Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Haman Complex


In the late 90s my brother had a girlfriend whom we'd known since we were kids. Whenever I visited, I'd bring her a gift and I'd take an interest in her. One day my brother mentioned to me that she'd said that both my sister and myself didn't like her. This really puzzled me. I had treated her just like I treat everybody else in the family. It was also perplexing because my sister and I are of such different character and behaviour. The fact that she was tarring us with the same brush made me think that there was more to the story.  However those were "pre-internet" times and if you encountered odd behaviour in someone there was no way to check it out. Self-help books hadn't become so widely available. The only other source to discuss anything like that would have been my parents and older people, but since we had never had those sorts of conversations it never occurred to me to run it by them.
By the time my brother mentioned it, they were no longer going out together, so I just filed the episode somewhere in my brain and carried on with my life.
Then one day I start reading the story of Queen Esther. In the story, Persian king Ahasuerus "appoints Haman as his prime minister. Mordechai, who sits at the palace gates, falls into Haman's disfavor as he refuses to bow down to him. Having found out that Mordechai is Jewish, Haman plans to kill not just Mordechai but all the Jews in the empire" (quote from the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Esther)

The exact phrase in the story that opened up the pending "file" in my brain about my brother's ex was this:

"When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage."

Aaaahhh, massive lightbulb moment. When she'd said to my brother "your sisters don't like me", what she actually meant was "your sisters don't adore me". (Shame that Narcissists don't come with subtitles, it would make life so much easier for everyone involved). This girl was the youngest in her family and when she was born her older brother and sister were old enough to have been her own parents. So she was used to a level of attention (and adoration) that we couldn't possibly match. (Or one that we would have wanted to match anyway.) Any less than that level of adoration was paramount to not "liking" her.

Haman's personality was a  revelation to me, and I have encountered many "Hamans" since. People who are highly offended because you haven't done whatever it is that they wanted you to do. Which, almost invariably, comes down to bowing down to them.

10 comments:

  1. Interesting observation. My mother is like this, for instance claiming my husband doesn't like her. But in her case, it's also her projecting her dislike of him.

    Narcissists are odd duck, for certain.

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    1. Thanks VR. Until I started blogging I wasn't that familiar with the concept of projection; the thought crossed my mind too while I was writing the article: that maybe she didn't actually like us and was projecting. I'm willing to bet top dollar that your mother doesn't like your husband because he's not pandering to her.

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  2. Kara, this post seems, somehow, perfect :-p
    "(Shame that Narcissists don't come with subtitles, it would make life so much easier for everyone involved)" I so love this sentence. I wish there were those subtitles. Eventually we all get to the meaning, but it would be so much easier to be able to read them instantly. love CS

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    1. Thanks CS. When what my sister said never matched her actions, I started to wonder whether we were speaking the same language. I would have to "interpret" what she was saying as if she was speaking in a foreign tongue. That's how I came up with the idea of how useful subtitles would be. xxoo

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  3. I hadn't thought it quite that way before, and it fits perfectly. Anything less that total adoration is a slight. My NM is like that. My counselor once asked why I didn't just say "I love you" back. I tried to explain how it would never be enough. This explains it clearly.

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    1. Thanks Judy. When you know in your heart that you've given them everything that you could possibly give and yet they're still complaining, you know it's about something else entirely.

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  4. I agree with Judy and VR, in that I see this in my NM towards me and DH. It's all or nothing. I've seen her be like that with friends too, if the relationship isn't perfect all the time, than she'll through the whole thing out. Very black and white.

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    1. All or nothing indeed. So true.

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  5. Sounds like Haman had 'inflated' self-esteem because of his higher-up position. When Mordechai didn't bow down and grovel at his feet (admitting his inferiority), Haman flew into a narcissistic rage.

    When narcissists rage because they aren't granted their "Just Due", they seek revenge---destroying the perceived offender and anyone remotely attached to the offender. I think that's why "whole families" get dumped---not just the spouse. It's like we're one objectified blob in the N's eyes. Similar to all the Jews being killed because of Mordechai.

    Haman's revenge went way beyond "butthurt". Great story. Thanks.

    Love,
    CZ

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    1. Thanks CZBZ. To want to kill a whole nation because of someone not bowing down is certainly narcissistic rage, of epic proportions.

      Kara xx

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