Did Johnny Kill?
School Violence Explained
Dynamics of Rejection, Isolation, Bullying,
Shame, Anger and Acting Out in Rage in
Summary of the
Service Report on School Violence
© Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
FIRST CAST THE MOTE OUT OF THINE OWN EYE!
Lynne Namka, Ed. D., © 2001
People often see their own attitudes and behavior
as "normal" and overestimate the worst
in others. They see others as bad while excusing
the same traits in themselves. They often assume
a "False Consensus Effect" that
others perceive things the way they do. We all
have a bit of projection in us, but some people
have the need to blame others big time, thus obstructing
their own growth and learning.
Projection is a common defense mechanism
where a person gets upset with a trait in someone
else that he wishes to deny in himself. They suppress
the knowledge that they have the same trait and
externalize blame on the other person. They are
highly sensitized to the unwanted behaviors in
others and transfer their horror and anger at
their own unwanted inner trait to an outside person.
Much of their internal thought or words during
an argument is focused on blaming the other person.
People who project blame often feel a hidden stigma
and shame at possessing a disgraceful personality
trait so they "project" or transfer
anger on others to distract themselves from knowing
the truth about their own self. They become so
highly sensitized to the presence of their unwanted
traits that it interferes with their social informational
processing. So they don't see reality as it is
and then operate out of their misperceptions.
Another form of projection is to transfer the
arrows and slings of life onto "bad luck"
or "fate." People who project often
have other defenses such as Overgeneralized
Thinking, which is the habit of making statements
that emphasize that things are always that way.
Examples of this type of thinking are: "He
never considers my opinion," "You always
put me down," "She always tells me what
to do," "I have to do all the work,"
"I never get a break," "Why can't
you ever get it right?" and "I can't
stand it," or "I can't take anymore."
Overgeneralization language uses words like "never,
always, should and everybody or nobody."
People who blame others frequently have a habit
of Focusing on Right And Wrong and Dwelling
on Perceived Injustice. They often say, "It's
not fair!" and dwell on the negative. They
keep score of slights from others and dwelling
on them creating a climate of hurt and suspicion.
They have a list of "shoulds" for their
partner that are inconsistent with his or her
personality, and which will undermine a relationship.
Focusing on unfairness keeps them caught in anger,
resentment and grudges. (Hey, life frequently
is unfair, but focusing on it only makes you more
People who blame others or situations without
taking responsibility for their contribution to
the problem never get the sense of satisfaction
of growth. By refusing to see their own errors,
they lose the opportunity to change the very aspects
of themselves that keep them stuck.
The Narcissistic Stance "I Want To Feel
No Way But Good."
Narcissism according to Freudian theory is an
irrational belief that the person they choose
for a partner will give them perfect love and
make up for all the hurts and slights of their
life. People with narcissistic thinking and behavior
strive to defend their fragile self esteem through
fantasy and have a huge blind spot in their way
of thinking. Fantasy and unrealistic expectations
take the place of life. People with narcissistic
tendencies have other defenses and errors in thinking
such as denial, repression of feelings, black
and white thinking and externalization of blame.
They are often rigid and have a strong need to
be right. They feel an increase in self-esteem
when they get what they want and feel no remorse
at using others. They are supersensitive to criticism
and either attack the other person or leave the
scene. They can pout and give the silent treatment
or hold grudges. This combination of these defenses
that distort reality often set them up for failure
Now we all have a bit of narcissism and indeed
need some of it to survive. Otherwise we would
end up giving away everything. Getting a good
balance between taking from others and giving
to them is called "Healthy Narcissism."
People with severe narcissistic traits long for
ideal love that will take care of their fragile
sense of self and give them unconditional love.
The yearning for getting unconditional love is
an unresolved need left over from childhood. Most
adults realize it would be nice but that it rarely
happens as people we love usually hold us accountable
for our actions in some way. They distort their
self-image (again in fantasy to believe that they
are superior to others. They think too well of
themselves as a defense to cover up their sense
of shame deep within. Grandiosity is a distortion
that prevents them from blaming themselves and
becoming depressed or disintegrated.
The two greatest fears we humans have in relationship
are fears of engulfment (smothering, being controlled
by someone else) and fears of rejection and abandonment.
And to spice up the human drama, our greatest
longings are the needs for connection and the
opposite need for space and individuality. And
so the couple dance is set playing out these great,
universal themes. People with narcissistic traits
play both these fears out in the relationships
with their significant others, yearning for closeness
and fearing it the same time.
In the narcissistic mind, there is a gap between
the idealized love and the actual day-to-day dealings
with their partner. They long for symbiosis with
the idealized love to stabilize the self, but
they fear being traumatized by the partner. They
seek refuge in being seen as the good guy and
try to gain approval and recognition. When this
does not come forth readily, they feel wounded
and hurt and attacked. Constantly seeking attention
and approval puts them in the precarious position
of always needing something from somebody else.
Fantasy is an attempt to process information and
emotions and unresolved pain to make up for what
they did not have in childhood. They place unrealistic
demands on others to make them feel better. J.
S. Bernstein defined this defense as a person's
"Learning to feel no way but good and to
demand success when he did not feel good."
They cannot tolerate negative emotional distress
and turn it on others (project) by saying they
are bad. They insist on having things their own
way that is an unreal attitude that sets others
off against them. When they don't get what they
want, they feel devalued.
People who cannot tolerate their own feelings
of fear, hurt, anxiety, helplessness and despair,
certainly cannot recognize these emotions in others.
They deny and rationalize their own contribution
to the problems to preserve their own internal
fantasy of being all good and right. They also
suffer from the Repressor and Projection defenses
described above. Narcissistic people always are
Repressors to some degree, but not all Repressors
Narcissists have a lack of insight about understanding
and processing of feelings. Instead they deny
them and run from them. They avoid taking risks
to love and never learn to develop true intimacy.
They would rather threaten their relationship
than face humiliation, embarrassment or injury
to their self-esteem. They are slow to learn the
all important skills of commitment such as sympathy,
understanding the intentions and motives of their
partner, compassion and empathy. They often discount
the concerns of others, dismiss issues in their
relationships and pull away from their partner.
The narcissistic defenses of becoming angry, shutting
down, minimizing and distancing keep them feeling
safe in the moment. But the partner becomes highly
threatened and angry thus weakening the relationship.
The antidote to narcissistic behavior is to understand
how the defenses work, identify and correct the
errors in thinking and learn to tolerate frustration,
anxiety, sadness and shame. By learning to be
straight first with the self, and then with others,
these unhealthy defenses can be lessened. Then
the person can learn to live in the world of reality,
even though it hurts at times, instead of turning
to fantasy that can never be gained. With hard
work, people with narcissistic defenses can learn
conflict negotiation and appropriate, safe anger
expression. As they can learn to become more real
with their feelings, they will gain self-esteem
by stretching and growing, even if it means being
vulnerable to uncomfortable emotional states.
As these skills are learned, they can achieve
more satisfying and balanced relationships with
Talk, Trust and Feel Therapeutics.
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