I just got this from my old friend, Reinhart Poole (the retired theologian). I thought I'd share it with you. Cheers, Rinde
SO YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN A NARCISSIST FOR CHRISTMAS
By Reinhart Poole
So some benighted relative has given you a narcissist for Christmas and it’s running around the house (let’s say you live in a white one) urinating on everything and ripping up all your treasured notions, frightening your friends, and maybe even attacking neighbors. While there are no guarantees with a breed as touchy as the narcissist (they really should be banned from peaceful neighborhoods, and but for the very powerful National Narcissist Association would be) here are a few tips that might help you train it.
Most of all, you need to realize that it doesn’t respond to shaming or punishment. You have to understand that it doesn’t think the same way we do. It doesn’t have a moral compass, for instance. Therefore it can’t understand why you’re punishing it. It doesn’t know why it shouldn’t mark its territory in your living room, or hump your leg, or sniff your crotch, or tear up that copy of the Constitution you keep on the coffee table to refer to every once in a while when things get out of hand. It doesn’t know why you get upset with its constant high-pitched barking. The narcissist (especially the classic variety) doesn’t reason. It just reacts. You have to understand that it’s frightened easily by what it doesn’t understand and tends to react by gnashing its teeth and barking and making itself look as large and imposing as possible. This is natural behavior in a narcissist. So yelling at it or cuffing it with the back of your hand, no matter how satisfying that would be, does no good at all. Even rubbing its nose in its own shit is useless; it will become even more neurotic and obstreperous, and the unwanted behavior will continue. Remember at all times that it’s selfish by nature, that it can’t help itself. Keep in mind that it is a narcissist and doesn’t have the imagination to realize or care how it’s hurting you.
But the good news is that it responds positively to praise and treats, and will pay most attention to you when you give it the least notice. When you refuse to acknowledge it when it barks it may initially become louder, then, when it realizes that strategy isn’t working, it may tear up that other copy of the Constitution you keep in the bathroom (really you should take any literature you prize and put it in a safe place; it’s just too tempting to the untrained narcissist; it thinks these things–books, religion, democratic process– are toys. Again you have to understand that it thinks the world revolves around it. It thinks that whatever it can get its paws on is its property). With luck, it will become exhausted or lose interest (they have very short attention spans, narcissists) and it will get hungry. It will turn to you again for attention (that’s its food, remember, what nourishes it and gives it energy). That’s when you have a little leverage.
It’s not much, but, as I said, this is a difficult breed (if you feel the need for a difficult pet, best, of course, to go with the more common breeds like the greedy son-of-a-bitch, or power monger, or a garden variety self righteous prick, many of which can be more easily trained)
In sum, if you have a classic narcissist in your house, do the following:
Never speak its name as long as it’s misbehaving. Refer to it in code with your housemates. You can call it different names so it never connects a particular set of sounds to itself. Use random names in tweets and messages, names that are so odd they can’t appear as tags. So, for instance, if you want to comment to a friend about some behavior you say: Sprouge pissed all over the love seat again last night.” Then in the next message: “Ludge ripped up the OED again this morning.”
Remember that it feeds on attention, negative or positive. Remember that praise may calm it down, but that it’s a narcissist not a human being. It will always need more. You have to be smart.
So only use its name when it’s behaving well. When it misbehaves withhold treats. Remove as many of your valuables as you can from easy access. Never give it attention when it barks, only when it quiets down and takes you seriously.
Unfortunately the breed is popular right now with people who think it might provide some domestic comfort. It’s a wild animal. It should be left to roam the forest with the weasels and mice, not invited into the living room to wreak havoc (no matter how hard the National Narcissist Assoc. lobbies for a narcissist in every household, it’s not going to make for a more peaceful and prosperous world)
Please don’t get mad at the friends who gave you this for Christmas. Try to see it from their point of view. They probably thought it would deter burglars. They can’t be blamed for not realizing that their pet narcissist will destroy more of their property than the burglars would steal.
God have mercy on us all.