Psychopaths can be so difficult to identify that even when they tell us who they are, we still can’t see it. By projecting their camouflage into our minds, they can hide in plain sight. Their sense of entitlement is their camouflage. It emits from the narcissist’s inflated ego, disguising their shame and their vulnerabilities. Initially, entitlement is a beautiful lure that radiates brilliantly. Once we’ve swallowed the bait, it explodes and contaminates us with the narcissist’s by-passed shame, which it had previously disguised.
Entitlement is for Infants
A few weeks after I left the ex-Psychopath, I read Sandy Hotchkiss’ illuminating book, Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism. This was the first place where I saw narcissism described as a condition of emotionally arrested development. According to this theory, the narcissist is still experiencing their emotional life as they did when they were infants. It seemed inconceivable that an intelligent, walking and talking adult is still feeling the way they did when they were in diapers.
Then I read in the news about a Florida man who was scamming women into believing he was mentally incapacitated so that they would bottle feed him and change his diapers. He easily convinced them that he was disabled because the truth was beyond their imagination: A psychopathic predator was sliming people with his dirty diaper for no discernible reason.
The news article revealed to me that the theory of arrested development was more than metaphor, it was factual. Whatever intellect a narcissist may acquire, is used in the service of maintaining their sense of entitlement. They feel entitled to be given everything they want and in return, they give others the responsibility for their shame. We would hope that most people would easily recognize diaper-man as a psychopath, but later I read that another predator had repeated this scam in New Hampshire.
According to the theory, we all have a little narcissism left in us from our infancy. That memory creates the attraction we feel when we see a little – or a large – narcissist displaying their entitlement.
Of course, not all entitled people will demand to have their diapers changed. But many of them will tell you exactly what they do want: Everything
Psychopaths like to show and tell their entitlement.
For instance, “Fred”, the Psychopath’s minion, out of the blue told me, “Everyone should care about me and I shouldn’t have to care about anyone.”
That wasn’t a completely surprising statement coming from Fred. I already knew that he was a psychopath, he doesn’t have a very convincing mask. His cluster A, B and C disorders make up his entire persona. He has so many symptoms it oozes out of him. I just never expected him to be so literal and forthright about his overblown sense of entitlement. Though I should have expected it, since he had previously described himself as “just like Ted Kaczinsky, the Unibomber. Living in the woods and plotting world domination.” One day he even announced that he had oppositional defiant disorder. I told him he was scaring people.
Another psychopath phrased it differently. She said, “I’m just selfish, I’ve always been selfish. It’s just the way I am.” That wasn’t news to me either. A few years later though, it took on a more sinister tone, when she said, “Everyone’s evil. It’s okay to be evil.”
Knowing that she’s not the brightest bulb, I tried to find another way to interpret her meaning. Perhaps she was referring to the fact that nobody’s perfect and we’re all sinners? I was in denial. If she had meant that, she would have added that we must repent and do better, not that we should embrace it, Ayn Rand style.
Her psychopathic husband had also flat-out told me, “We like that you’re always doing things for us, but we’re never going to do anything for you.” She just stood there and smiled.
Entitlement is Dangerous
One might think that being selfish only has an upside for the narcissist, but their overwhelming sense of entitlement can be a danger to themselves as well as to others. A few years ago, the same woman, (I’ll call her the it’s-okay-to-be-evil-psychopath), was standing on a sidewalk trying to cross the street, but the light wouldn’t change. The T-shaped intersection was unusual. She saw a crosswalk but she didn’t see the button to press for the walk-light. How would she ever get across? That’s when her sense of entitlement kicked in.
“There’s no button, they HAVE to stop” she announced. Then she proceeded into the street despite the four lanes of traffic heading toward her. I screamed. She immediately turned and ran back to the safety of the sidewalk.
In this situation, entitlement was less obvious. Trying to understand her behavior, I had focused on the first part of the sentence, “There’s no button.” This led me to believe that her confusion caused the near accident. It took me a couple of years to realize that the second part of the sentence was the important part, “They HAVE to stop.” Her entitlement creates her reality. The cars must magically obey her will – except when they don’t.
Her entitlement may seem obvious now, but at the time I couldn’t see it because it’s so overblown that I’d never imagine anyone having that mindset. I simply can’t relate to the assumption that reality should bend to my will just because I’m me. This is a situation where entitlement denies reality and creates a clear and present danger to people.
She’s been in two separate parking lot accidents where cars have backed into her. It’s never her fault (of course) but I can’t help but think that she places her car in the path of the backing cars because she thinks, “they have to stop.” She can’t ever yield the right of way when her sense of entitlement takes over, no matter what the consequences. And the consequence was that someone else had to pay to fix her car. Maybe entitled people just shouldn’t drive or walk the streets.
My ex-Psychopath usually prefers the psychopathic tell when he divulges his entitlement, but one statement he made was very similar to Fred’s.
“I should just get to play and other people should pay me.” he informed me. I thought he was referring to the arrangements he had with his millionaire friends who paid him to fix their aircraft, teach them to fly, design and build mechanical toys and lead them on grand adventures. What he was really saying is that he can do what he wants and never take responsibility — like an infant.
By using equivocal statements, he knows he can later backtrack and say he meant something else, that it was my fault for misunderstanding him. Most psychopaths use this excuse or else they say, “I was only joking. You have no sense of humor.”
Psychopaths will rarely drop the mask completely, until after they’ve been outed. Then it’s a relief to express their entitlement which they’ve kept under a mask their entire lives. They hated that they had to stay silent about their true identity as the princes of darkness and they look forward to revealing how special and smart they are to the entire world.
After he was arrested, Gary Ridgeway, the Green River murderer, when asked what made him different from other people, replied, “It’s that caring thing.” Indicating that he lacked it.
Before his execution, Ted Bundy described himself as “The meanest son-of-a-b**ch that ever lived.”
In another tell, my ex-psychopath once said, “The polar bear is the meanest animal on the planet. It kills just for the pleasure of killing. It kills even when there’s no reason. You’d never want to meet a polar bear.”
I couldn’t imagine why I would need that tidbit of information. Where would I meet a polar bear? The zoo?
But, years earlier, he had offhandedly remarked, “I’m not like other guys, I have no ego.”
Knowing how psychopaths love to brag and that that’s how they often get caught, he was differentiating himself because he brags through psychopathic tells, changing the words so he can equivocate, if necessary. Eventually, I put the two together, even years apart, and I realized, he’s the polar bear.
In fact after I left him he said, “I’m something – I mean – someone, you’d never hope to meet again.” The equivocal statement’s meaning is that he is special, but in what way? Like an infant? Or a polar bear?
Nearing the end of my discard, I asked him why he would do some of the egregious things he’d done.
His answer: “Because I can.” This is a common reply from psychopaths when they’re feeling especially entitled.
Those three words are the heart of entitlement. They succinctly refer to a lack of conscience. He was telling me that other people are prevented from offensive behavior by their conscience, but he doesn’t have that limitation, which he views as a weakness. Like Ayn Rand, he believes that a lack of conscience is his strength.
Entitlement is a Package Bomb.
From these many examples, one would think that it’s pretty easy to see entitlement in a person, especially when they flat-out tell you. But entitlement is a package. It doesn’t just come out in words, it’s also part of the narcissist’s performance. That’s why their boundary-crossing charm is so effective, it’s accompanied by self-confidence. Their pity ploys and their rage are filled with conviction. They believe their own lies and they believe they have special status. We don’t perceive their entitlement as coming from a false-self because it seems so real. We believe it’s justified entitlement.
I saw a clear example of this entitled-to-create-reality package when I asked the okay-to-be-evil-psychopath what she was going to tell her therapist about her medical problems.
Her vehement response was, “I’m going to tell the TRUTH! The truth I made up.” I had a WTF? Moment right before I began laughing. So much for therapy, right?
What I’ve noticed is that she sounds the MOST convincing when she’s lying. That’s because she’s working so hard to believe it.
She tells herself what the character George Costanza on the tv show Seinfeld said to Jerry Seinfeld, “Jerry, just remember it’s not a lie, if YOU believe it.”
Psychopaths Exude Entitlement.
Psychopaths are People of the Lie. They convince themselves first so they can convince others. We see their confidence and we believe them – because why else would they feel that way if it wasn’t true? They are well aware of how their body language affects us. Because humans mirror each other, their confidence creates confidence in their audience. It soothes our anxiety and that’s how the package is planted. When baby is happy, everyone’s happy.
Unfortunately, the real reason that psychopaths seem so confident is revealed in the words of the Green River murderer, “It’s that caring thing.” They’ve convinced themselves that they don’t have to care about anyone, but everyone should care about them. When you don’t care — ever — about anything, you don’t feel anxiety and you appear cool and relaxed. Psychopaths, long ago, developed a technique for flying off to Never-Never Land at a moment’s notice, if reality becomes uncomfortable. This is a place where they decide what’s real and true. They reign there, so why should they care about reality? Denial works fine until you see that reality is a car zooming toward you.
Their goal is to bring you with them to Never-Never Land. You can fly Wendy, you just have to believe! And you never have to grow up. Then they throw you under the proverbial bus.Entitlement can seem very attractive, that’s why it’s the perfect lure for the narcissist’s human prey. We all would like to think that we’re special and powerful, or at least competent. The psychopath assures us his entitlement is merited and that we won’t be left holding the diaper bag. Someone else will. That’s the beauty of entitlement.
But the psychopath’s entitlement package eventually turns ugly when it needs a sacrifice, then it becomes entitled rage. If you accept the package, you can expect it to blow up eventually and you’ll be mired in the psychopath’s shame. Someone has to be the scapegoat for his shame.
Remember that entitlement is a Pandora’s box, beautifully gift wrapped and delivered. Or alternatively, it’s wrapped in brown paper and innocuously left, appearing harmless, at the doorstep of your mind. Once you accept it, you’ve started down the path of idealize, devalue and discard because the entitled narcissist is always looking for sacrificial victims. They’ll eventually need a scapegoat and entitlement is the hook, the line and the sinker for recruiting scapegoats.
The late poet, Maya Angelou, famously said, “When someone tells you who they are, believe it the first time.” Then why don’t we? There’s nothing wrong with our eyes and ears, it’s just that we refuse to acknowledge the ugly truth about entitlement. Like a car barreling toward us at 80 mph, entitlement is fraught with danger. When you finally do allow yourself to see it clearly it, you’ll know you’ve been in the presence of a psychopath.
The psychopath’s shamelessness is another reason we may be tempted to overlook entitlement. We’re afraid that pointing it out would embarrass everyone. It’s like the emperor with no clothes. Who would want to point to something so shameful?
See if you can feel the entitlement in this video. When the shamelessness is pointed out, the shame seems to bounces right off the narcissist. But notice that one man refuses to accept the package.
The book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, by Lundy Bancroft has an excellent description of entitlement.
Share your story of the darndest thing you’ve heard a narcissist say, in the comment section below.
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