Upcoming Crowdfunded Narcissist the Movie, Story of Painful Relationship Involving Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to Promote Understanding, Healing
Because Political Ponerology mostly focuses on the emergence of “evil” at the macrosocial level of nations and governments, some forget that, even in that seminal book, Andrew M. Lobaczewski talks about how it plays out at the smaller human systems scale, as well. Make no mistake, ponerology is just as concerned with what underlies harmful behavior that takes place in the most intimate one-on-one relationships as it is with how psychopathic dictators can disrupt the lives of millions. In fact, it is not only concerned with both, but with understanding how these phenomena at these different system levels interconnect and feed back upon each other.
It is in this context that I’d like to share with you a project that recently came to my attention.
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a tweet. It was from an actor who was announcing that he had been given a small role in a new movie about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Of course, this drew my interest as I always have an eye out for any new media that focuses on educating the public about the personality disorders and other conditions marked by reduced empathy.
So I looked into the project more and here are some of the details.
The film’s title is pretty straightforward. It’s Narcissist the Movie.
I like that title because anyone who sees the film will know right off the bat that this is not simply another film, like so many, about just any complex, challenging character, but rather one about someone who is explicitly identified as a narcissist. Hopefully this clarity will increase the likelihood that the viewer will actually remember the term “narcissist,” along with some facts about NPD, after watching it. Perhaps they will be motivated to do some additional research on NPD after seeing the film, as well. In fact, even those who never do watch the film may be intrigued enough to do some investigation based on hearing the title alone.
Narcissist the Movie is part of that new wave of films whose creators are seeking crowdfunding to help make their dream a reality. The fundraising for this one is being facilitated by the Narcissist the Movie Indiegogo page.
That page not only serves to help them raise the necessary money to produce the film (as of this writing they have already exceeded their goal of raising $6000), but also offers a wealth of information about it.
It’s evident from the video made to introduce the project to potential donors – featuring producer Steven Tylor O’Connor, producer, writer and director Eric Casaccio and lead actor Hunter Lee Hughes – that this is an endeavor about which the creators are passionate.
From what I’m able to gather, one of the filmmakers actually experienced the devastating end of a relationship with someone with NPD. Many who have been through a similar turn of events know how wrenching it can be and that, as one negotiates the agonizing withdrawal from the relationship – literally withdrawing the energy it was consuming back into oneself – the recovered energy often fuels a strong drive to educate others about one’s experience and the lessons it has yielded. This is especially true when those lessons include a sudden awareness that a specific empathy-reducing condition, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder or psychopathy, was involved in the relationship and its breakdown.
However strong that drive to educate others is, though, it nonetheless takes a great deal of strength and courage to transform one’s pain into creativity and speak up to help others either avoid such a destructive relationship or more successfully heal from one.
In the fundraising video, Hughes says:
“In this upcoming film Narcissist, I play Evan, a man dealing with the fallout of a painful relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For those of you who have been in that position, you know that dealing with a narcissist is a difficult and painful experience.”
The three then explain in more detail just what that experience is actually like.
“The purpose of creating this story is to inspire others that have suffered the posttraumatic stress from this kind of relationship or connection.”
Now, I have no way of predicting the quality of the film. I don’t believe they have yet even begun the actual process of filming it. But there are a couple things I really like about what I have seen regarding this project
- It explicitly names the disorder
There are so many films that display for an audience characters with certain dysfunctional behavior, but fail to explicitly name the condition from which they suffer. This raises the audience’s awareness, in a general sense, that dysfunctional individuals exist, but leaves them without enough specific information to understand in any depth how to recognize, investigate further or communicate with others about the source of any particular person’s troubling behavior. Narcissist the Movie will obviously not fall short on this count. Its viewers will unquestionably know that they are learning about NPD and be able to meaningfully internalize an understanding of it that they can apply in their lives.
There may be documentaries that do name conditions explicitly. But dramatic fiction, involving relatable or compelling characters, can affect viewers on an emotional level in a way that direct information delivery alone cannot. This is why we desperately need more films like Narcissist the Movie that aim to both move viewers through story and precisely educate them by openly labeling deeply dysfunctional characters with proper diagnoses.
- It focuses on education regarding the complex dynamics experienced by victims of damaging relationships with narcissists
Relationships with narcissists can be devastating in a multi-layered fashion.
Not only is there pain associated with the events that occur within and during the breakup of the relationship itself. But, for many, there is another layer of pain generated by the confusion with which they are left once the relationship is over.
Without an understanding of the pathological nature of the narcissist, these discarded ex-“loved ones” cannot make sense of why things happened as they did. Sensitive, conscientious souls that they often are, these victims search in vain for an explanation and, unable to find one, frequently blame themselves, even questioning their very self-worth.
But the pain doesn’t stop even there. Often these victims are then tormented by yet another layer of pain related to the shame they feel about what they perceive as an overreaction. “After all,” he or she thinks, “people go through breakups every day and most of them don’t react in this dramatic a manner. So there must be something even more wrong with me than I thought to react like this.”
There are two frameworks in which to understand the tremendously painful post-relationship experience of a narcissist’s victim:
- Withdrawal from a relationship addiction
- Posttraumatic stress
When a victim realizes that one or both of these processes, rather than typical grieving, are playing out in them, it can be a profound epiphany. Suddenly their symptoms no longer seem like an overreaction and a layer of shame is lifted off of their already overburdened shoulders. As they begin to delve into their past to discover the sources of the addictive tendencies or vulnerabilities that made them easy prey for the narcissist, their self-blame is gradually replaced by compassion for their woundedness and the insight needed to begin healing.
Thus, this is a case – as Lobaczewski said was true of many cases where people suffer at the hands of those who, unbeknownst to them, have empathy-reducing pathologies – where education itself can do wonders to promote recovery and growth.
The filmmakers, on their fundraising page, use the term “posttraumatic stress” to describe the aftermath of intimacy with a narcissist. I count this usage of such accurate and appropriate language as an encouraging indication that, with at least one of them having gone through this process himself and the others becoming sensitive to it, they possess the type of insight necessary to make a film that can truly help others avoid or survive and thrive in the wake of such a situation.
So while I don’t know how the film will turn out, it seems to have the potential to be one that can make a real difference for some people. Perhaps, having seen it, viewers will more quickly recognize a narcissist and maintain strong boundaries. Or maybe they will realize they are already in a doomed relationship with a narcissist and begin to find a way out. Or maybe they will gain a new perspective on a breakup with a narcissist that took place last week or last year or ten years ago and some ragged wounds will be mended through newfound understanding.
Usually, when I write about a film, if you are interested, the best option available to you is to go watch it. But in the case of Narcissist the Movie, at least if you’re reading this around the time of its posting, you can actually help contribute to its making – and you can get some nice perks for doing so, as well, depending on how much you contribute.
If you want to learn more about Narcissist the Movie, check out:
Here is the trailer for the film (Added October 16, 2013)
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Tags: andrew m. lobaczewski, boundaries, breakup, crowdfunding, empathy, eric casaccio, healing, hunter lee hughes, indiegogo, narcissist the movie, narcissistic personality disorder, personality disorders, political ponerology, posttraumatic stress, relationship addiction, relationships, steven tylor o’connor, withdrawal
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