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Does This Explain Fundies Who Don't Seem To Grow Up


debrand

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I know that we shouldn't psychoanalyze anyone but the Arndts and certain other fundies are so unusual that is difficult not to look for answers as to what makes them tick. I do NOT think that the Arndts' are narcissistic but I wonder if some points in this article fits them?

http://samvak.tripod.com/narcissistinfantile.html

Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial - the perpetrators could be parents, teachers, other adults, or peers. Pampering, smothering, spoiling, and "engulfing" the child are also forms of abuse.

In an abusive environment, the child finds it difficult to assert his personal boundaries, to separate from his parents, and to individuate. Consequently, it chooses either of two solutions: to internalize and introject the abuser (to become a monster), thereby siding with the strong and winning party – or to remain a child forever, thus securing empathy, compassion, and pity in a heartless, hostile universe. The typical narcissist is unusual in that it chooses to adopt both solutions at once and is, therefore, simultaneously a monster and a child.

The narcissist is a partial adult. He seeks to avoid adulthood. Infantilisation – the discrepancy between one's advanced chronological age and one's retarded behaviour, cognition, and emotional development – is the narcissist's preferred art form. Some narcissists even use a childish tone of voice occasionally and adopt a toddler's body language.

and

Such "delayed adulthood" is very common in many poor and developing countries, especially those with patriarchal societies.
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That is an eerily accurate description of the Arndts. I don't think narcissism is always the common definition of someone who is completely arrogant and self-absorbed. I think their lifestyle is abusive, and I think that both Mama Arndt and all the kids feel like the kids are just extensions of her, like they never cut the umbilical cord.

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I think the parents are the narcissistic ones.

Theres a narcissist in our group of friends (well, before we became the target of her rages) and she is a lot like a teenager-she expects her parents, friends and various romantic/sexual partners to give her money and bail her out when she gets in trouble, wont get a job, the only reason why her house isnt on Hoarders is because her boyfriend cleans. She treats her friends like a bitchy 14 year old girl treats the others in her class. She treats her kids in the same way Michelle Duggar does-as props other people can think are adorable and oh what an amazing mother you are, but then expects them to fit around her lifestyle and not want anything or bother her at all (which is why she got them taken away for neglect at one point). The way she acts with them is more like an annoyed teenage sister who is put in charge of them all the time but just wants to go and have fun.

I would say that most of the fundies we snark on have some form of personality disorder or mental health issues.

Some narcissists even use a childish tone of voice occasionally and adopt a toddler's body language.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm and who does that....

I dont think a lot of these fundie SAHD's and adult children (with the exception of Raquel) are what I would usually associate a narcissist with, I think that mainly its because they are so controlled and abused they dont know how to look after themselves, and there are significant mental blocks put up in place to prevent them from wanting these things. Theyve been taught that if they make any attempt at being independant or having their own opinion comes with a painful price, so dont even try now. Theyve been completely and utterly broken, and their spirit has been crushed so theyre just a shell of what they could be.

In an abusive environment, the child finds it difficult to assert his personal boundaries, to separate from his parents, and to individuate. Consequently, it chooses either of two solutions: to internalize and introject the abuser (to become a monster), thereby siding with the strong and winning party – or to remain a child forever, thus securing empathy, compassion, and pity in a heartless, hostile universe. The typical narcissist is unusual in that it chooses to adopt both solutions at once and is, therefore, simultaneously a monster and a child.

They are the ones who choose to remain a child forever.

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I learn so much here at FJ. :)

All of what you've both posted about makes sense to me. I'm the only sibling in my family that actually has done something with my life. I've always wondered why the others, raised the same way as me, seemed to be delaying adulthood. They still don't want to take responsibility for anything and want to act like teenagers, lying around all day, playing video games. They're only just now (most are in their 30s) starting to look towards the future, education, etc. Even though all are parents.

I'm also the only sibling that doesn't speak to my father. I believe he was very abusive towards us, even though my siblings all disagree. I've thought he was abusive since I was about 10 years old and tried to avoid him as much as I could even then. The rest of them...even though he constantly badmouths them even now, will do anything for his approval.

We were raised to not show emotion, not that it was ever stated you had to smile all the time but I remember my father screaming at my mother more than once to "shut that child up before I shut him up myself". Never allowed to state our own opinion; if we disagreed, we were screamed at and hit for "being a smartass".

Sorry to derail. This just really spoke to me.

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I don't know about the Arndts but it sure as hell explains my mother.

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I find this fascinating and a possible explanation for fundies. Their parents dictate their lives, and I know that will leave one very stunted as an adult, with a lot of questions. I don't think that always equals personality disorder though, I think there needs to be more than just fundiedom gong on.

Getting a little personal here but here it goes. I am almost certain my mother is a narcissist. She was abused, in every way a child could be. She can act very childish at times (for example, at Disney World, I was constantly changing seats with her so she could have a better view of shows to avoid her sulking). She throws these temper tantrums and can get very emotional over something very minor. She has received many diagnoses over the years (schizophrenia, MDD, Bi-polar) and while parts of each definitely fit, none fit the way this personality disorder would.

I think it is so common for victims of childhood abuse to be stunted. I was stunted in my emotional development. I was abused (not nearly as horrible as my mother had it) by my mother and I seemed to live my life, only for her. Along with the emotional and physical abuse, my mother also seemed to place me on a pedestal. She would brag about me incessantly, and at times, seemed to admire me. I got in serious trouble for not measuring up . . . but it was followed by apologies and explanations of her abuse and how she had it much worse. I would have to comfort her after my beating.

My identity was completely manufactured by her until I left for college at 17. I felt so lost at first, like I had no idea what I wanted. The next few years were hard on me, I learned a lot about myself and my mother. At some point, I realized I was so fixated on my childhood and so angry about it, that I wasn't really maturing very well as an adult. I blamed her for a lot of my financial problems. I got excellent grades but would have panic attacks for not being the best. I am pretty certain I am not a narcissist (god, I hope not) but she definitely had a personality disorder.

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I don't know about the Arndts but it sure as hell explains my mother.

Mine as well.

I've read a couple books on Narcissistic Parenting and a number of the fundie families fit the profiles. It seems to be a self-selecting bunch though. You need to be a bit of a exhibitionist/narcissist to run the blogs like they do. Every single one of them is holier than the next, more persecuted than the next, etc.

My mother threatened to start a blog. I told her to go ahead, but if my name, my husband's name or any tiny bit of identifying information was on it, I would be very upset. (My husband has a rare name and is an attorney. We don't want clients googling him and finding her blog.) It was thankfully, just a passing fad and she never did it.

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Could be.

With some of the kids I think their environment pretty much inevitably leads them to be childlike.

Imagine an oldest child, or near the top. Better yet, specifically a girl. Mom keeps pumping out more kids, so there is never any end to babies in the house. The family homeschools (of course). This starts out with Mom teaching the kids (including the oldest), but by the time Oldest is in upper elementary or so where schooling starts getting difficult and requiring more time, there is already a whole passel of younger "littles" around the house that Oldest has to help look after because Mom is still having babies. Oldest probably has to start teaching some of the younger kids. Quite possibly Oldest loves doing this, she gets praise for it, and it's easier and more rewarding than her own studies - after all, studying is hard, but teaching little kids, she feels smart and Mom is happy. So Oldest's own studies just kind of... peter out.

Meanwhile, the family is all about sheltering and being "best friends with your siblings" so that means ALL Oldest's interactions are with younger kids (for all the talk we hear of "but our kids can socialize with adults too!" that socialization is NOT as equals - the kids are kids until marriage after all). Just due to the math, the average age of the kids stays pretty low, and so group activities and just the general tone of play in the house stays aimed at little kids. Any trips or outside activities the family engages in are always pitched to appeal to the little kids.

On top of that, the parents are extremely proud of how "sheltered" and "non-worldly" and "innocent" the kids are, so Oldest gets plenty of praise and good feelings for being "responsible" but still seeming very young, dressing young (because it's "pure" - think Little House or all those endless fluffy faux Victorian dresses). All the being "sheltered" and "innocent" turns into an idol, so it's hard to give that up.

Put it all together and yeah it's pretty easy to end up with an upper teen or even twenty-something girl who has pretty much no real education beyond elementary level (but probably doesn't realize that, which is the saddest part maybe), has no real worldly knowledge, and still has the interests and just general social scene of a little kid. She probably can cook and clean at an adult level but would seem quite strange and childlike to an outsider.

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My father was a narcissist. He had a terrible childhood, and played it forward.

I think it was Sam Vaknin who wrote that narcissism has it's roots in childhood shame that the narcissist was unable to process at the time. They got told they were bad, stupid, sinful, a mistake, unworthy, etc., and there was nobody in their lives to sit down with them after an incident and let them know that no, they weren't bad, tell them that they (or at least the offender) was wrong to treat them that way, and let them express their feelings and ask questions so they could make sense of what happened.

The child's key caretakers (Vaknin blames mothers, but I know damned well fathers can do it, too) may have belittled the child, disregarded their needs and desires, given preferential treatment to other siblings or people outside the family, told them they were to blame for any trouble in the family or the caretaker's own misery, set impossibly high standards for behavior and achievement, and/or used physical abuse--all the while telling the kid they were failures who deserved whatever misery came their way. The prevailing message, however it's delivered, is "You are rotten and you don't deserve love." And the caretaker is always right--there is never an apology for hurtful words or behavior, or effective counterbalance to the negative messages they keep giving the child.

So the child grows up to be a perpetual performer. They have no real self, only a false self that is constantly being constructed and reconstructed in order to gain favor (and avoid abuse) from important others. Narcissists are so focused on their outward performance and gauging other people's reactions to it that they end up empty on the inside--no matter how charming or people-pleasing they may seem, their dominant emotions are fear and rage, and they cannot form genuine emotional connections to other people. So they lack empathy, feel entitled to take what they want from others, use manipulation (flying into rages, playing the victim, making false promises, etc.) to get the responses they want, and entertain grandiose fantasies of who they are and what their place in the world is.

The child-raising techniques used by so many fundies snarked here are exactly the kind of conditions that create narcissists. In fact, I'm pretty sure they're created by narcissists (or, in the case of Michael Pearl, narcissistic sociopaths). The complete lack of empathy and understanding, the overwhelming need to control and dominate, and the disregard for children as independent beings, with separate identities from their parents, just screams it. So do grandiose ideas of "generational faithfulness," espoused by people like Greg Botkin--it presumes that the children and grandchildren of the narcissistic founders will have no independent thoughts or desires that conflict with that goal.

Personally, I see it as rampant among these fundie families--I see narcissistic parents raising narcissistic kids. And no, not all of the kids turn out to be narcissists, but even the kids who don't hardly come out of it unscathed.

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We're talking the Arndts and 6 out of 8 of the Maxwells and 18 out of 19 Duggars here, right? Because it seems like the married Botkins, McDonalds, Wallers, Browns, Smiths, Mortons don't follow the pattern.

I really don't have any subst antive data to lend (just off a Big Bang Theory marathon, sorry) but I can think of a few anecdotes that could support the thesis that the kids are treated in such a way as to produce narcissism - or are treated by parents who exhibit their own narcissism:

1. Reports that Mama Arndt behaves coldly and imperiously in public with the children, especially Lizzie.

One of those is a scene on FamTeam where two of the boys are appearing live on a local weekend newscast, and other boys are documenting not only the appearance but the reaction of the family back in the house. They're watching on a huge wall screen (probably 8'x8', no kidding) and the one with alopecia starts to giggle and remark about the scene to Mama, who ignores him and watches the newscast with a calculating eye.

2. Parents of any stripe who dismiss children's opinoins or wishes with "You don't want that" as matter-of-factly as if the child had suggested doing himself bodily harm. Repeated over and over, that does tend to leave a kid thinking that he doesn't know his own mind, or that she does want whatever daddy and mommy want (9-year-old Mary M at the orthodontist's).

3. Families in which the older girls are held at home past their fundie-sell-by date to support the mother and father whose grandiose plans for a large brood came back to bite 'em. The parents came from smallish families and to have an army for g-d was far more theory than experience. In this case, the narcissism is with the parents who commandeer their children's lives in support of their own selfish goals and aims, rather than allow the kid to grow as an individual.

4. Those parents tend to be not only from small, but from broken homes - at least one parent or another. Possibly narcissistic behavior was in the grandparents' generation to traumatize the parents (ie, Baby Boomer generation) into thinking that large families, patriarchially run, are the way to self-fulfillment and righteousness.

This works for the Duggars in part (Grandpa Duggar (RIP) was a financial flop); for the Maxwells and Servens in part (both fathers are from father-absent families). I don't know that we have any info about Ma & Pa Arndts' fathers??

Guess what I'm trying to say is that hooboy, yeah, we've got something multigenerational going on!

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4. Those parents tend to be not only from small, but from broken homes - at least one parent or another. Possibly narcissistic behavior was in the grandparents' generation to traumatize the parents (ie, Baby Boomer generation) into thinking that large families, patriarchially run, are the way to self-fulfillment and righteousness.

This works for the Duggars in part (Grandpa Duggar (RIP) was a financial flop); for the Maxwells and Servens in part (both fathers are from father-absent families). I don't know that we have any info about Ma & Pa Arndts' fathers??

Guess what I'm trying to say is that hooboy, yeah, we've got something multigenerational going on!

Speaking of Baby Boomers, here's something no one takes into account. Back when Saving Private Ryan came out a lot of WW II vets went to see it, and all of a sudden the VA was swamped with calls for help from their families. It seems that a lot of them had PTSD from the war and the movie triggered flashbacks. But it wasn't in any of their charts because it wasn't diagnosed or treated back then. It was called Shell Shock and Patton ordered all men diagnosed with it back into combat because US troops weren't afraid.

This included my maternal grandfather, who had many of the symptoms. After Saving Private Ryan came out we were able to get him treatment from the VA.

I've noticed a *lot* of Baby Boomer/early GenX parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, many of my friends have been abuse by their parents for just that reason, and now I wonder if it's because their parents were abused by sick, stressed out parents dealing with PTSD.

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Could be.

With some of the kids I think their environment pretty much inevitably leads them to be childlike.

Imagine an oldest child, or near the top. Better yet, specifically a girl. Mom keeps pumping out more kids, so there is never any end to babies in the house. The family homeschools (of course). This starts out with Mom teaching the kids (including the oldest), but by the time Oldest is in upper elementary or so where schooling starts getting difficult and requiring more time, there is already a whole passel of younger "littles" around the house that Oldest has to help look after because Mom is still having babies. Oldest probably has to start teaching some of the younger kids. Quite possibly Oldest loves doing this, she gets praise for it, and it's easier and more rewarding than her own studies - after all, studying is hard, but teaching little kids, she feels smart and Mom is happy. So Oldest's own studies just kind of... peter out.

Meanwhile, the family is all about sheltering and being "best friends with your siblings" so that means ALL Oldest's interactions are with younger kids (for all the talk we hear of "but our kids can socialize with adults too!" that socialization is NOT as equals - the kids are kids until marriage after all). Just due to the math, the average age of the kids stays pretty low, and so group activities and just the general tone of play in the house stays aimed at little kids. Any trips or outside activities the family engages in are always pitched to appeal to the little kids.

On top of that, the parents are extremely proud of how "sheltered" and "non-worldly" and "innocent" the kids are, so Oldest gets plenty of praise and good feelings for being "responsible" but still seeming very young, dressing young (because it's "pure" - think Little House or all those endless fluffy faux Victorian dresses). All the being "sheltered" and "innocent" turns into an idol, so it's hard to give that up.

Put it all together and yeah it's pretty easy to end up with an upper teen or even twenty-something girl who has pretty much no real education beyond elementary level (but probably doesn't realize that, which is the saddest part maybe), has no real worldly knowledge, and still has the interests and just general social scene of a little kid. She probably can cook and clean at an adult level but would seem quite strange and childlike to an outsider.

This sounds like the Seven Sisters to me.

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This is th estuff cult leaders are made from. It is often used to describe Jim jones. Interesting his father was a WWI vet. Associates who knew the family called them weird.

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So the child grows up to be a perpetual performer. They have no real self, only a false self that is constantly being constructed and reconstructed in order to gain favor (and avoid abuse) from important others. Narcissists are so focused on their outward performance and gauging other people's reactions to it that they end up empty on the inside--no matter how charming or people-pleasing they may seem, their dominant emotions are fear and rage, and they cannot form genuine emotional connections to other people. So they lack empathy, feel entitled to take what they want from others, use manipulation (flying into rages, playing the victim, making false promises, etc.) to get the responses they want, and entertain grandiose fantasies of who they are and what their place in the world is.

Hmm, sounds a bit like XGGreg.

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I think it's a combination of lack of socialization, shunning pop culture, sheltering, lack of a decent education, and not being allowed to leave home until married.

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