Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Robert Earl Burton: The Classic Narcissist

Fellowship of Friends cult leaders Robert Earl Burton, Dorian Matei and Asaf Braverman at Apollo, Oregon House, CA
Fellowship of Friends leader Robert Earl Burton with disciples Dorian Matei and Asaf Braverman

Posted by "Laura" on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
And to continue on the topic of narcissism, here are a few excerpts from the webpage http://samvak.tripod.com/dialogues.html

I selected some info that I felt was especially relevant for the Robert Burton case study, but there is a lot more related stuff on the website. Enjoy!
“Pathological narcissism involves an impaired, dysfunctional, immature (True) Self coupled with a compensatory fiction (the False Self). The sick narcissist’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem derive entirely from audience feedback. The narcissist has no self-esteem or self-worth of his own (no such ego functions). In the absence of observers, the narcissist shrivels to non-existence and feels dead. Hence the narcissist’s preying habits in his constant pursuit of Narcissistic Supply. Pathological narcissism is an addictive behavior.

Narcissists are aided, abetted and facilitated by four types of people and institutions: the adulators, the blissfully ignorant, the self-deceiving and those deceived by the narcissist.

The adulators are fully aware of the nefarious and damaging aspects of the narcissist’s behaviour but believe that they are more than balanced by the benefits – to themselves, to their collective, or to society at large. They engage in an explicit trade-off between some of their principles and values – and their personal profit, or the greater good.


They seek to help the narcissist, promote his agenda, shield him from harm, connect him with like-minded people, do his chores for him and, in general, create the conditions and the environment for his success. This kind of alliance is especially prevalent in political parties, the government, multinational, religious organizations and other hierarchical collectives.

The blissfully ignorant are simply unaware of the “bad sides” of the narcissist- and make sure they remain so. They look the other way, or pretend that the narcissist’s behavior is normative, or turn a blind eye to his egregious misbehaviour. They are classic deniers of reality. Some of them maintain a generally rosy outlook premised on the inbred benevolence of Mankind. Others simply cannot tolerate dissonance and discord. They prefer to live in a fantastic world where everything is harmonious and smooth and evil is banished. They react with rage to any information to the contrary and block it out instantly. This type of denial is well evidenced in dysfunctional families.

The self-deceivers are fully aware of the narcissist’s transgressions and malice, his indifference, exploitativeness, lack of empathy, and rampant grandiosity – but they prefer to displace the causes, or the effects of such misconduct. They attribute it to externalities (“a rough patch”), or judge it to be temporary. They even go as far as accusing the victim for the narcissist’s lapses, or for defending themselves (“She provoked him”).

In a feat of cognitive dissonance, they deny any connection between the acts of the narcissist and their consequences (“His wife abandoned him because she was promiscuous, not because of anything he did to her”). They are swayed by the narcissist’s undeniable charm, intelligence, or attractiveness. But the narcissist needs not invest resources in converting them to his cause – he does not deceive them. They are self-propelled into the abyss that is narcissism. The inverted narcissist, for instance, is a self-deceiver.

The deceived are people – or institutions, or collectives – deliberately taken for a premeditated ride by the narcissist. He feeds them false information, manipulates their judgement, proffers plausible scenarios to account for his indiscretions, soils the opposition, charms them, appeals to their reason, or to their emotions, and promises the Moon.

Again, the narcissist’s incontrovertible powers of persuasion and his impressive personality play a part in this predatory ritual. The deceived are especially hard to deprogram. They are often themselves encumbered with narcissistic traits and find it impossible to admit a mistake, or to atone.

They are likely to stay on with the narcissist to his – and their – bitter end.

Regrettably, the narcissist rarely pays the price for his offenses. His victims pick up the tab.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) IV-TR uses this language to describe the malignant narcissist:

“An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.”

So, what matters is that these characteristics, often found in healthy people, appear jointly and not separately or intermittently and that they are all-pervasive (invade, penetrate, and mould every aspect, nook, and cranny of the personality):

That grandiose fantasies are abundantly discernible;

That grandiose (often ridiculous) behaviors are present;

That there is an over-riding need for admiration and adulation or attention (“narcissistic supply”);

That the person lacks empathy (regards other people as two dimensional cartoon figures and abstractions, unable to “stand in their shoes”);

That these traits and behaviors begin, at the latest, in early adolescence;

That the narcissistic behaviors pervade all the social and emotional interactions of the narcissist.

Some narcissists are ostentatiously generous – they donate to charity, lavish gifts on their closest, abundantly provide for their nearest and dearest, and, in general, are open-handed and unstintingly benevolent. How can this be reconciled with the pronounced lack of empathy and with the pernicious self-preoccupation that is so typical of narcissists?

The act of giving enhances the narcissist’s sense of omnipotence, his fantastic grandiosity, and the contempt he holds for others. It is easy to feel superior to the supplicating recipients of one’s largesse. Narcissistic altruism is about exerting control and maintaining it by fostering dependence in the beneficiaries.

But narcissists give for other reasons as well.

The narcissist flaunts his charitable nature as a bait. He impresses others with his selflessness and kindness and thus lures them into his lair, entraps them, and manipulates and brainwashes them into subservient compliance and obsequious collaboration. People are attracted to the narcissist’s larger than life posture – only to discover his true personality traits when it is far too late. “Give a little to take a lot” – is the narcissist’s creed.

If a narcissist is doing something that puts him or her in the limelight, and benefits others, then how can we fault them? Narcissists can project images of being the best friend, lover, worker, boss, parent and we accept it hook line and sinker. Is there a litmus test for telling if a gift is a poisoned apple? NPD’s are so good at dissimilating their real motives for being nice. In polite societies, good manners can hide hideous crimes. A sweet smile can hide a cold heart. Take the case of the serial killer Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was a mild mannered “nice boy” who captured the attention of young women by appealing to their better natures; he would fake an injury to get them to help him to his car where he would knock them out with the same crutch he used to seduce them into believing he was a nice person.

most abusers master the art of deception. People often find themselves involved with a abuser (emotionally, in business, or otherwise) before they have a chance to discover his real nature. When the abuser reveals his true colors, it is usually far too late. His victims are unable to separate from him. They are frustrated by this acquired helplessness and angry that they failed to see through the abuser earlier on.

But abusers do emit subtle, almost subliminal, signals in his body language even in a first or casual encounter. These are:

“Haughty” body language – The abuser adopts a physical posture which implies and exudes an air of superiority, seniority, hidden powers, mysteriousness, amused indifference, etc. Though the abuser usually maintains sustained and piercing eye contact, he often refrains from physical proximity (he maintains his personal territory).

The abuser takes part in social interactions – even mere banter – condescendingly, from a position of supremacy and faux “magnanimity and largesse”. But even when he feigns gregariousness, he rarely mingles socially and prefers to remain the “observer”, or the “lone wolf”.

Entitlement markers – The abuser immediately asks for “special treatment” of some kind. Not to wait his turn, to have a longer or a shorter therapeutic session, to talk directly to authority figures (and not to their assistants or secretaries), to be granted special payment terms, to enjoy custom tailored arrangements. This tallies well with the abuser’s alloplastic defenses – his tendency to shift responsibility to others, or to the world at large, for his needs, failures, behavior, choices, and mishaps (“look what you made me do!”).
….
In general, the abuser always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a abuser is by trying to delve deeper. The abuser is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean. He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, a Jack of all trades, or a genius. Abusers never admit to ignorance or to failure in any field – yet, typically, they are ignorant and losers. It is surprisingly easy to penetrate the gloss and the veneer of the abuser’s self-proclaimed omniscience, success, wealth, and omnipotence.

The abuser’s biography sounds unusually rich and complex. His achievements – incommensurate with his age, education, or renown. Yet, his actual condition is evidently and demonstrably incompatible with his claims. Very often, the abuser’s lies or fantasies are easily discernible. He always name-drops and appropriates other people’s experiences and accomplishments as his own.

n general, the abuser is very impatient, easily bored, with strong attention deficits – unless and until he is the topic of discussion. One can dissect all aspects of the intimate life of a abuser, providing the discourse is not “emotionally tinted”. If asked to relate directly to his emotions, the abuser intellectualizes, rationalizes, speaks about himself in the third person and in a detached “scientific” tone or composes a narrative with a fictitious character in it, suspiciously autobiographical.

The abuser is dead serious about himself. He may possess a fabulous sense of humor, scathing and cynical, but rarely is he self-deprecating. The abuser regards himself as being on a constant mission, whose importance is cosmic and whose consequences are global.

Finally, abusers are sometimes sadistic and have inappropriate affect. In other words, they find the obnoxious, the heinous, and the shocking – funny or even gratifying. They are sexually sado-masochistic or deviant. They like to taunt, to torment, and to hurt people’s feelings (“humorously” or with bruising “honesty”).

While some abusers are “stable” and “conventional” – others are antisocial and their impulse control is flawed. These are very reckless (self-destructive and self-defeating) and just plain destructive: workaholism, alcoholism, drug abuse, pathological gambling, compulsory shopping, or reckless driving.

Yet, these – the lack of empathy, the aloofness, the disdain, the sense of entitlement, the restricted application of humor, the unequal treatment, the sadism, and the paranoia – do not render the abuser a social misfit. This is because the abuser mistreats only his closest – spouse, children, or (much more rarely) colleagues, friends, neighbours. To the rest of the world, he appears to be a composed, rational, and functioning person. Abusers are very adept at casting a veil of secrecy – often with the active aid of their victims – over their dysfunction and misbehavior.

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