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Mark

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Mark last won the day on March 4 2010

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  1. Dave, I'm glad that my essay and the community that has formed around it has been of help to you. Thank you for the thank you and for continuing to spread the word. Mark
  2. Camway, Take what I say with the proverbial "grain of salt" since I'm biased (educated as a psychotherapist), but the best path for dealing with your problem if the diagnosis is accurate is going to be psychotherapy, probably a form of psychotherapy focused on exploring and making you aware of your interpersonal relationships, past and present, e.g., object relations psychotherapy or one of the modern scientifically validated offshoots of that such as Kernberg's transference focused therapy, or Jeffrey Young, Ph.D.s' schema therapy. Those last two may be hard to find, but there are a lot of object relations aware therapists out there who may call what they do "dynamic psychotherapy". Anyway, make contacts with therapists and ask about these things and see what or who they recommend. Ulimately, with therapists, it's also vital to pay attention to the chemistry you have with the individual therapist. If you have a great therapist who gives you the creeps, it just is unlikely to work. Why therapy of this variety? I said this problem was structural and the cure is to learn how to alter your structure, but your ability to be aware of what you are doing is limited by the way human nature is. Narcissism affects the basic shape of your perceptions and emotions at a very low level and thus, to become more aware of what you are doing is difficult. It's simply hard to conceive of and understand what a better structure would look like without help in the form of trusted outside input. You need to be able to talk about your interactions (past and present) on a regular basis with someone who can challenge you to look at things you might not otherwise look at, etc, and who you have some basic sense of trust that they want to help and not tear you down. That is what a good therapist offers. Think of therapy as braces for your personality. It takes a while and it can sometimes be painful (financially and emotionally) but the end product is desirable. Mark
  3. I don't know. I think there is value in having a diagnosis like NPD. Not as a means of beating yourself up, but rather as a means of self-understanding. Narcissism is both a personality style or trait, and also an interpersonal style. It points to structural problems in terms of how a person might represent and understand the meaning of other people. In the simplest terms (which by definition will not do justice to your personal situation), the meaning of being "narcissistic" in structural terms is that a person does not represent other people as being as fully people in their own right as they regard themselves. While they give themselves full credit for satisfying needs, they tend to not pay attention to the rights and needs of others with whom they interact, causing those relationships to be shallow and relatively devoid of intimacy. This is a structural problem, as it interfers with one's ability to form and maintain truly intimate relationships, which is very important for having long term access to social support and (at the end of the day) understanding yourself to be truly loved by others which for most people is a vital component of their self-esteem. In other words, over the long term, living with the structural interpersonal problems associated with narcissism tends to lead to sub-optimal and impoverished interpersonal outcomes which are important for maintaining one's own mental health. If you can come to comprehend the nature of the structural problems you can begin to do the work to undo them. That is the value of knowing the diagnosis. Note, however, that the map is not the same thing as the territory. Understanding what is wrong is helpful in addressing the situation but it is not sufficient in of itself. Make any sense? A diagnosis is like a map if you can learn how to read it, and having a map is helpful for navigating to the place you want to arrive at. Mark edit - I want to make clear that narcissism need not be a permanent condition. It is best seen as a developmental delay in social-emotional maturity (IMHO), and it can become something you outgrow if you work at it with some care. I've done psychotherapy with a pretty severely narcissistic patient and over many years of work, real progress was made. Not saying this is easy or inexpensive, but it is very much doable.
  4. All, By popular demand, I had asked David Van Nuys, Ph.D. (interviewer for our Wise Counsel Podcast) to interview Dr. Stan Grof some time ago. This was completed, and I'm very pleased to post it today. Dr. Grof is a well known researcher of non-ordinary states of consciousness and the originator of the phrase "Spiritual Emergency". An Interview with Stanislav Grof, M.D. on Transpersonal Psychology and the Meaning of Psychedelic Experience. Mark
  5. dame71, Welcome to this community. I hope you will find it a useful place to work on yourself and help others. Mark
  6. All (and Spiritual-Emergency in particular), I'm pleased to announce that in May we will be publishing an interview with Stanislav Grof, MD. I have the audio as of this morning and it is currently being transcribed - have not listened to it yet ,however. Dr. Grof talks about Transpersonal Psychology; a subject near and dear to the discussion here over the last year. Mark
  7. Mark

    Virginity Hit

    Being a somewhat private person I don't feel comfortable disclosing the details of my dating history in this public forum. However, I want to say again that I have lived a version of this angst for many years; have done the online dating thing (with much rejection and some success) and have pursued a variety of other strategies, mostly with limited success. I don't think it is important to spend a lot of money - you may need to spend some but you certainly don't need to spend $2,000 (!). What is important is that you keep trying. Dating is a numbers game. In my experience (for what it is worth), you just need to keep putting yourself into situations where you get to talk face to face (actually talk - not just email or on the phone) with the sex you are attracted to in settings where they are (self-selected) likely to be receptive to being approached. You need to keep doing this a number of times - sometimes a great number of times, until something clicks and there is mutual attraction. In my experience, attraction cannot be manufactured. it either clicks on or it doesn't. It is generally either shows itself within the first several conversations or it will not occur. If it is not present for you after several conversations, move on. If you like someone but they don't seem to be liking you back - which means making some sex-role-appropriate effort to get together with you - maybe it is just suggesting an alternative time to meet when a time you've proposed doesn't work - if they aren't giving you a clear sign that they like you back then move on, because after a few conversations it is vanishingly likely that such attraction will appear. Attraction is not up to you, or your prospective partner, and if it is not present spontaneously it cannot be manufactured. The key words here are determination repetition and rejection. You have to be determined to make this happen - which provides the fuel for getting back on the "horse" after falling off (which will happen a lot). You have to be willing to keep getting back on the horse - seeking out the horse. You have to be willing and able to reject both 1) those partners you do not find attractive and 2) those partners you fall in love with but who do not love you back. You have to keep moving on until you find what works. Once you find what works, then there is a new problem, called "compatibility" but that is a different story. randomperson - maybe if you think about this process as a game it will help. It is a game, only you feel the consequences of your actions more physically than you do when it is a video game. another thought, perhaps a stupid one. If you are too tender to play this game the right way (e.g., the way that will potentially produce emotional intimacy as well as sexual intimacy), then maybe you can play the wrong way (e.g., just for sex) for a limited time?? There are whole books devoted to the art of seduction, and what they mostly reduce to is to learn how to make your prospective partner into an object to be manipulated so that you can get into their pants. In the process of making your partner into an object you also must make yourself into an object (e.g., this is a selfish, narcissistic way of proceeding, but it does work). This approach is fundamentally unhealthy. I can't recommend it as a goal to aspire to, but I think the techniques used by these seducers could be worth studying, as is the *temporary* ability to make your prospective partner into an object - if and only if this gets you over the otherwise paralyzing anxiety of approaching repeatedly. Once over that anxiety I hope you would drop that crap and become human again. Mark
  8. I think a lot of people (here and elsewhere) can relate to feeling this way at one point or another in their lives. I know I have felt that way at times when I was younger, particularly in the wake of a breakup with an SO. That this is (by your report) *THE* major feature of your emotional landscape at this point in time does point to this being perhaps more of a problem for you than for some. These things can and do change though so there is plenty of reason to think that your situation can improve.
  9. Mark

    Virginity Hit

    flander, I'm not trying to ignore or belittle the barriers that keep people from being able to approach potential partners. I know they are substantial. I have lived them. I also know that if you can get yourself past them, the actual things that you need to do to meet potential partners are not rocket science. it is mostly perseverence and the willingness to put yourself out there and risk rejection, knowing that most of the time you will be rejected or want to reject whomever you happen to be with. Sparks are not the rule, but they do tend to occur if you persevere long enough in the right environments (e.g., where there are a reasonable pool of potential partners). RP, what was so horrible about your dating experiences online? You are using strongly emotional words here - shame, fool, horrible. The theme is one of social anxiety - the fear of being judged by a powerful other. What was it about whomever you were with in those exchanges that made them seem so powerful? When I was young and shy I used to think women were powerful and had the power to humiliate. Now I realize that we're "all just bozos on this bus" - all just trying to get through this life with dignity and some measure of joy and that includes most of the potential partners you might approach. They do not have more power than you give them, especially when they are strangers unconnected to your existing social circles. You may feel humiliated, but when that is the case, the feeling is coming from inside *you*; you being prepared to feel that way in a pre-existing manner. Why do you feel that way do you think? What is the worst thing that could happen? What were the horrible things that did happen? Did you ask them what they thought would work? If it never worked to talk to random women the world would have far fewer babies in it (grin!). However, there are places and times when people are more or less receptive to being approached. And your presentation and carriage when you are approaching is important. If you *are* confident and naturally project that and express a genuine interest in something the other person you're approaching is interested in, and if the setting is reasonable (e.g., the person you're approaching is open to being disturbed, and if she is not otherwise engaged (in a relationship she cares about) then this can work very nicely. This is why people say to use online services or to join clubs etc. These situations provide contexts where people are more likely to be open to meeting new people. Mark
  10. Mark

    Virginity Hit

    It can seem difficult to do this when you are anxious/shy about it, but really it's not that difficult. You have to re-arrange your life a bit so that you are in places where there are single women - or your online life so that you are in contact with single women, and then you have to talk to a number of them until some interaction you have clicks and you both find you want to spend more time with one another. Doing this requires that you overcome whatever shyness based passivity or embarrassment you may be acting out. You have to decide to act in spite of your fear/anxiety/paralysis. I spent years of my younger life paralyzed by the prospect of actually talking to girls only to find out later that it is really easy to do. you just have to do it, and to be prepared to do it repeatedly because the common experience is going to be that you meet someone nice but you just don't mutually click. Less commonly, you will meet someone you don't like at all (or they don't like you at all), and also less commonly, you will both like one another. So you must consider this a process and a numbers game where you have to repeatedly work to talk with women knowing that it is more than half likely that this particular time it won't work out. that's a frightening prospect to the extent that you see the woman you're with as having the power to judge you and reject you. Which she does, but you have the same power to judge and reject and basically equal standing. Sometimes you may not like someone and you will want to walk away. That doesn't make that woman a bad person; just not the person who is a good fit for you. The vice versa logic applies too. If you are rejected it is more about the woman deciding that you are not a good fit for whatever she is looking for. "Fit" is really important. If someone rejects you because they think you are not a good fit, that is the best thing they could do, because better to figure that out early than later on after you've invested in that person. Vice versa, if you realize you don't "fit" well with someone you manage to attract, it's better to let them know early on too so that you don't hurt them unnecessarily. In short, there is really not that much to be afraid of, but it is easy to be afraid nevertheless. In order to be less afraid, it's good to remind yourself that you are a worthwhile human being seeking what most human being want most - intimacy (emotional, sexual, etc.), which is the most normal thing in the world. It's also useful to remind yourself that other people's rejection of you only carries as much weight as you allow it to (because at root you are a worthwhile human being acting on normal impulses). In terms of specifics - specifically where to go online or otherwise to meet women - I don't know. that's very variable based on your specific situation. Where do you think you should go? Where have you tried to go? If this is true, then you would appear to be spending time in a place that is not aligned with your goal of meeting women. Maybe you need to re-orient how/where you spend time. Mark
  11. For more on this topic you might want to look at the following resources on the main site: Memory Reconsolidation article by me http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=27967 Podcast interview with Bruce Ecker, MA on reconsolidation and "coherence therapy". http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=36397 The idea is not that the memories are wiped away. Instead, the emotional component of the memory is reduced in intensity so that something that used to push you into a panic would now be more tolerable and much less provoking. Mark
  12. Mark

    Virginity Hit

    Ah, gamers. It's something I have watched rising on the cultural scene but have never had the time for myself. A sign of my age. Gamers socialize a ton. They just do it in virtual worlds rather than in the real one. So the trick would be to play social games (of which there are many today. WOW is supposed to be popular lately, and then there are all the zombie games like L4D. Then you'd want to join up with some kind of social group within the game (a "clan" ??) and from there it's socialization much like any other sort - adapted to the virtual environment. If you want to meet someone you have to broadcast your desire to do that, but in a way that doesn't position yourself as despairate, but rather desirous. Don't assume that others know your mind. Mind reading isn't reality, and most of the time, people are so wrapped up in their own dramas that they don't notice yours even to the extent they could. So you need to market yourself as available and interested; interesting, not frantic. This is a whole topic in itself, right? We can discuss if you like (to the extent I can help I will). Mark
  13. JT Feel free to send me a note if you want to. I'm not going away. I'm just recognizing the constraints on my time and making adjustments to allow for the community to function better. Mark
  14. All, A fair number of you probably do not know me at this point, but I'm the Director of this place and have served as the primary community Administrator for a number of years. For a variety of reasons, my ability to spend time in the community has become very limited and that has created a problem with getting things done in the community. Administrative decisions and actions have been required at times and I was not up to speed on what was happening so as to make informed decisions. In order to address this problem, I am today widely announcing a change to the manner in which the community organization is structured. In order to increase responsiveness and simplify local decision making, I have appointed Malign to the newly created office of Community Manager. Malign is now the front-line Administrator of this place and should serve as the first point of contact for members who need to communicate with site administration (e.g., me) or who simply need to get administrative things done such as name or account changes. Community members should still feel free to communicate with me directly, but please, only in the event that there are *serious complaints* about how things are going. Neither Malign nor myself anticipate that this change will result in significant disruption of the way things currently get done. We anticipate and expect that the majority of local decision making will continue to occur by consensus of the moderators with input from the members when that is appropriate. This change is primarily designed to address situations that require rapid executive response; something for which I am not presently able to help with due to my busy schedule. The change allows Malign to make decisions as my proxy at a local level to make decisions happen faster, which should streamline the site experience for everyone. Why Malign? I chose him mostly because he doesn't really crave the job and therefore would appear unlikely to abuse it. He has been a moderator for a *long time* and thus is well known and trusted (I believe) by all who have been here for any length of time. Even his avatar (the yin/yang symbol) suggests balance. I think he is an excellent candidate for preserving the feeling of safety in the community. I recognize that this sort of change could be upsetting; that is not the intention. The primary intention of making this change is to allow the community to be able to function independently of my decision making at a time when I am simply not very available to the community for that purpose. Please feel free to comment on this decision. Please note, however, that this decision is not negotiable. Mark
  15. Mark

    Virginity Hit

    Nope. Not at all alone. Not too many have found this particular forum, but there are literally millions of people in the world struggling with this issue of virginity right at this moment.
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