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You Will Know Malignant Narcissists by Their Lack of Nunchi You will often have to use your nunchi to spot other people's lack of nunchi. I'm not talking about spotting the average no-nunchi clueless person, who is relatively harmless. But in my experience, people superlatively lacking in nunchi are often malignant narcissists. True narcissists treat other people as nothing more than a means to an end; Narcissists don't have their social antennae up because they don't care to; By the time you've recognized a malignant narcissist such as Dirty John, you may be pretty far in, so it's worth being able to spot these people as early as possible. There Must be a Miracle in Here Somewhere On my way to the airport in Puerto Rico my car had a flat tire and I missed my plane by ten minutes. I was especially vexed by this mishap, for I was on my way to present a workshop in Florida that evening and I wanted time to rest before the program. The next available plane would land me just a short time before the workshop. Taking the later flight, I grumbled to myself for most of the trip, blaming myself and others. In an attempt to somehow salvage the day, I told my travelling companion, There must be a miracle in here somewhere. I must admit that I did not believe my own words at the time; I was trying to convince myself. When I arrived at the event, I was greeted with tremendous love and appreciation. The sponsors welcomed me profusely, and the hall was overflowing with an eager and enthusiastic audience. This is why researchers often see one set of symptoms or behaviors at a certain age and call it ADHD. However, in a few years new symptoms and behaviors emerge and--wonder of wonders--the patient in question receives a new diagnosis. Consequently, children often end up with several differential diagnoses by the time they're through their teenage years.

A clearer understanding of this dynamic process may also help avoid misdiagnoses. INFANCY THROUGH AGE THREE During this period of a child's development, joint communication, language acquisition, and interaction/intimacy are three developmental markers noted in autism literature. In his wonderful article The Child with Special Needs, Stanley Greenspan details several milestones that children must master to move to the next stage of development. Some of the most common milestones recognizable to parents of infants with autistic spectrum disorders include sensory/self-regulation, intimacy, joint communication, and complex communication. Unfortunately, parents usually recognize deficits in these areas only in hindsight--typically when a child is being screened for learning disabilities or ADHD. Christopher was what everyone would call a good baby. Remember Nunchi Rule #1: Empty your mind. First, try to drop your preconceptions, and see people as they are and not as you hope they might be (my future husband, my last chance at love). And second, observe their sense of humor. In my experience, one obvious sign of a narcissist is that they are convinced of their amazing sense of humor. I'm not talking about people who tell corny or unfunny dad jokes. What the malignant narcissist does is get mad when no one finds the joke funny. At a party, Odin was cracking lame jokes but no one was laughing. So he doubled down and made the jokes increasingly offensive to get attention. Someone responded uncomfortably, I've heard better jokes. Anyone with nunchi would have heard this comment as it was intended--a polite invitation to be quiet--but Odin continued until he found himself without an audience, as everyone had left the room. From the moment I walked through the door, I was hugged and blessed with a great outpouring of heart. In the presence of such a warm reception, my energy quickly returned. My upset gave way to exuberance, I felt no sense of fatigue, and I went on to present one of the most dynamic programs I have ever offered.

By the end of the workshop I had a great deal more energy than I had when I began. A miracle had indeed occurred. The experience showed me that my energy and effectiveness do not depend on things I do in time or space, but on being in the presence of joy. Emmet Fox declared that love has the power to heal anything, and A Course in Miracles teaches that love waits not on time, but on welcome. I experienced a dramatic demonstration that no matter what has gone on beforehand, love, enthusiasm, and caring can nullify the past entirely, and make way for ecstasy now. I was very glad that I was wrong about the cause and the purpose of the delay. God had a bigger plan than I could imagine. Even in a household with two preschool-age siblings, Chris would lie quietly in his crib and never demanded attention. He never acknowledged his mother or sisters coming into or leaving a room. Likewise, his mother would make attempts to get his attention, especially during feedings, when she would try to make eye contact and initiate baby conversations. Chris would not respond. He would gaze off into space rather than watch his mother's mouth or react to his family's efforts to engage him. Accordingly, Chris did not begin speaking until he was thirty-four months old, even though doctors insisted his IQ was normal. Rather than play with others, Chris preferred to play alone. His play was repetitive and imitative. Instead of rolling his cars across the floor or using them to create different scenarios, Chris would repetitively line up his cars in the same configuration as the cars in his sister's preschool carpool line. Whenever anyone would try to play along with him or break the configuration, Chris would throw a tantrum, destroy the pattern, and then reset it. Later Odin was heard complaining to his girlfriend, My jokes are funny. They're the ones who have no sense of humor. Poor nunchi is one thing, but this level of no nunchi was a giant indication of true narcissism.

Some months later it was revealed that Odin had conned his girlfriend out of a large sum of money. In many cases, if someone gets disproportionately annoyed that no one laughs at their jokes, it may indicate that they have a preternatural desire to be liked regardless of their actions, namely that they are a narcissist. The danger of narcissists is one reason why I emphasize nunchi over empathy. Nunchi can keep you safe from narcissists, while empathy will get you buried deeper and deeper. In fact, as it's often been said, narcissists are naturally drawn to empaths, because the empath is constantly putting themselves in the narcissist's shoes, to the point of total self-effacement. By contrast, nunchi allows you to try to understand what the other person is feeling or thinking without losing your footing. The best way to get out is to get out early. There was a miracle in there somewhere, and I was closer to the truth than I realized when I suggested that good may have been operating behind the scenes. Between the Swings Many of us are going through many changes in a short time. As we evolve rapidly, we are being asked to let go of our old life before a new one is fully in sight or manifested. Such a time calls for faith and trust. Imagine that the life you are leaving is like a trapeze swing. You went back and forth so many times that you finally got tired of the rat race and said, That's it - anything must be better than this treadmill - I'm outa here! Then you let go, and you find yourself hurtling through space in uncharted territory with no apparent safety net. Looking back, you see that the swing you left is too far behind to grasp. Ahead in the distance you see another trapeze bar, representing the new life awaiting you. Clearly Chris's symptoms illustrate several deficiencies in development. His solitary play, language delay, and inability to communicate nonverbally all are typical of developmental disorders noted in autistic spectrum disorders. Medical professionals, however, did not consider autism as a possible diagnosis and instead treated his verbal and social delays as being within the normal range.

Like Chris, my son Sam was considered a child who developed normally during these first three years. However, Sam's development looked much more typical than Chris's; Sam was a verbally engaging baby. From six months on he used simple words to try to converse with his brothers and me. By twelve months he was talking in sentences. We never considered that he might not comprehend the meaning of his words. We assumed that since he used them, he understood them. How to See a Person for Who They Are So how do you get to know someone, with wisdom and accuracy? The person will give you all the information you need, whether he or she realizes it or not. If, soon after meeting someone, you begin to think, I'm not sure about this person, that is your first clue that things may not be as they seem. Your nunchi is suggesting that you collect the data to support this first impression. There are a few immediate steps you can take, all of which are perfectly socially acceptable, and no one will be any the wiser. Step 1: Return to Nunchi Rule #1, and empty your mind How you go about this is different for everyone, and it might take you time to learn what works for you. When I was a kid and was taking part in piano competitions, as soon as I sat at the piano, I'd say to myself, I'm not here. Euny the person is absent; It is swinging toward you, and there may even be someone hanging onto the swing with his hands outstretched. But it is still too far in the distance for you to grasp. So what do you do?