand when they get their garage door stuck open, she said.

[00:24:05] Or if they are wealthy, they donate money to build a new wing for a pediatric hospital. Of course, they want to get credit for their good deeds, but they do also add a lot of value to the world around them. And I’m going to read an example here in a little bit that talks about what that can look like in a family where often and this is why I was so drawn to this concept of white knight narcissism or what she’s calling out prosocial narcissists. It’s the people that if you are in a relationship and all you hear about is your spouse, whether it be your husband or wife or just this most amazing person out in the public. And they are doing so many things for other people. But you don’t see that at home. At home they are detached, disconnected. Their only their only desire is to control in the family dynamic. They don’t necessarily help out with things and they have everybody in the home kind of on high alert of what version of this person I’m going to see. Are they going to be the angry one, the jolly one, the one who is tight with money, the one who is spending money. [00:25:00] But I feel like I have so many emails that talk about that version of what? Is going on in a home and people are feeling crazy because their spouse is adored and loved outside of the home.

[00:25:11] So I feel like that is what we’re talking about with prosocial narcissists. She said, antisocial, narcissist. She said, My narcissistic clients, what I am terming antisocial are basically takers. They are in it for themselves. They’re quite happy to take advantage of other people or exploit their weaknesses for personal gain. And she said many of them in essence want to be feared by other people. She said at their worst they get the narcissistic supply from humiliating other people and destroying what others have built. Now I feel like you may know an incredibly antisocial narcissist who just everything they want to beat everyone down, everything that anyone else does is dumb and bad. And I can’t believe they’re doing that. And I want you to agree with me. And I can’t even believe the things that you do, because in essence, to protect their fragile ego, they need to be the keepers of all truth and fun and knowledge. Eleanor said that we pick it up here. Oh, she said, at their worst, [00:26:00] they get their narcissistic supplies from humiliating other people. She said they often fit the typical description of toxic or malignant narcissists. They take pleasure in other people’s failures and they enjoy other people’s unhappiness. She said not only do they not add value to the world around them, but they often actively thwart other people’s efforts to improve things for everyone. And I could give so many examples of just seeing this.

[00:26:20] This is the person that they just suck the life out of a relationship or the room or a situation. And you spend so many emotional calories and just trying to make sense of trying to figure out how do I interact with how do I buffer the kids from? And I feel like that is that antisocial narcissist and they can just suck the life out of you. That’s where I have so many people that say they lose their sense of self are typically when they are dealing with these antisocial narcissists. So then she goes on and starts talking about where she gets the term white knight and black knight. And that comes, of course, from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. So Eleanor said that as a young person, she read stories about King Arthur [00:27:00] and the Knights of the Round Table. She said King Arthur’s knights swore an oath to go out and do good deeds and protect the weak and the innocent. So they self identified as heroes. They there were other knights in these stories, however, that self identified as powerful and destructive anti-heroes, and instead of protecting the innocent, they destroyed and dominated them. So she brings up the concept of white knight versus black knight. So she says in the Arthurian legend, the scary and egotistical knights who roam the countryside and only fought for their personal gain were often depicted in all black armor.

[00:27:33] So she said, I’ve come to think of them as black knights for short, she said the other idealistic knights who fought to save others she thinks of as white knights. And one could say that both of these groups lived to win and saw themselves as superior beings. So I love the distinguishing the distinction there of both of them were going to win. Both of them felt superior. But one was there to save the world, to save the good, be loved and adored. And in other words, they are to just dominate [00:28:00] and burn down the villages behind them. So she said the White Knights were prosocial and sought to be constructive forces while the Black Knights were antisocial and destructive forces. So she said, Now, leaving aside the question of whether these fictional black knights were sometimes psychopaths rather than nurses, she said, I would like to talk about how this analogy might apply to her narcissistic clients, and maybe this will apply to the narcissist in your life, she said in the article. She’s being very upfront and I feel like I’ve made this distinction on many occasions. She said that she is mainly discussing male nurses, but she knows that there are female versions of these prosocial and antisocial types who go by different names, such as the film Vital or the Sirens, and the Greek legends whose singing drew them into their doom, or the powerful prosocial fairy godmothers and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which made me just laugh because I’ve never quite looked at the fairy godmother as a narcissist.

[00:28:53] But if you really do look at this wanting to be adored, loved, grandiose sense of self and there to just save the world. But [00:29:00] I would imagine that that she really does. I mean, in Cinderella, she’s got a whole song about herself, right? We got a little Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo or however that thing goes, she said. But she’s leaving those for a different article now. The White Knight nurses many of her nurses clients are pro social. Their greatest desire is to do some lasting good in the world for which they will be remembered. In fact, they often describe themselves as do gooders, she said. They take jobs at nonprofits. They do volunteer work for charitable causes. They do favors for their neighbors, and they have a social conscience. They are white knights and that their basic desire is to help others. They almost never express the desire to hurt anyone else. Now, despite their overall pro social orientation, they typically enter therapy with the same difficulties that all nurses have. And here’s where I want to step into my now healthy ego and talk about my own emotional immaturity and say that I know that I have felt or have had these tendencies and I would encourage anyone to read the book no more. Mr. Nice Guy.

[00:29:58] Bye bye. Glover and [00:30:00] I hesitated for a while and reading it and even the beginning of it. To me was a little bit bumpy, but then it just talks about this nice guy syndrome and I feel like that is a bit of this pro-social white knight narcissist where I will save the world. I am a nice guy and I will do all of these things for others. And then what Glover lays out so well is though, that is a version of a person who is doing good to others so that they will then meet that person’s needs so that you will be adored, so that your wife will love you and want to be more intimate with you. So your kids will say, Man, Dad, you’re the best. Tell me more about your high school stories. And what Glover talks about is he calls those covert contracts that we are almost testing our spouse, testing our kids, testing people around us, that I will do these things in expectation for you to love and adore me. And I know, I know I have had that nice guy syndrome before and in reality the nice guy syndrome. Then it becomes quite unattractive because now when those needs aren’t met, [00:31:00] then the white knight narcissist or the nice guy person, the nice guy syndrome has a tendency to almost withdraw and pout then at times too, until they get those needs met then and that is almost how they just gained their supply.

[00:31:11] And now everything’s good again. Now they show up again and they repeat that same cycle over and over. And so the people closest to them are the ones that they find typically don’t meet their needs or don’t even give them that narcissistic supply. So then I feel like too often they look outward in the relationship to the community, to their church congregation, to the civic organizations, and that is where they want to get their narcissistic supply. I want to read an example of an email that someone sent me, and I’m so grateful for this. They are talking about their husband and they said that their husband has always been in leadership roles in their church, in their religious congregation. They’ve served in multiple positions of authority with the men and the congregation, the youth and the congregation, even the person that presided over the congregation for a number of years. And now that he’s even taken a more active role [00:32:00] in the group in their area, so several congregations together. She said he is charismatic, he is well known. He is seen as very accomplished. He’s a wonderful speaker. He talks about the large I love this larger than life tales from his youth that make him look like he was. You fill in the blank adventure hero, someone who has escaped death on numerous occasions, someone who has saved lives. And that’s where I want to say confabulation.

[00:32:23] Anyone. She said that the tales, of course, make him look like a hero and somebody that always learned these valuable life lessons and somebody that people could turn to. Because this person has lived all the amazing experiences in the world. Everyone probably, I imagine, wants to be this guy. She said that he has purchased large he has made large expenses for other people. He has funded people to go on missionary trips across the world. He has volunteered at just very public disasters that have happened in their area. And it’s just done any kind of service that he could find. And to then have other people say, man, this guy is one of the best guys that I’ve ever been [00:33:00] around, she says. I have so many people tell me what a wonderful person he is and how lucky I am to be married to him, she said. What they don’t know is the hell and the loneliness that they go through every day outside of the service. This person is a workaholic who travels all the time and when he is home he is on his computer, he is on his phone and rarely available, rarely does he eat dinner. They have a lot of kids. They have several kids. And he has never attended a child’s doctor’s appointment. He’s never coached a child sports team. He didn’t get up at night with any of the kids that I mentioned, that she had a lot of kids and he’s never changed his schedule to help out at home.

[00:33:37] He wakes up and does his own thing in the morning. He never takes thought of what her schedule is or what the kids schedule is, and she’s had to continually try to, in essence, go around behind him and then clean up messes that he’s left with his lack of attentiveness. She said that he is happy if their meals on the table, clean clothes, and that the kids are getting wherever they need to be because [00:34:00] that helps him look like the family is perfect. She said that recently there had been a change in the local leadership and there was a position of pretty big authority that was up for grabs. And there were people that came into the area and were interviewing people in essence almost for their righteousness or the vibe that they put off, the spirit that they put off. And so when he knew that that was coming up, then he doubled and tripled and quadrupled his efforts to be seen as perfect and skipping a lot of the story. He did not end up getting this position and she said that she was going to be very open if she was interviewed about what she thought about if her husband was going to be offered this position. And she said she was ready to just be very candid about the narcissistic abuses she had suffered.

[00:34:45] But she said he ended up not getting asked, not even getting interviewed further. And when she talked to him about it later, she said that he was very short and he was giving her the silent treatment. And eventually he when she probed more, he said he just wasn’t he [00:35:00] must not have been good enough. And so he was so angry with himself. And she said it was. Like he had lost a contest or almost an election. He said it was one of the oddest reactions that she had seen. She thought that he might be relieved to not have such a weighty, demanding position because he already had very limited time, especially with the family. But no, because she realized at that point that he thrives on recognition and looking like a hero that he gave. And I love I love. And it breaks my heart with the way she said that he had given up on being the hero of their family a long time ago and that he had sensed that since the family doesn’t see him as the hero and the family hasn’t aligned their priorities, in essence to give him that supply or praise him on a regular basis, that then he had looked elsewhere. So I feel like this is the concept of white knight narcissism in not even in a nutshell, in great detail. And I’m so thankful for her and for writing about that.

[00:35:56] Going back to Eleanor’s article, she says that despite the [00:36:00] we’re going back to the White Knight or the prosocial narcissist, she said they all still have the same difficulties that all narcissists have and let’s run down these unstable self esteem. They feel as if their self esteem is always on the line. Like this example escape. Almost every situation is experienced in terms of how it might impact their self esteem, how will it look to others and how will that affect them? And I love that this is where I talked several episodes ago. I think on the Am I the narcissist episode, which that one has probably been downloaded thousands more times than any other one, which I’m so grateful for, because that’s where we really start to introduce the concept of emotional immaturity. But she said the narcissists in general have a lack of whole object relation. Whole object relations is the ability to see oneself and others in an integrated and realistic manner that simultaneously includes both liked and disliked traits that it’s okay. We all have things that may bother us about someone and things that we adore and love by someone. This is where we we start to notice that the nurse is typically wants to just live in [00:37:00] black and white, all or nothing worlds. She said that nurses also have a lack of object constancy. So object constancy is the ability to maintain positive emotional feelings for somebody that you like, including yourself when you feel angry or hurt or disappointed with the person or they are no longer physically present.

[00:37:16] So this is where the you may have done amazing, wonderful things, but then you criticized or you even just said no to the nurses. And that is that is viewed as absolute criticism. You are now telling them they were a horrible husband and father and they will lash out and do anything to defend their fragile ego, including gaslighting, confabulation, anger, whatever that looks like, withdrawal. So lack of object constancy. And this is one that I haven’t heard her talk about before. A binary sense of self. So this is where we were talking earlier. They only see two possibilities either they are special and perfect or they are worthless and defective. And when they go worthless and defective, your job is to rescue them. That is what becomes your role. And that can just be exhausting and draining because when someone is looking for external validation, when they feel bad about themselves, [00:38:00] again, I will say this every time. They don’t even know what they need, but they just need you to fix it. And if you don’t say the right things when they’ve withdrawn, when they’re seeing themselves as worthless and defective, if you don’t get it right and chances are you won’t now you don’t even you don’t even appreciate them.

[00:38:16] And the sad part is, this is where they go, a little kid on the inside, and they just feel broken and damaged. And the only model they know to get out of that hole is to then at some point get back into a one up position and then make sure and put someone else down to make themselves feel better, she says. Status, consciousness. They strive for high status. They admire those above them, and they’re acutely conscious of their own place in the hierarchy. And that hierarchy is fascinating when you start looking at introducing some tension into relationships. Oftentimes some of the stories that I hear are the narcissist is is typically not very kind to waiters, waitresses, people like that, people that they obviously view as one down. If it is somebody that they view as higher status, then they are going to be so nice to that person. And if it’s [00:39:00] somebody that they feel like is on equal footing, then that is somebody that they must compete against, that they must then establish this hierarchy or taking a one up position. She talks about devaluation of blaming. She says narcissists hold the mistaken belief that when something goes wrong and listen to this one so good, someone needs to be blamed, she said. Unfortunately, they equate being at fault to being worthless and defective. So this makes them try to find ways to rationalize shifting the blame to somebody else.

[00:39:26] When they’re unable to do so, they may blame themselves, and then they will spiral down into shame based, self hating depression. So imagine a world where things just happen. And this is where I say in my four pillars of a connected conversation that pillar one is waking up in the morning and trying to hurt somebody else or just do something destructive. Now, in the narcissistic vain or the extreme emotional immaturity, I put a part 1.5 of my pillars or a section B, which is or there’s a reason why somebody is doing something. And the reason I bring that up at this point is that if I’m thinking [00:40:00] of an exchange, my buddy Preston, Pug Meyer, who helped me put together the Magnetic. Of course, when we were filming the course this last round, we were filming a bunch of modules and I knew I could find it sooner. I would go look this up, but we recorded for hours one day and he responded back and he said, I can’t even believe this happened. I am so sorry. I know you’re going to be frustrated, but we lost the whole file. He had been moving some files around and had, I think his computer hard drive was full and in the process lost the file. So hours that we’d recorded was gone. And I was so I just felt so happy, proud of myself because I just I really didn’t feel like, are you kidding me? Or because there’s no need to put a what is the blame game do? Does it make me feel better that I can now say, How dare you do that? Because what am I pretending not to know that I haven’t done silly things? I have.

[00:40:47] I double booked the podcast and a couple of clients yesterday and I just had to respond and reach out to the podcast guests and to say, My bad, I believe that one. It’s just it’s so empowering to say [00:41:00] it doesn’t there doesn’t have to be some dramatic oh, my gosh, it happened. It happened. So in that interaction that I had with Preston, I sent him back a text that said, Hey, seriously, that happened. I know that it wasn’t like he stopped the hit stop on the recording button, gave it a couple of hours and said, Oh, I know what I’m going to do. I’m deleting this bad boy and let’s see what Tony does. And truthfully, even if that had been the case, which I know it wasn’t, then I would know there’s a reason why there’s something that had gone on in his childhood, that sort of thing. So devaluation and blaming, not necessary. And then Eleanor says, also, we’re always talking about the concept of low emotional empathy. One might think that because of their overall prosocial personal goals, that they would have more emotional empathy than other narcissists.

[00:41:43] But unfortunately, it’s not the case. They do have intellectual empathy, the ability to think about how other people may react and they may use this instead. But that was a really interesting concept of intellectual empathy, because that is going to be based more in logic of, well, this would make sense to me, but then if you really break that down, it would make sense [00:42:00] to me, the narcissist of how someone should feel. So then if they don’t, then they are wrong. And I will be sure to let them know. See, give us one example. Let me let me go through this one quickly. We’ll give a little bit on the black night nurse system. We’ll we’ll wrap things up. So she gives an example, Sylvia and Hal, the do gooder, white knight, narcissist. She said from the outside, Halle looked like a perfect husband. Everybody was always telling Sylvia how lucky she was to be married to such a nice man. The truth was more complicated. Hal, the White Knight narcissist, was on his best behavior outside of the home. He had a smile for everyone was always ready to help a stranger with directions or his neighbor with the home project. He appeared calm, helpful and kind. Hal even worked a do gooder job where his main task was to convince rich donors to donate money to a program that helped poor children get extra tutoring with their homework and prepare them for college.

[00:42:43] Sounds amazing, she said. Unfortunately, though, when Hal was not on public display, he took off his do gooder mask and could be avoidant and mean. He had stopped trying to impress Sylvia with his goodness a long time ago. Just like the email that I read earlier, Sylvia frequently complained about, Oh, now he took her for granted and basically did [00:43:00] whatever he wanted at home without worrying about how Sylvia would be affected by his actions. So it really just became the HAL Show at home. Sylvia frequently complained about how hard it was to get any love and attention from Hal unless they were on public display. She said that sometimes she felt like a prop in a photo shoot of his per his perfect marriage that he could post on social media sites. She was hurt that he spent all of his available energy on causes while neglecting her needs. So there we go. Pro social, white knight, narcissist. Now the black knight narcissist. She said when she first started her practice, she wasn’t yet trained in the treatment of personality disorders. What I can resonate or that that makes sense I, I don’t feel like any therapist going in knows that’s what we’re going to be running into. We find our way into that population. And then it does almost become empowering because it is so predictable. It truly is. So she said that she wasn’t trained yet. She said she was a bit naive and assumed that everybody who came for therapy wanted help and had a desire to solve their problems.

[00:43:56] I soon found that there was a subgroup of narcissistic clients who wanted to focus on [00:44:00] my flaws, not their own. So left to their own devices, they would spend their session complaining about me and the people in their life. They usually had a sadistic streak and seemed to enjoy finding new ways to catch me off guard and devalue as worthless my sincere attempts to help them. What they did in therapy mirrored what they did to everybody else in their life. And I love that she talks about this early on in therapy, and I think this is one of the unfortunate things about therapy. Even the more that people are breaking down the stigma around mental health and more people are seeking out therapy that a narcissist and to an inexperienced therapist, it just becomes their supply. It really does. And so I really feel like you do have to find a seasoned therapist who does not take that bait and who can reflect back. This is where I talk about I can empathize with somebody if they’re telling me, man, you don’t understand or whatever. That’s where you do go into good old therapy mode and say, Tell me more about that. What’s that like when if you feel that I don’t understand, that must be frustrating because they’re trying to push the button so that then I will react and then we don’t ever, ever have to [00:45:00] get back to what how they’re showing up in a room or in a.

[00:45:03] Relationship. So she said that today people who have made that particular narcissistic adaptation or usually termed as toxic or malignant narcissists, and she said these are the narcissus that she is now describing as antisocial. She goes on to give a pretty lengthy example, and I’ll skip that for the sake of time. But if you are familiar with the movie Pretty Woman, then she gives that as the example of the Richard Gere character that he said Edward. He delighted in taking over other men’s companies and disassembling them. And then he also wants to be the hero to the character of Vivian, the prostitute played by Julia Roberts. And she said Edward’s ability to buy Vivian services ensures his position as the dominant one in the relationship. And that’s never in doubt. And even though he later chooses to court her in the form of the white knight rescuer over dreams, she said, at the end of the day, he is still superior. So he has chosen a married woman who must always be grateful to him for giving her everything that she couldn’t get on her own. So he will always be the one with more education, born into a higher social class, and will always have the power [00:46:00] and wealth to rescue her from a life of sexual degradation.

[00:46:02] She said that her clients who have married a black knight narcissist don’t have the happy ending portrayed in Pretty Woman. And that’s the part that I think resonates most deeply with this concept around the Black Knight narcissist, she said most of them come to therapy filled with self doubt and they are psychologically and emotionally broken. After the initial courtship, which we know is love bombing, they report being bullied, blamed, abused. The good moments became fewer and fewer. Their husbands will explode in rage at the slightest provocation and repeatedly tell them how useless, ugly, worthless they are. She said. Initially they fight back, but they found that doing so only prolong the fight and increase the abuse. And so they stay in these relationships. Often they simply give up and give in and eventually they become a shadow of their former self. And if that resonated with you at all, first of all, thank you for listening and just know that you’re on a path. You’re every little thing you do from this point forward, every book you read, every podcast you listen to, even if you join a group and you don’t participate, if you kind of just sit back and observe even the fact that you’re just starting to bring awareness [00:47:00] to the fact that you may be in an unhealthy relationship. Let me tell you about a concept very quickly.

[00:47:04] I wasn’t going into this today. This is over my virtual couch. If you will go find an episode a week or so ago where I talk about implicit and explicit memory. This is from the book The Buddha Brain. It’s amazing. The author, Rick Hanson, says Much as your body is built from the foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences that you have, the flow of experience gradually sculpture your brain, thus shaping your mind. Some of the results can be explicitly recalled like This is what I did last summer and this is how I felt when I was in love. But most of the shaping of your mind remains forever unconscious. This is called implicit memory, and it includes your expectations, your models of relationships, your emotional tendencies. In general outlook implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind, what it feels like to be you based on the slowly accumulating residue of lived experience. That line right there, implicit memory. It establishes the interior landscape of your mind, what it feels like to be you, and it is based on the slowly accumulating residue of lived experiences. [00:48:00] So right now you are adding to those the residue of lived experience. You may not remember the article, you may not remember the podcast, but every time you were listening to that, you are not beating yourself up, not thinking, what’s wrong with me? And you’re starting to take action.

[00:48:14] That what it is going to start to feel like to be you is you are someone who is now becoming more aware and you are starting to take action. And that action might even be first in subconscious moving into conscious. The Buddha brain also is the one that in essence it talks about how you start off by you didn’t even know, you even know you what you didn’t know. And then you know, but you don’t really take much action. That’s part of the process. A lot of people get stuck in that second phase you went from. I wasn’t aware of what I wasn’t aware. Now I’m aware, but I really don’t do a lot about it because it’s scary still and don’t give up. If you’re in that second stage, you’re going to move on to this third stage where you’re going to be aware and you start to take some action. You’re going to raise your emotional baseline, you’re going to get your PhD in gaslighting, you’re going to get out of unhealthy conversations, [00:49:00] and you’re going to start learning how to set boundaries. And that’s where things are going to get a little more difficult. But that means you’re doing it right. And then you’re going to realize fifth thing, if you’re watching this on YouTube, these are my five things of being in relationships with narcissistic people, entities, you name it, but a fifth one, you’ll start to realize that there’s nothing you personally can do or say that will cause them to have the epiphany or aha moment that has to come on their own.

[00:49:24] And part of the way that that they may get to that is by you becoming more emotionally healthy, that is, you start to change that landscape of what it feels that the landscape of your mind, what it feels like to be you based on these slowly accumulating residue of lived experience, it will change the dynamic of the relationship. And it may, will, it will. It’ll get a little bit uncomfortable. Not a little bit uncomfortable. It will be very uncomfortable for a while. But that’s what I just want to say. You’re doing the right thing. You can’t live in a in a you can’t live your life in this position of feeling like, what’s the point? Or I’m a shell of myself because you were we were all put here to to flourish [00:50:00] and be be present and to find what. Values are gifts and our talents and our abilities and let our lights shine so that others around us, like our kids or people around us, are going to be lifted. It’s not about trying to manage someone else’s worldview or expectation. So if that’s your case, then I highly encourage you to stay on this path of enlightenment, of trying to figure things out and self care and just know that you’re in the right place, you’re on the right path.

[00:50:27] So wrapping this thing up, then Eleanor talks about this is me stalling because I clicked on the wrong tab. Here we go. So she goes on to say, conclusion according to the theoretical system that she’s proposing here, prosocial, narcissist, or those who want to be heroes and get heightened self esteem from doing amazing and wonderful things in the world that help other people antisocial narcissists get their self esteem boost from hurting other people. All narcissists can be difficult to live with, but she said antisocial narcissists are far more destructive to those around them. And she said, By the way, I’m not suggesting that everyone who has made a narcissistic adaptation [00:51:00] neatly falls into one of these two categories. But she’s just suggesting that looking at the characteristic prosocial versus antisocial white knight versus black knight may add value and contribute to a more nuanced way of looking at these adaptations. And I would add that it’s going to help give you more of these life experiences that are going to help you become more of that, what it’s going to feel like to be you of someone who is going to start being able to recognize and notice these traits and tendencies which will eventually allow you to have an appropriate reaction if any is necessary. Thank you for spending your time today on waking up the narcissism. Please again, feel free to write, share your experiences, questions and and I can’t wait to see you next time I’m waking up in narcissism.

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