Whether to Excuse or Not Excuse Your Narcissistic Abuser’s Behavior
Written by Rand Fine
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
Are you struggling with the dilemma of whether to excuse or not to excuse your narcissistic abuser’s behavior? If a personality disorder is a mental illness, is the person truly responsible or accountable for his or her behavior?
Narcissists condition us to sacrifice our needs for theirs. That paired with our sympathetic, forgiving natures causes us to overlook our own suffering and excuse the despicable behavior of our abusers.
Should we excuse them for actions we believe they cannot control? Should we excuse them if they can control their behavior but find it difficult to do so? What if they are in complete control of their behavior?
Some say that narcissists do what they do without conscious regard; that they do not premeditate their campaign of abuse. And when they are functioning on a conscious level they are unable to predict the outcome of their actions or exercise control over their behavior.
Narcissists do lack impulse control. But are they entirely at the mercy of their personality disorder?
The thoughts that propel narcissists into action may be unconsciously experienced, but they are in complete control of how and when they will act on them. They clearly know right from wrong, are able to anticipate the results of their actions, and are fully aware of the penalty others will pay for their choices.
The decision to act or not act on their compulsions is made consciously and deliberately. The suppression of their compulsions is not an option they are willing to take. Why should they? Narcissists don’t care about anyone but themselves.
People only exist as sources of their narcissistic supply; sources of adoration, admiration, and attention. No matter the nature of the “relationship,” one person means no more to them than another does. People are dispensable and interchangeable; merely a means to an end. If one person doesn’t give them what they want, they dispose of them like trash and find their supply elsewhere.
Narcissists satisfy their insatiable hunger for attention at the expense of anyone naïve enough, dependent enough, or willing enough to feed them. They are addicts who will stoop to any level to get their fix. Lacking the ability to empathize, they do not have to experience the implications of what they do to others.
Narcissists are consumed by inner turmoil, conflict and fear. What they fear the most is losing the narcissistic supply they get from others. They alleviate the pressure and anxiety constantly stirring inside them through this compulsive, parasitic behavior. They do not care about or feel responsible for whoever must be sacrificed or expended in the fulfillment of their needs.
Narcissists lack empathy but do not lack emotion. They are highly sensitive, though only experience that sensitivity as it relates to them. They do not experience emotion the way other people do. They have a false self; a powerful defense mechanism that keeps them from having to deeply feel their emotions. The false self keeps them from feeling responsible for anything they do to hurt others.
Pity is experienced only as it relates to themselves and their own personal agenda. Because of their false sense of grandiosity narcissists feel forever victimized. They see life as being unfair to them; feel as if they never get all they deserve. They believe that everyone owes them all the time.
In deciding whether to excuse or not excuse your narcissistic abuser’s behavior consider this. Should you sympathize with a person ruled by her fears; someone who suffers a great deal of emotional pain? No. You should not. Who among us does not have emotional pain and feel fear? And haven’t you suffered a great deal of pain and fear at your abuser’s hands? You are a casualty of her behavior; not the other way around.
The degree to which any human being suffers is directly related to how much he allows these common human emotions to impact his everyday life. The narcissist cowers and victimizes others in the face of his pain and fear. We do not. We draw on our inner strength and courage in the face of our pain and fear.
It is true that narcissists have a personality disorder, but are they mentally ill innocents who know not what they do?
How many times have you witnessed the two faces of your narcissist? How many times have you seen her behave entirely different, with different people, under the exact same circumstances? How many times have you seen her control her behavior when others are there to witness it, and then completely go off on you when no one is there to see it happen? The fact that she only acts out only when she thinks she can get away with it demonstrates the existence of choice.
How many times have you seen your narcissist pouring on the charm with someone he thinks is important, influential, famous, or wealthy? These people are the narcissist’s ideal. It doesn’t matter what the person’s morals or ethics are. Their position in life is the only thing that attracts the narcissist who believes that because he is unique and special he should only engage with other special, rich, or accomplished people. Narcissists are attracted to wealthy people, beautiful people, and successful people who they believe can benefit them in some way or who will enhance their self-image by association.
And while the narcissist can admire these people, she is also envious of them and what they have that she does not. Narcissists are envious of everyone. They envy the fact that others have feelings. They envy others’ houses, education, marriages, children, station in life, careers. They especially envy the fact that others are happy. Making themselves feel better by making other people feel worse, reinforces their sense of omnipotence.
Narcissists do not feel remorse for the abuse they inflict on those closest to them. Have you ever told your abuser that he is hurting your feelings or expressed how badly he is making you feel? Have you ever asked him to stop treating you the way he does? Anyone who loves and cares about you would take your feelings into consideration, but not so for the narcissist. He sees your vulnerability the same way a lion sees a young gazelle. It provokes his predatory urges even more.
It also adds fuel to her fire. It appalls her that you would question her actions. Any suggestion that you see anything she does as less than perfect enrages her. Having lived with a narcissist you understand how terrifying it feels to be the target of narcissistic rage.
Narcissistic rage is a defense mechanism the narcissist’s false self employs to protect his fragile ego. But it is also a control mechanism meant to erode your self confidence, intimidate you, humiliate you, and disable you; all for the purpose of keeping you around so he can continue to feed off of you.
Though the rage may be difficult for someone with narcissistic personality disorder to control, the motive used to keep you in line is deliberate. These predators are fully aware of what they are doing but simply do not care.
Ultimately it is your choice whether to excuse or not excuse your narcissistic abuser’s behavior. It is also your choice whether or not to forgive the person. Now armed with the facts you can make an educated decision.
Randi Fine is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.