Useful People


It’s Narcissist Friday!


Imagine walking into a room full of people and beginning to categorize them by their usefulness.  Imagine pursuing a relationship with a person with energy and persistence and then abandoning that person just a few months later.  Imagine every relationship in your life having a certain purpose and plan.

What?  You can’t imagine living like that?  The narcissist can.

It seems important to re-examine this thing called “de-personalization” once in a while.  It is so foreign to the way most of us were raised or grew up that it is just plain hard to believe.

The narcissist either cannot see or has trouble remembering that other people are real.  They are, as we have said before, “tools, toys, or obstacles.”  Because life is all about building and maintaining the great image of self, the narcissist only sees people according to their usefulness.

For example, I have known narcissists who viewed their children as either useful or not useful.  The children might have a certain place in the narcissist’s mind almost from the beginning, or might fall into one spot or the other as they grow.  The oldest daughter might be useful because she carries part of the load.  The oldest son might be useful because he proves dad is a man.  The second child, however, may not be so useful.  The obedient child is useful, while the rebellious child is not.  Or, and this may surprise you, the obedient child may be seen as less than useful.  Notice that the child does nothing wrong, but is simply less useful.

Some readers will identify immediately with this.  They were the useless child, the one who received little admiration or attention, while their sibling seemed to receive everything.  There may have been useful times which gave hope to a real relationship, but those times passed and so did the usefulness.  When the useful child leaves home (if he ever does) there is great turmoil.  When the non-useful child leaves home no one seems to care.  Narcissistic parents sometimes simply write off less than useful children.

This is incredibly sad and very hard for most of us to understand.  But if you realize that relationships are only for certain purposes in the narcissist’s life, you can see how this works.  The girl who gushes admiration and submission may be lifted up by the narcissist because she is so useful to his image or his feelings about himself.  But when she begins to see the truth and holds back, she becomes less useful and the narcissist simply looks for another.  The church leader courts people on the basis of their usefulness to his goals, but when they become burdens or ask difficult questions, he pushes them aside as he reaches out to new people.  The co-worker is a friend and confidante while you are working on the project together, but can’t remember your name afterward.  The relationship had a purpose and you were useful.

It can be very hard to be the one deemed less than useful.  To be pushed aside while another is lifted up hurts deeply.  No wonder people who grow up in narcissistic homes struggle with their feelings about themselves.

This is part of why I believe it is so important to give a message of love to those who have suffered in narcissistic relationships.  I believe that understanding the real love of Jesus will bring some wonderful healing.  To know that you are valued just because you are you, rather than because of what you can do for someone, is an important revelation and blessing.

Listen: the narcissist is broken.  The most basic aspect of human relationship is far from him or her.  It is not right to view others according to their usefulness.  Others are people, too.  That’s one of the first things love teaches us.


Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

4 responses to “Useful People

  1. JJ

    I was told by my ex N’s brother that the their father didn’t call the ex N by his name, he called him “Useless”. He was the middle child of 5. I never heard of Narcissism until I was discarded like our 11 year relationship was nothing at the end of last September. I thought I could fix him. Now I’m working on fixing me.

    This article starting making me feel sorry for him, and in some ways I do. But as I’ve read elsewhere since, he is still a 50 some year old adult and capable of making decisions on right and wrong so I will not feel sorry for him. I’m sorry I didn’t know about this disorder 12 years ago. MAYBE I wouldn’t have left my husband for him. I tried to warn the new OW about it but all I met with was a call to never contact her from the Police which I hope she remembers doing someday when he does the same to her.

    Thank you for these articles. They are very helpful.

  2. The healthy non-disordered, non-narcissistic parent is left to build up the “useless” child. But often, the healthy parent is perceived as “useless”, too, and lacks the confidence and self-love to be a model for the “useless” child. Or the healthy parent is only useful to the narcissist when the healthy parent supports the narcissist’s opinions and abuses upon the “useless” child. Each victim in the family struggles to maintain their own usefullness, which causes increased tensions, turmoil, and more abuse. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s the epitome of family dysfunction. And sadly, the “useless” child often becomes afflicted with narcissistic tendencies, too, like JJ describes above.

    Before leaving my abusive ex-narc, I knew I had to be okay with him thinking I was “useless” on top of everything else negative he thought of me. Struggling with that was the hardest part of my recovery, because we meet so few people in this world with whom we share our inner-most thoughts and feelings. We hope that those people would honor that connection forever, but narcissists don’t. They have no honor to bestow on anything or anyone, including themselves. And then we start speaking the truth about their dishonor, we are deemed the dishonorable and tasteless ones. Whatever works for them, I guess. 🙂

  3. Beautiful, wonderful post. My husband’s ex-wife is a narcissist. We share custody of the children (they switch home every two weeks). Our recent “family talk” with the children centered on the idea that people are not disposable. My stepchildren have learned this from their mother and we must try to counter-balance such distortions.

  4. Jenni Moon

    I loved how you keep stressing that there are degrees of narcissism and degrees of sin. Just because it is red does not necessarily make it an apple. And that there are consequences. Not just of narcissism but of sin. Children bear the consequences of another’s sin (narcissism) against them. My oldest daughter always disagreed with me saying her dad was definitely a believer and I would patiently ask her, based on what? What are the fruits in his life? I remember being woken one night by the Lord with a really strong conviction to pray for him. Which I did. At that time I had no knowledge of narcissism. I just knew he was abusive and finally left him to protect my children from his abuse. Feeling very guilty and confused and broken with no confidence or self esteem. He died young. He had always gone to church simply leaving when held accountable so I don’t know if he ever got saved or not. But my oldest daughter grew up very legalistic like her dad. My oldest daughter’s daughter moved out and came to stay with us rejecting Christianity (legalism not true but that is her understanding) Then the second grandchild came to stay. She had no formal education. My oldest daughter told her it wasn’t important. God was. She spent her education money on a holiday to Israel!!! My grandchild has now passed her Matric with five distinctions has a job and saving for money for a degree. She is a member at my church and in ministry leading singing. So everyone has a choice. God has shown himself to be real through creation and conscience and the Bible. Your site is the most useful I have come across. It is in fact invaluable. My minister and his wife do not understand how deep narcissism goes. They minimise the problem. Which will stunt christian growth. In fact his wife is an ex heroin addict so while no longer an addict may still be recovering as far as the addictive behaviour goes. She has not been able to help. All the minister said was thank you for trusting me with your confidence. No help either. Without your site it would be so hard to see the way forward. Or to know how best to relate to my adult daughter and advise my grandchild. Our minister’s wife offered to support and counsel me but one session showed me she does way more harm than good. So thank you for right and godly assessment and biblically sound advice. There are many sites on this subject but most of them are a bridge to buddhism, sharminism, new age. None admit the sovereignty of God who can use the worst evil for the good of his peope (Calvary) or how to view the evil of narcissism within a christian framework which is very hard for a broken person to do without help. It is possible. I landed up by Gods grace alone, finding out the abuse I suffered was narcissm (it has a name) and on your site. I am now 68 and was married at 20 so it took a long while. But I get to help my granddaughter and be part of the restoration of the years the locusts have eaten. By grace alone. So thank you for what you are doing. It is invaluable to victims.

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