“You will be hollow. We will squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”
(Lisette) I’ve long suspected that some of my favorite writers, artists, and filmmakers are survivors of parental narcissistic abuse. I made these assumptions based on themes running through their work that I could identify with as a survivor of ‘soul murder.’ For example, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson touches on childhood abandonment, family estrangement, neglect, abuse and narcissism in such films as Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, and Boogie Nights – yes Boogie Nights. Dirk Diggler’s mother is malignant narcissist El Supremo screaming at him that he is NOTHING! It’s one short scene but it’s powerful.
I could rattle off a list of other artists that I think are survivors of narcissistic abuse but I would only be making an educated guess so I think I will save that for another time. For now, I will say that Charles Dickens is one of the writers that I thought experienced soul murder – maybe that’s common knowledge, I don’t know. I’ve read many of his books but I know little of the man.
Anyway, a few months ago – while I was surfing the net on ‘soul murder’ – I discovered that there is a book entitled Soul Murder by Leonard Shengold: that examines the ravages of soul murder in the adult lives of his patients as well as in the lives and works of such seminal writers as George Orwell, Dickens, Chekhov, and Kipling. I had to get my hands on that book, so I marched down to the research library and put in my request to the Librarian to retrieve it from the stacks – “Soul Murder please.”
Learning about George Orwell’s heinous upbringing with a very evil malignant narcissist father made it abundantly clear how 1984 was conceived and was in some ways helpful in extrapolating ideas on creativity and narcissistic abuse. But, other than that, I did not get much out of Shengold’s book; mainly because I couldn’t stomach it. Shengold is a psychiatrist and a Freudian and he uses Freudian theory to pathologize the patient – the quacks like to call it psycho-anal-yze.
I found Soul Murder, to be just another ‘interpretation’ of the effects of extreme childhood deprivation and abuse written from the perspective of the victim as ‘specimen’ to study. Shengold likely has never had direct experience with a malignant narcissist and instead relies on dissecting the victim when the light of scrutiny should be instead shone on the narcissist. After skimming a few pages, I thought to myself, based on what this quack is writing about the so-called effects of soul murder, I should be hugging my knees, rocking back and forth and involuntarily drooling. Talk about degrading the victims of soul murder further – they are treated as less than human by ‘parents’ who are less than human, and then treated as less than human and specimens for study by an inhumane, psychiatric pseudo-science.
Anyway, I must say the term ‘soul murder’ is a very good descriptive for narcissistic abuse and I lifted a blurb from the book that also sums it up nicely:
A consummated soul murder is a crime most often committed by psychotic or psychopathic parents (also known as narcissists) who treat the child as an extension of themselves, or as an object with which to satisfy their desires. Lesser effects ensue from intermittent parental cruelty and indifference. To abuse or neglect a child, to deprive the child of his or her own identity and ability to experience joy in life is to commit soul murder.
And, to grow up in a home with two full-blown narcissists is to experience an Orwellian Nightmare of monstrous proportions. Here’s a peek at the narcissistic family system seen through the genius of 1984 by George Orwell (survivor of soul murder) – look familiar?
Big Brother: Dictator of a totalitarian state – the children of narcissists has no rights in the oppressive ‘family’ system. It’s completely under narcissistic rule – pathological control freakism.
Room 101: A torture chamber in the ministry of love – abuse, cruelty and punishment from the people – narcissistic parents – who are supposed to love and protect you.
ThoughtCrime: An illegal type of thought – the scapegoat/target of abuse in a narcissistic family is not a weak or mentally unhealthy individual. Quite the opposite: harassment/abuse is often set in motion when a target refuses to give in to the abusive authority. She or he is targeted because of his or her capacity to resist authority, even under pressure.
Thought Police: Authority that uncovers and punish thoughtcrime(s) using psychology and omnipresent surveillance to eliminate members of society who are capable of the mere thought of challenging ruling – Narcissist Parents and N sibling(s) who squeal on the intended target/scapegoat. Punishment ensues by isolating the ‘free thinker’ and wearing down his or her ‘strength of mind’ by extreme boundary violation, mental cruelty, mind control, and manipulation.
Unperson: A person who has been “vaporized”; who has been not only killed by the state but effectively erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely, even by close friends and family members. Mentioning his or her name, or even speaking of their past existence is a thought crime.
Wow – as the truth-teller in my family of origin, I was completely obliterated from existence: including photographs, keepsakes, yearbooks, and mementos. All of my belongings were sold at a garage sale, and what wasn’t sold was given away to the malignant narcissist mother’s friends, and what wasn’t given away was claimed by the greedy hoarder, malignant narcissist sister. According to my grandmother, “No one talks of you.” And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’ve been out of my life longer than they were in my life and I’ve safely avoided being shackled by the chains of “Thought Police”.
Memory Hole: Any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts or other records – how to hide the inconvenient TRUTH, the secrets and lies of the narcissistic family, post abuse cover-up, victim character assassination, destroy the truth-teller, silence the victims, scapegoating and projection, and history revisionism.
The lesson of 1984 is one that can also be learned from the lives of those who have grown up under the totalitarian rule of crazy, cruel, and capricious narcissist parents, in a ‘soul-destroying system’ that is in a state of perpetual war, pervasive surveillance and incessant mind control and manipulation and that Randall Jarrell calls, “One of God’s concentration camps.”
A more hopeful note, in the saga of pain called soul murder, is that a lousy childhood, if survived, can be life-enhancing and a great source of strength; as in the cases of Dickens and Orwell.
And, isn’t that what creativity is all about?
“To be able to renew the self constantly is the highest form of “soul-making” which requires a higher state of integration than making a painting or a book or a dance.” – Don Richard Riso