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Registered: 10-2008
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Narcissistic Defenses: Intro: Jack & The Beanstalk

This illustration can be found at SurLaLune, Bates, Katharine Lee, editor. Once Upon a Time: A Book of Old-Time Fairy Tales. Margaret Evans Price, illustrator. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1921.

From Jack and the Beanstalk
 As Told by Joseph Jacobs

There was once upon a time a poor widow who had an only son named Jack, and a cow named Milky-White. And all they had to live on was the milk the cow gave every morning, which they carried to the market and sold. But one morning Milky-White gave no milk, and they didn't know what to do.

"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said the widow, wringing her hands.

"Cheer up, mother, I'll go and get work somewhere," said Jack.

"We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his mother. "We must sell Milky-White and with the money start a shop, or something."

"All right, mother," says Jack. "It's market day today, and I'll soon sell Milky-White, and then we'll see what we can do."

So he took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he started. He hadn't gone far when he met a funny-looking old man, who said to him, "Good morning, Jack."

"Good morning to you," said Jack, and wondered how he knew his name.

"Well, Jack, and where are you off to?" said the man.

"I'm going to market to sell our cow there."

"Oh, you look the proper sort of chap to sell cows," said the man. "I wonder if you know how many beans make five."

"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.

"Right you are," says the man, "and here they are, the very beans themselves," he went on, pulling out of his pocket a number of strange-looking beans. "As you are so sharp," says he, "I don't mind doing a swap with you -- your cow for these beans."

"Go along," says Jack. "Wouldn't you like it?"

"Ah! You don't know what these beans are," said the man. "If you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky."

"Really?" said Jack. "You don't say so."

"Yes, that is so. And if it doesn't turn out to be true you can have your cow back."

"Right," says Jack, and hands him over Milky-White's halter and pockets the beans. Back goes Jack home, and as he hadn't gone very far it wasn't dusk by the time he got to his door.

"Back already, Jack?" said his mother. "I see you haven't got Milky-White, so you've sold her. How much did you get for her?"

"You'll never guess, mother," says Jack.

"No, you don't say so. Good boy! Five pounds? Ten? Fifteen? No, it can't be twenty."

"I told you you couldn't guess. What do you say to these beans? They're magical


About This Section

Jack got himself in a bit of a pickle in pursuit of those beans. It would have been so much more sensible just to sell the cow, wouldn't it? Alas, Jack was hooked into taking the easy route. Magic is a lot less work than selling the cow.

The Narcissist, too, uses 'magic beans' in dealing with his state of unease. To that end, he uses a number of machinations to achieve his ends. This section is a compilation of some of the defense mechanisms which are part and parcel of the Narcissist frame of reference.

Everyone uses defense mechanisms, including narcissistic ones. We may behave neurotically under stress. A person with NPD, however, will use Narcissistic defenses and other tools consistently and pathologically in interacting with others. That is the hallmark of a personality disorder.

This section is a compilation of the 'magic beans' of the narcissist, i.e. his defenses. I will be adding topics and story themes to the section as the site develops.
Whether the 'beans' are automatic defenses the narcissist cannot control--or deliberate, conscious machinations which he could control but doesn't--is a subject of debate, but in any case one thing is true. The narcissist uses them consistently and likely always has because they work to shield him from the responsibility and discomfort he cannot hold as his own. As targets, we recognize their effectiveness in the aftermath of the relationship, but also realize there is nothing very magical about them.

"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Oct/26/2008, 8:17 pm Link to this post  

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