A Herd of Narcissists, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about the relationship between narcissism and shame.  This brings me to my next point, which is that narcissists see themselves as “unique and special people.”

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I’m looking at narcissism because I believe its submerged half, shame, is a shadowy but potent presence in many healthcare settings: its destructive force is shaping the behaviour of many working in the field.

I want to understand what went wrong with my mother’s journey through the healthcare system. I want to know why workers in it were so prone to lying, prevaricating and stonewalling. I would also like to know why advocating for my mother provoked so much anger and resentment.

I’m looking for answers because I am getting older and what I saw frightened me.

My mother’s journey started in an acute-care hospital. From there she went to a rehabilitation hospital, and from there she came to my home, where she lived for 20 months. She is now in a long-term care facility here in Montreal and is, for the most part, doing well. However, if you read Part 1 of this article, you will already know this wasn’t always the case.

Like many [...] continue the story

A Herd of Narcissists, Part 1

I’ve touched on the issue of shame twice now in recent articles. It’s because I believe it is a powerful tool for both good and evil.

When I refer to shame as a tool I mean that the evocation of it, whether self-generated or externally prompted, often triggers one of two responses: a self-correcting mechanism (I won’t do that again) or a self-corrosive mechanism (I’m no good). Brené Brown differentiates between guilt and shame by saying that guilt is attached to our actions while shame is attached to our identity. It’s the difference between doing wrong (Ooops) and being wrong (I’m such an idiot).

I sometimes experience a helpful form of shame when I drive carelessly, and my desire to avoid that feeling is probably what keeps me from doing it too often. On the other hand, being unfairly targeted or thrown into a bewildering conflict seems to evoke a different kind of shame. I’m talking about those times when I’m being treated as the source of a problem instead of just part of it.

Here’s an example: Driving to work one morning, I inadvertently swerved into a neighbouring lane on a one-way street. I corrected myself immediately, but another driver, who was behind me and in that lane, [...] continue the story

Unwanted Thoughts

By Michelle Lemme

Unwanted thoughts keep popping into my head; need to keep myself distracted so as not to get caught up in the never ending vortex of worry and guilt.   No matter what has taken place in the past, I am and always will be, a mother first.  I believe that the thoughts that I am having are not “abnormal” as I believe any mother who is undergoing something difficult with their child would also be plaque by guilt and anxiety.

My tendency is to catastrophize things, it is the rare occasion in deed when I don’t believe the worse can, and probably will happen.  No matter that I rarely have evidence which supports the catastrophic thought that is haunting me.  Sometimes, even my breathing cannot quell the fear that tears at my heart.

The “guilt” thoughts are the most dreadful, the most useless.  All of these invaders drive me to want to fix everything that is precarious in SA’s life, what mother wouldn’t want to make their children’s life easier if they could?  I’m torn apart, knowing that SA needs to continue to learn to live her life independently and responsibly.  How can she possibly succeed if I intervene in every [...] continue the story

We Laughed

Billy Bragg and Maxine Edgington’s No 11 hit song sung by Helena. In Maxine’s moving words: a mother and daughter come to terms with Mum’s life-threatening illness and recall what made them laugh together….

Walk This Way

By Kim Dolce October 21, 2011

Long before we girls leave the crib, we sense that boys watch the way we move.

Once we become ambulatory the game intensifies. Puberty attaches language to this preoccupation as girls learn whether guys are leg men, butt-watchers, or hypnotized by hips. In adulthood, women discover the power to influence an admirer with a simple movement. We choreograph our own signature dance. Fully in control of our youthful bodies, we emulate the panther, the gazelle, our favorite Motown group, or in a goofy moment, a decrepit great uncle.

Developing MS is a real game-changer. When I added foot drop to my choreography, I felt clumsy and unattractive. Augmenting my routine with a cane was the finishing blow; a cane did well by Fred Astaire and July Garland, but I don’t sing “Swanee” or tap dance on ceilings. I gave up on grace and worried about tripping or falling. My dance morphed from jazzy Gwen Verdon to Chevy Chase doing Gerald Ford. Convinced that men observed this with either sympathy or disgust, I abandoned my desire to be desired.

One day, I noticed my husband, Mark, standing behind me beaming lasciviously.

“What are you looking at, you silly man,” I asked.

“You,” [...] continue the story