Conversation With A Narcissist

Introduction

Below is a conversation I had on Facebook with a former friend. I had noticed many narcissistic traits throughout our friendship, but I always let them slide. This conversation was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I could never talk to her again without feeling angry. I am also including a conversation I had with a friend afterward because I feel that she offered valuable insights. Both of their identities shall remain anonymous. I’m also condensing each response to a single paragraph for ease of formatting. I left bits and pieces out because it involved too much personal information.

Original Conversation

Anonymous: “Actually it’s been done multiple times. It’s not a one off study. Generally speaking, people who are really creative (especially in the arts) tend of have depression, be anti social, outsiders, don’t even try to fit in with social norms. But these days a lot of people confuse popularity with “being a creative person or genius” and that’s actually false. A person being popular or not has nothing to do with the results. It’s a way of thinking and processing information that is part of the study. Consider this. If you were given a bunch of art materials. What you need time to think about what do with them? Or would you quickly see what you’d be able to do with them with no instructions? The materials would be random. And to most would say they couldn’t make anything out of them. But a creative person or genius thinks differently and would make something from them. Again there’s more to the studies, but these are parts of the basis of those studies. Also note, it’s rare for someone to actually be an actual genius. Many people toss the term around lightly. But there’s not that many geniuses scientifically. Just like many actual creatives aren’t famous or popular. And generally don’t become known until after they have died.”

Me: “I’m bold enough to consider myself creative…i mean…all I do is create, lol. I personally think genius requires accomplishment. My GOAL is to do something that qualifies as “genius”, someday.”

Anonymous: “I wouldn’t say creating all the time is what makes someone a creative tbh. These days many people post all the stuff they make because they hope for it to go viral.That’s not what the study talks about. So, while by definition, yes we can say you are a person creating things. I’m sorry to say I wouldn’t really say you’re a creative person by the scientific study. You don’t have to be accomplished to be a genius either. Again it’s a set of things that makes someone a genius. Which is highly rare. Even if that is your goal. You won’t necessarily be considered a genius. Basically it’s not as simple as people think it is.”

Me: “I’ll have to disagree…by all measures I’d be considered creative. I’m high in openness to experience, which is the personality trait most highly correlated with creativity. I’ve written a book, made 7 albums, made a video game, make YouTube videos and make TikTok videos everyday. It would be kind of silly to say I’m not creative at this point, lol. The standard measure for “genius” is an IQ of 140, which roughly corresponds to the top 99th percentile…but there’s a negative correlation with creativity once IQ’s increase beyond 130…which puts the terms “creative person” and “genius” at odds with each other.”

Anonymous: “You realize you’re just proving my point right? Your argument is that you’ve made things. Which I agreed you have made things. But doing those things does not make you a creative person by default. Which was the point of the study. I’m not trying to be mean here. But the fact that you got so defensive when I said you weren’t creative by the scientific study is even more proof that you don’t even understand what it is to begin with. And everything you’ve listed isn’t particularly special. And again based on the hope of going viral. You’re also arguing about the standard measure of a genius is at 140. Which I never mentioned. Because to be a genius doesn’t necessarily mean for it to be measured by a number. Again, true geniuses are rare and far in between. And realistically a 140 is simply high intelligence. But not necessarily a genius. Anyone can get their IQ score to a 140 if they try. That wasn’t the argument though. There is such a thing as a creative genius which maybe why it puts the terms at odds with one another. But that’s a different thing entirely.”

Me: “look, demeaning my work as nothing but an attempt at going viral is incredibly disrespectful. Even if my book, my game and my music aren’t special to anybody else, they are very important to me. A creative person can defined as a person that scores high in Openness to Experience as per the Five Factor model, and is a person that enjoys ideas and aesthetics over structure and routine. I am in the top 91st percentile. This is not the only definition…but it is a definition…and I am providing you with proof that I am creative beyond me simply creative things. I’m getting defensive because I’m knowledgeable in this subject, I was only sharing this for fun, ie: “I’m mentally ill, maybe I’m a genius, haha!!!””

Anonymous: “I’m not demeaning your work. I was explaining the study you clearly stated you did not understand. You’re not proving with proof. You’re bandwagoning and ignoring anything I have said about the study. They are not the same thing. And you say you’re knowledgeable about the subject. Yet you say that about EVERYTHING that you talk about. You also always say you share for fun. But only after the fact that others have provided information from the actual studies. And have proven more than once that you don’t know much on the studies at all. I’ve seen it. Others have too. If anything it feels time and time again you claim to have knowledge in these studies but do so only for attention and not actually knowing those studies. The fact I am mentioning that and you’re getting mad at me about it is proof in itself. My suggestion. Don’t open discussions that clearly upset you.

Me:

“1. You DID demean my work by saying it was nothing special and nothing but an attempt at going viral.

2. What study is this? You don’t even know how the study defines what a creative person is…because you don’t know what study this is. What exactly am I bandwagoning?

3. I don’t claim to be knowledgeable about everything…I claim to be knowledgeable about things I’m knowledgeable about…such as Psychopathology and Psychometrics…which is what we’re talking about. That’s an ad hominem attack and you’re basing it only the one discussion I’ve had with you.

4. I don’t claim to share things for fun…because I don’t normally share anything provocative. The last time I did was during a manic episode two years ago.

5. I have not proven more than once that I don’t know what the studies say. In fact, in this situation, I pointed out that there’s a negative correlation with higher IQ’s and creativity. If I do in fact misspeak, please provide me with evidence.

6. I’m getting mad…because I’m sensitive.

7. I wasn’t opening a discussion.”

Anonymous:

“1. No, I said you were creating things. And that most people do things to go viral. Never said you were doing that. You putting words in someone else’s mouth is another thing that you do.

2. You claimed you knew the study and now you’re asking which study it is? There’s been a plethora of studies on creatives and geniuses. So you claiming I don’t know them is again, you making an assumption on my knowledge when you don’t even know what I know and putting words in my mouth. Okay since you asked, and you will have no right to be mad after so remember that: bandwagoning the claim of knowledge on certain topics. But realistically you fall back on your degree to make such claims. I am not the only one who’s noticed this fact. Constantly posting videos just as others have. But not with much content decision involved. Bragging about the things that you have done for your argument on what you want to be labeled. Then getting mad because people aren’t praising you for everything that you do. That’s bandwagoning. You see someone do something and then you join in. But unlike you, I didn’t mind that you did it. But I do wish you’d actually put effort into your work.

3. Yes you do. (Anonymous) and I have had so many (censored) arguments with you about it before. And you did it in this conversation.

4. Never said you did. But again, you like to put words in other peoples mouths.

5. Again, any time people do, you get pissy about it. Do you actually want the evidence? Or just another opportunity to try to put words in my mouth again? That count is at 3 atm btw. In case you didn’t notice.

6. Getting mad yes. Sensitive no. You just like to attack people who say things they don’t cater to your mindset. There’s a difference. That’s called being closed minded. Which you should of learned in your classes to get your degree.

7. Then don’t post things that leave things open to discussion. That’s hypocritical.

8. Again, don’t post things that clearly upset you then.”

Anonymous: “And I’ll tell you this in a PM, if I was demeaning your work as you claimed. I’d tell you every little thing that was wrong with them. But I don’t. Because I know they are important to you. So instead of trying to paint me like an (censored). You should take a look at the fact that I NEVER COMMENT on your work. But like them anyway.”

Me: “Look, you’re making a lot of claims about me that simply aren’t true…and you’re making a ton of personal attacks…going as far as saying I don’t put effort into what I do…which indicates that you harbor secret hostility against me. I’m not claiming anything about you…I’m defending myself. It was never my intention to paint you as anything. I attack people that don’t cater to my mindset? You seriously think I do that on some type of consistent basis?When have (Anonymous) and I ever had an argument? Putting words in people’s mouths. When do I even argue with people, other than you? Bandwagoning is jumping on a cause for clout…I’m claiming knowledge on psychopathology and psychometrics partially due to my degree…primarily due to my personal experience and extensive self-study.”

Anonymous: “You’ve made plenty of claims about me that aren’t true. And no once have you EVER asked me anything about it.”

Me: “I never talk about you to anyone.”

Anonymous: “Instead you always put words in my mouths. False, you claimed I didn’t have MDD and even (Anonymous) had to explain that what you said was wrong. You may not remember these things. But I do. Just like you don’t know shit about what I think of your work. And I supported you anyway. And the only reason you know now is cause I said it. To quote myself “I wish you’d put more effort into it.” Because I believe you have the potential. But you don’t use it. You don’t know jack shit how it feels to see someone having the potential and not putting the effort they could to do better.”

Me: “I remember…that was a low blow and I felt bad after. That’s why I apologized.  Well that would mean it was an argument with you. I’ve always been on good terms with her…as far as I can tell. I’m not sure how I don’t use my potential…I’m constantly working. Maybe I just suck and don’t realize it.”

Anonymous: “Doesn’t matter I’m sick of you putting words in my mouth instead of asking me what I meant. KNOCK IT THE (censored) OFF.”

Me: “What is low effort about what I do though? I’m pretty nit picky, I thought. I’m self-taught so I don’t always know what I’m doing. I don’t try that hard with TikTok because I’m just trying to gain an audience to promote my other work. “

Anonymous: “Word to the wise Justin. Do NOT ask for advice when someone is upset about your work. I am going to work.”

Me: “That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m opening the floor to criticism so I can improve.”

Anonymous: “And don’t want to hear shit from you about it right now. I don’t give two flying (censored) what makes sense to you right now you insensitive (censored). Trust me. You want me to be calmed down when I talk to you. So good (censored) day.”

Me: “I’d rather hear the brutal truth.”

Anonymous: No you don’t. Stop lying. I will talk to you later. Because I’m not doing this talk and dance show with your (censored).”

Me:

I wonder who else holds this opinion of me…it seems there’s a major discrepancy between how I perceive myself and how others seem to perceive me. To me, it’s shocking that people would hold these opinions of me. I perceive myself as an aloof hard-worker that thinly veils his narcissism, but genuinely cares about people but has trouble connecting due to trauma.I feel like I’m pretty transparent.

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Conversation With Friend

Anonymous:

“I have two prominent opinions on the whole thing.

1. Creativity isn’t related to production or marketability, art is an emotional as well as mental endeavor and is fundamentally different than a craft. You do not need to be a craftsman to produce art, and not all skilled crafts require the justification of an assigned monetary value. They both however require creativity.

1.2 On the topic of creativity, people can flex their right hemisphere in ways well beyond socially recognized art forms. I’ve never once met a decent creative individual who tells someone their work is invalid because of the process used in its production, the core purpose behind it or what it means to you. Whatever your “why” behind what you create is entirely personal, individual and important to YOU. You do not owe anyone an explanation. If at the end of the day someone makes art that’s following a trend or a copy of a copy of a copy, who gives a (censored)? Did it make you feel good? Does the piece hold value to you? Then it’s art, and congrats, you’re creative!

1.3 All art is a copy of something and I hold the opinion that everything is an absolute lie when it comes to fabricated work. To the artist, it isn’t. To the audience, we’re seeing a piece catered to us that paints a figurative picture of exactly what the artist wanted us to see, we’ll NEVER know the full truth. Trying to quantify art and creativity by any formal set of standards is a fruitless endeavor that only seeks to demean the artist.

2. I think the whole genius standard is bullshit. Not that YOUR opinion of it is (censored), but I think the standards by which they use to measure intelligence are deeply flawed and fail to take into account the depth of human thought. I don’t think all intelligence is created equally and that people are a lot more complex that a numeric label on their ability to think critically. Correlation between intelligence and creativity I believe is a disingenuous title to the study, I think it’s a lot less to do with a standardized IQ score and more to do with an inclination toward out of the box thinking, hence why mental illness is so frequently associated with creativity.

4. I think a good cumulative example between creativity/art vs craft and the link to IQ is looking at autistic savants being incredibly skilled in one particular area (occasionally creatively, which classifies as a craft) despite having a low IQ. I don’t think this is the only example, the end all be all example or even a particularly great example, but I do think it sums up my relative views on the overall topic pretty well.

5. (Anonymous) has a good habit of commenting in generally instigative ways (that I’ve noticed personally) on a pretty wide variety of topics. If I remember correctly, there was one occasion where I popped in to rectify some misinformation she posted about ADHD or something. I think it’s who she is as a person, and I don’t mean that necessarily negatively. I struggle with communication and frequently view disagreements as “productive conversations” despite it being mentally taxing to the other person because frankly, it isn’t exhausting to me, I feel like we’re having an in depth and active conversation. It took me a long time to learn that is NOT how you communicate and that there’s a time and place to introduce conversations that can be particularly stressful. It’s a social boundary she doesn’t recognize and being able to see it is a skill that takes time to develop (at least that’s what my issue was, I can’t speak for anyone besides myself).

5.1. If it were me, I’d set that boundary. “Hey, I think you misinterpreted my post, I wasn’t looking for an active debate on the topic. I’m sure your intention wasn’t to demean something as personal to me as my art or to pull my own intelligence into question, so I’m going to have to take a step back from conversation with you when you speak to me like that.” It sounds clinical and rehearsed, but it works. It makes the pillar of focus what they DID, rather than how it made you feel (which is a common tactic used by narcissists when they try to flip the narrative on you), which is ultimately the only way to approach them.

At the end of the day, she was forcing you into a conversation you obviously didn’t want to have and she wasn’t willing to accept anything less than you backing down into agreeing with her as an answer. This is just a way to put focus on what she did as wrong.

6. I’d be annoyed too that someone left that many comments on my page just to tell me they think my art sucks only to go on and tell me they think I suck too. On the topic of boundaries, did it not click with her that this is definitely not a conversation you have with someone on an open forum? This isn’t problem solving or addressing anything on her end, it’s an attempt to humiliate you into agreement. Even if EEEEEVERYTHING else I’ve said isn’t true about her, she isn’t respecting you as a person. I speak to my friends privately when they post something questionable (and it needs to be genuinely questionable, I’m not holding my friends trial over trivial shit) because I respect them and their feelings. I don’t aim to embarrass them or make them feel ashamed, I aim to fix the problem and find common ground. You deserve friends like that and ONLY friends like that. (censored) the rest of em.”

Me: I’m reading your response…we’ve had a power outage here…and I’ll have to ruminate on bits before I can read the full response, thank you, lol But…from what I’ve read….thank you for illuminating me. I have much more to dissect.”

Anonymous: “No problem! My bottom line was that I think (anonymous) was overstepping boundaries and being a (censored) friend. Regardless of her differing opinion, friends don’t set out with a goal to publicly hurt each other, which is exactly what you’re doing when you’re grilling someone on a Facebook comment thread.”

Me: “There’s gonna be way more than just a heart response once we regain power tomorrow…I know you’re not demanding it (like me)…just saying it’s gonna happen because I appreciate you, lol. So, I’ll probably say more later, especially considering you’ll hopefully reply, lol.”

Me: “Having ADHD, in my opinion, makes you the perfect liaison between me and the neurotypical world. I don’t actually believe the “140 IQ makes you a genius” (censored) anymore…I was simply using that as a definition. Just want to make that known, lol. I hate the concept of IQ. I honestly see myself as a creative genius…and nobody is gonna change that, lol.”

Anonymous: The way you define and see yourself is the most valuable view you have, external opinion be damned, if you view yourself as a creative genius then there isn’t any standardization out there that’s more important, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We talk incessantly about self worth as a culture but then are met with hard lines when it makes someone else, and as far as I’m concerned (and I feel like this is a relatively accepted opinion not unique to me alone) as long as you aren’t setting out to hurt anyone in order to elevate yourself, then it isn’t an issue. I can see how this could become an issue with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder, but I there’s a fundamental difference between having a high opinion of yourself and feeling like you’re above everyone else. On the topic of personality disorders, as you’re already really familiar with them but we know treatment is based around therapy and self-management. Taking the time to step back and question your perspective is a positive thing (despite that it came from a negative interaction) because it exemplifies self awareness and accountability. Being willing to entertain the idea that you may have utilized manipulation and toxicity as a means to an end, something hallmark in personality disorders, and are seeking out varying perspectives to correct it if you DID do that is a very very positive thing. I think her trying to spin you “always needing to be right” was a means to use something you actively work to be better at against you as well as using it as a way to gaslight you into believing your opinion was uncalled for. It’s okay to be right, know you’re right, and to defend it. That’s NOT the same as traditional narcissistic manipulation. (Anonymous) is very antagonistic, from what I’ve seen in the comments on Facebook. Her communication is really heavily based in having debates and it seems like no matter what perspective you take, you’re wrong and she’s there to correct you. I’m sure there’s a lot more to her in person, but her interaction on Facebook lacks a lot of the boundaries and etiquette we recognize socially and it seems like she puts the responsibility to handle her behavior on everyone else. I’d be having a very frank conversation with her personally, or smashing that block button lol”

Anonymous: “So in nursing school we take about 3 semesters worth of mental health related content, which granted isn’t anywhere near enough to completely encompass the scope of diversity in our community, but it’s exceptionally eye opening. There’s a strong possibility I took to it more personally than others because I’m actually interested in psych nursing, but either way as a whole we HAVE to understand the basics of varying diagnoses and their management from both a clinical and therapeutic perspective. Regardless, I can echo your perspective here that she’s full of (censored) lol, it seems like it’s a lot of self diagnoses to explain away inappropriate behavioral patterns. And while can be a whole line up of mental disorders in its own right, more often than not it’s an end result of poorly developed coping mechanisms (which tbf is a large basis behind personality disorders as a whole, but there’s a difference between the average poor coping mechanism and when it culminates into disorder territory). I think grey rocking is a really good tactic here (it’s like the lesser version of stone walling, don’t offer up additional gateways to communication. Be short sweet and to the point. Make engaging with you no longer worthwhile so they’ll move on.). Let’s say she does have some or even all of the disorders she says she does, you and I both know that it doesn’t absolve her of her behavior and that it’s negative impact on you is STILL an issue regardless of the reason behind it. We also know that the only effective treatment is consistent management (in which case with these in particular is both pharmaceutical and therapy) and effort on her end. You aren’t responsible for the end result of her inability to manage these things. And at the very very minimum, she needs some deep introspection and therapy to unpack why she feels the need to act this way and fake disorders (I don’t use therapy as an insult btw, I think it’s beneficial for everyone personally). But yeah anyways, grey rock her. And I agree, her opinion (even though not directly stated) of these disorders is incredibly disrespectful and her lack of understanding just further perpetuates negative stereotypes. My best friend in nursing school’s brother developed a marijuana induced psychosis and is STILL on antipsychotic medications to manage the long term effects that refuse to go away. She’s the first one to put someone in their place when it comes to incorrect opinions based on stereotypes alone, and I can’t blame her. It’s emotionally taxing to be around that (censored) though and you can’t really reason with someone who isn’t basing their opinion in reason so the best solution is to gently create distance.”

Me: “Thanks for being my sanity check…be sure to come to me as a sanity check sometime!!!”

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2 thoughts on “Conversation With A Narcissist

  1. Honestly I had to skip lots of the first conversation because it bothered me…but kudos to your 2nd friend and yes, sanity checks from good people are highly valuable

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