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.