controversies, politicians, politics, Trump

Sarah Palin lost her election, so now Republicans are crying foul… AGAIN!

I was amused this morning when I read a news article about how Republicans are bitching that Sarah Palin lost her bid to re-enter politics in Alaska because of Alaska’s “ranked voting” system. Sarah Palin and fellow Republican, Nick Begich III, faced off against Democrat Mary Peltola, in a congressional special election. Alaska is a famously Republican state, so the GOP apparently felt that one of their candidates would be a “shoo-in” to win. Mary Peltola faced long odds in her efforts to claim the seat of Don Young, who died in March of this year. But Mary did win, and she will be the very first Alaska Native member of Congress, and the very FIRST Democrat to represent Alaska in the House since 1972!

And yet, now Republicans are bitterly COMPLAINING that Alaska’s voting system is a scam! It couldn’t be their candidates lost because people are sick of Republicans’ relentless attacks on freedom, could it? It couldn’t be that the people of Alaska remembered that Sarah Palin, the former governor of the state, QUIT halfway through her term to be a political pundit, could it? It couldn’t be that there are people in Alaska who respect the Constitution enough not to elect a Trump endorsed candidate? And some people have realized that Republicans have ruined their party by affiliating with treasonous, money-grubbing, dictator wannabes like Donald Trump and his criminal gang? No… couldn’t be. Poor Sarah Palin was ROBBED. Not.

All of a sudden, a system that worked FOR Republicans for fifty years, is now a scam, because a DEMOCRAT finally won? What kind of bullshit is that? Sounds like sour grapes, to me.

What an idiot.

It seems like that’s the new mantra for the GOP. When your candidate loses, for good reason, by the way, it must be because the election was rigged. It can’t be because your policies suck for being cruel, anti-freedom, sexist, and ultimately not for the good of ALL people. Alaska’s system worked exactly the way it was supposed to work. Trump backed Palin won against the less famous Begich, who might have been more acceptable to all voters than Palin was. The MAGA assholes voted for Sarah, because they like Trump. But a lot of people, as a whole, do not like Trump. So some people voted for the Democrat candidate instead of flakey Sarah Palin, who abandoned her post as governor and aligned with Trump.

I’ll tell you what. People are going to find out too late that they are on the wrong side of history. If Trump gets back into power, he’s going to ruin the United States. He’s more unhinged now than he ever was, and he’s only getting older and more desperate. Republicans in the know realize how much he’s fucked up their party, and they wish he’d shut up. But he won’t do that, because he’s a grandiose malignant narcissist, and he can’t accept being the loser that he obviously is. So he’ll keep trying to get back in power, and he will not stop until he’s dead or in a coma or something. Meanwhile, the people who cheer him on will refuse to see reality, and when Trump forms his own party, they’ll vote with him. And the Republicans, as a whole, will lose.

I never had an issue with conservatives, per se. I’m actually a centrist, myself. I can see why people on the right get irritated by liberals. I find certain liberal beliefs pretty annoying. And they also have their share of obvious narcissists, who push agendas that restrict freedom and scare people. They push agendas that people see as government overreach and restricting their freedoms (although I think abortion bans are about as overreaching as a government can get).

Take, for instance, “cancel culture”. A few years ago, there was a trend of people videoing people behaving badly and putting it on social media, in an attempt to ruin lives. They would get called out for being sexist, racist, etc… or just appearing to be that way. Then their behavior would go viral, and they’d lose their jobs and get death threats and what not. Well, I can see why people on the right side of the spectrum would not like that trend. I don’t like it, either. Not every bad encounter is motivated by racism, and no matter what, it’s not cool to ruin someone’s livelihood simply because of a disagreement. It’s NEVER okay to send someone death threats or invitations to commit suicide. But some folks on the left were doing that, supposedly for the “common good” of stamping out racism or whatever other “ism” was popular for the day. Those tactics are divisive and do more harm than good, in my opinion.

I think Trump appeals to people who respond to charisma and the attitude that they don’t have to take any “woke shit” from the left. They are also people who are motivated by money, and the appearance of having more of it to spend in the way they like. That’s understandable, of course. What some of these folks fail to realize, though, is that Donald Trump, as a narcissist, does not care about them, and ultimately will not do anything for them. And far right candidates who stump for Trump also don’t care about their constituents.

Not all Republicans are MAGAs. Some of them have a sense of decency and functioning brains. So yes, they will vote for a Democrat if it means this MAGA nonsense might someday stop and we can go back to being a more “normal” country, where women aren’t relegated to second class citizenship and denied privacy. It used to be that right wingers would compare liberalism to socialism and communism. But their policies, which are proving to be extremely unpopular to those of us who don’t want politicians regulating things like whether or not to continue a pregnancy, and would rather not have to worry about being shot, are proving to be less appealing than voting blue. Unfortunately, the United States has a lot of folks in it who don’t read or travel, and aren’t big on critical thinking. So they get taken in by Trump’s promises. Sooner or later, they will find out that he’s on the wrong side of history. He’s not a good man.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad people on the left. I have seen some murmurings about Meghan Markle wanting to become a politician, and if she did, it would no doubt be as a blue candidate. I think that would be a disaster. Fortunately, I also think a lot of people see right through her, even though she keeps trying to play the race card. She doesn’t have Trump’s charisma, either. But she’s an example of someone who is an obvious narcissist and just wants to be on top, as Tyra Banks put it in the theme song for ANTM (America’s Next Top Model). Tyra Banks is another obvious narcissist.

Now is the time for people to vote for people over parties. While I believe that some level of narcissism is necessary to run for public office, and all people have narcissistic traits to some extent, it’s NOT a good thing to elect full blown narcissists to public office. Public office is supposed to be about SERVICE, not getting rich, gaining control of others, or being in power. So we should vote for people who want to serve, not people who are charismatic, well-known, wealthy, or loudmouthed. Politicians should CARE about the people, not having power, money, and control.

Unfortunately, our culture has been trained to give people a chance… even people who obviously don’t merit one. We don’t pay attention to the “gift of fear” and judgment, which are both innate survival tools. We’ve been taught to suppress judgment to our detriment. Bill and I both knew, several years ago when Trump burst onto the political scene, that he was going to fuck up the country. For us, it was like seeing a sign in bright, neon, flashing letters. Why? Because we have been exposed to less powerful narcissists who have wreaked havoc on our lives. Once you’ve had that inoculation, you are mostly immune to narcissistic bullshit. Or, at least you can spot it at a hundred paces. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum they’re on. Narcissists SUCK as leaders. And that is what Trump and a lot of his political minions are. They care more about themselves– money, power, and control– than doing things that make life better for everyone.

Anyway… no, I don’t think Alaska’s election was rigged. That’s nonsense. Republicans need to wake up and realize that MAGA is going out of style. And if something isn’t done about Donald Trump, our country is going to be fucked… and their party will be a shell of what it was. Oh… and Democrats will win… as long as we continue to have free, fair elections, the likes of which I’m feeling less and less optimistic about. But we’ll see. I’m glad I’m 50, and my life is likely at least half over, so I can stop caring about this shit.

By the way… I LIKE Alaska’s voting system. I think it makes a lot of sense. People should be allowed to rank their choices. Maybe if we could do that, we could avoid voting in more terrible people like Trump. Oh, and it’s also high time to allow us all more choices in elections, so we don’t have political contests with two shitty candidates.

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celebrities, narcissists, royals, YouTube

Things that make my “alarms” go off…

It’s been quite a morning so far. Arran woke me up at about 2:30am, because he needed to pee. I got up and let him out, then tried to go back to sleep. I had minimal luck falling asleep again, so I wasn’t completely out when the fucking smoke alarm went off at 4:00am. I only used the stove at lunchtime, so I knew there wasn’t a fire. It was probably dying batteries that caused the thing to go off. Why does that always happen when Bill is out of town?

I distinctly remember in 2014, when we were living in Texas, and Bill was mere weeks from retiring from the Army. He went to Tennessee to visit his father for what turned out to be the last time. I stayed home to take care of the dogs for several reasons. First: we couldn’t spare the money for housing the dogs, since he was about to be out of a job. Second: the pump on the pool was broken, and someone needed to stay home and make sure it didn’t leak water everywhere. And third: I didn’t feel welcome there, and wasn’t interested in sitting around talking about Ex the whole time.

While Bill was gone on that trip, the smoke alarms, which were hardwired to the house, began to malfunction. They went off in the middle of the night, waking me from a deep sleep. There were a bunch of them in the house, and I couldn’t tell which one was malfunctioning, as if one went off, they all did. So I had to go and unplug each one of them so they wouldn’t keep going off at inopportune times. I know the smoke alarm thing happened another time, too, because I remember having to turn it off and being extremely annoyed about it. I know smoke alarms save lives, but goddamn, they can also be ANNOYING.

Anyway, since I was now wide awake at 4:00am, I got up and fed the dogs, made coffee, and started a few household chores– laundry, dishes, and picking up poop in the backyard. Then I went back to the bedroom and watched a few more YouTube videos, to include one by H.G. Tudor. H.G. Tudor has a podcast about narcissism on YouTube. He also has a Web site, has written books, and is supposedly himself a narcissist. I’m not sure when I discovered this self-described malignant narcissist. It might have been around the time I was watching videos by Jesus Enrique Rosas, “The Body Language Guy“. Rosas, as I have written before on this blog, is no fan of Meghan Markle’s, and he frequently makes rather negative videos about her, and her body language.

YouTube’s algorithms suggest videos that are like ones you frequently watch on the platform. So, if you binge watch bodycam videos about drunk drivers, you can bet that YouTube will suggest more of the same for you on different channels. I don’t watch Jesus Enrique Rosas as often lately, because I’ve fallen down the cop cam rabbit hole, but for some reason, I still get suggestions to watch H.G. Tudor’s podcast. And, I have to admit, I often take the bait. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m listening to the man talk about Lilibet Diana, daughter of Harry and Meghan. Of course, Tudor never refers to Meghan by her name. Instead, he calls her “Harry’s wife” or the Duchess of Sussex.

Hmmm…

H.G. Tudor claims that he is an expert on narcissism, because he is a narcissist himself. I don’t know if he is or isn’t a narcissist. Personally, I have my doubts, since Tudor is quite astute on the topic of narcissistic personality disorder, and most narcissists are either oblivious, or don’t care, how egregiously terrible their behavior is. But maybe Tudor really is a narcissist. I don’t know– but I will state that although he offers consultations for paying clients, I would not want to enter into a business agreement with someone who describes themselves as a narcissist. Narcissists don’t play fair. It’s kind of like the old story about the frog and the scorpion. Bill and I have had enough dealings with narcissists to know that it’s not a good idea to do business with them. Someone who self-describes themselves as a malignant narcissist is not someone with whom I want to take any chances.

A rare video that isn’t about Harry and his wife…

I must admit, though, that Tudor’s podcasts are always interesting. He has a pleasing speaking voice, which is refined and British. He also has a cheeky English styled wit, referring to the “Harkles'” California hometown as “Monte-shitshow”, and sometimes using funny or snarky voices to make his points. I also genuinely think Tudor is insightful, and he confirms a lot of what we have experienced, dealing with less obvious narcissists. I hear a lot of truth in his discussions about their behaviors, motivations, and effects on other people. So obviously, H.G. Tudor knows a lot about narcissism, and for a malignant narcissist, he does seem to be unusually empathic, in terms of understanding why dealing with them is so difficult and hurtful. Nevertheless, below is a blurb he evidently wrote about himself, explaining his qualifications:

I am H.G. Tudor. I am a narcissistic sociopath (some state psychopath – this remains a matter of debate by the profession concerning the current application of sociopath or psychopath). By my terminology, I am a Greater Elite Narcissist. You will learn here what that means along with all about the other types of narcissists and empaths too. I convey this is an effective manner based on my perspective. I know what I am and I know the best way to communicate this to you. I am a very effective communicator. I write extensively about what this means and what I am. I have practiced this dark art for many years, I have honed and crafted my abilities. I am aware of what I am and I am engaged in understanding why I am this way and why I act as I do. I am sharing these ongoing revelations.

It’s important to remember the difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy involves understanding an issue or a problem from your own perspective and having pity. Empathy relates to imagining yourself in the other person’s situation and understanding why THEY may have certain feelings. When Tudor speaks about Meghan and Harry, I hear empathy for both of them, even though he clearly dislikes Meghan very much, and only seems to have marginally more regard for Harry.

Another sample of H.G. Tudor’s wares.

To me, Tudor seems “empathic” on some levels, which I would never expect from someone with NPD or sociopathic traits. Most narcissists know how to talk a good game, but they are too self-absorbed to truly grasp other people’s feelings or motivations. I don’t think a person necessarily has to have positive regard for another person to be able to empathize with them. What is required is being able to put oneself in another person’s shoes and see things from their perspective. Tudor does seem quite able to do that, even though he claims to be a narcissistic sociopath– but apparently he’s the “good” kind. I don’t think there is such a thing as a benevolent or “good” narcissistic sociopath, so I hesitate to believe that he actually is one. However, since he claims to be one, as he also claims to be an expert, that leaves me rather reluctant to give him any attention, since attention is what narcissists crave, and their focus is never on anyone but themselves.

An unusually insightful video about narcissists and their behaviors by H.G. Tudor. It’s videos like these that make me doubt that he’s really what he claims to be.

So, you see why I’m ambivalent about trusting H.G. Tudor? I suspect there’s some false advertising going on here. While I would agree that a lot of issues are better understood by people who have gone through them personally, I don’t think narcissism is one of them. Narcissists, by definition, are extremely self-involved, lack emotional depth, and are completely devoid of insight regarding themselves, or other people. In any case, I don’t want to do business with a narcissist, even though I obviously have, on many occasions. I’d rather avoid them when I can. Which tells me that maybe I shouldn’t give H.G. Tudor any hits on his YouTube channel… but I do, because, like I said, he’s got an entertaining style. Perhaps it’s that famous narcissistic charm at work. And again, this is just my opinion, based on personal experience.

I don’t believe there are many truly evil people in the world, anyway. Even people who engage in behaviors as revolting as Josh and Jim Bob Duggar have, do usually have some redeeming qualities. Even Donald Trump, who is a very famous and obvious narcissist, has some good things about him. From my perspective, he’s made a lot of people stop being so complacent about voting. Maybe that’s a bad thing when it comes to motivating voters who don’t agree with my choices in the voting booth, but I actually think everyone should vote. I think they should vote their consciences, too, even if it means Trump or someone worse gets elected. Because telling people they’re voting “wrong” is a sure way to polarize them, and drive them to extremes. Maybe, if certain high-minded, voter shaming, ivory tower liberal types hadn’t been so condescending to more conservative people, we wouldn’t be in the incredible “shitshow” we’re in right now. I, for one, would like things to be much more middle of the road. I doubt I’m alone in that wish. But I really think that a lot of the mess we’re in has come about because people are, in general, disrespectful and selfish, and are most concerned with “winning”, even if the prize isn’t really worth having. To be clear– I am ABSOLUTELY done with voting Republican… at least until the other side sinks to the same level and the Republicans start to look better. Sorry… I can’t rule it out. I think the political parties matters less than the people within them. Right now, the Republican Party is loaded with horrible assholes who don’t care about the little people. But I’m not delusional enough to miss the idea that the Democrats could easily be just as terrible. Narcissistic, power hungry, unempathetic people are attracted to positions of power, and the Dems are just as guilty as the Repubs are.

Aw hell, who am I kidding? I have a tendency to mindlessly listen to endless YouTube videos when I’m not busy doing housework, acting like a housewife, making mediocre music, or writing pointless blog posts. So I’ll probably keep consuming H.G. Tudor’s distinctly British thoughts about Harry and Harry’s Wife. At the very least, they are entertaining, and in my opinion, quite insightful looks at what might really be going on in “Monte-shitshow”. To be honest, I’ve never had a great impression of Meghan Markle. I tried to like her at first, and hoped Harry really did find a soul mate in her. But she makes all of my high conflict personality alarms go off, and I now realize that when those alarms go off, I have to listen to them. When I don’t, I’m always sorry in the long run. Now, Meghan’s and Harry’s marriage doesn’t affect me personally… unless Meghan gets it in her head that SHE needs to run for POTUS. Stranger things have happened. I fear that if Meghan got in office, she could be an incarnation of the left wing version of Trump… or maybe Sarah Palin. And God knows, we don’t need any more of that.

Maybe Meghan will turn out to be more like Ex, in that her big ideas often wind up being overcome by events… but seeing as how she’s managed to bag a prince, that seems unlikely.

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Ex

Love bombing 101… lather, rinse, repeat…

Happy April Fool’s Day, y’all… In honor of the day, I’m about to write about a real fool. I know some people won’t understand why I’m writing this. Some might even think I’m a terrible person for writing this. I don’t care. I’m going to write it anyway, because I feel like I’m watching a train wreck in progress, and I need to process it.

Some readers might know the backstory, which is easily found here on this blog. Other people don’t know the backstory, and maybe they don’t care. As my friend Weird Wilbur says, “that’s very fine.” And some clueless people might want to tell me this is none of my business. And, in fact, they would be right. It isn’t my business, really… other than the effect it has on people in my husband’s family and, to a lesser extent, my husband himself.

For those who need a backstory primer, click here and here. Really, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the history of this sad tale of woe. It’s just the most recent, heartbreaking chapter of a very long, dramatic, poorly written novel of toxic, narcissistic abuse. This story began in the early 1980s and it continues to this day.

So anyway, about a month ago, I wrote a post called “The seaglasshole is at it again”. In that post, I noted that my husband’s ex wife had started a crowdfund. Below are some screenshots. You can easily see how the crowdfunding effort went.

You can see that no one, besides Ex, contributed any money to her fence building campaign. Ex also had a birthday last month, and it came to our attention that she, my husband’s estranged older daughter, and her daughter with #3 (her current husband) all took a trip down to Tennessee to see my husband’s stepmother. Ex lives in New Hampshire, and gas prices are at an all time high. I suppose it’s possible that she and the girls took a flight, but knowing Ex, I’m guessing they took a road trip. I find that to be an interesting decision on many levels. She needs $5500 for a fence, but she has enough money to donate $500 to her own campaign, and she has the money to go to Tennessee, along with two of her daughters. Either way, it’s telling. Obviously, she didn’t need the money that badly.

I noticed that after her “visit” with my husband’s stepmother, Ex quietly removed the link to her crowdfunding campaign from her very public social media accounts. I have a feeling she did that because she talked my husband’s bereaved stepmother, whose beloved husband died in November 2020, into giving her some money. And you know… I don’t think that is a wise decision on SMIL’s part, especially since SMIL has, on more than one occasion, told us sad stories about how she’s given Ex money or gifts that were never appreciated. But I don’t know what SMIL’s situation is right now. I suspect she’s lonely and needs attention. And Ex is all too happy to give it to her in the form of a love bomb.

Well… last night, Bill took a look at Facebook, which he doesn’t do very often, because he can’t seem to log into it on his iPad. He’s only able to see Facebook on his phone. He noticed that his SM had unfriended him. And then I found the below tweets on Ex’s public Twitter account.

Oh Ex… how low have you sunk this time?

Notice the very first tweet. She refers to her “mum”, who is 71 and just crossed an item off her bucket list. SMIL, who is 71 years old, just went to California, where I suspect she saw the Golden Gate Bridge. The photo Ex was reacting to was of the Golden Gate Bridge. Also… Ex is 55 years old, and we know that her adoptive mother is dead, and her bio mom was a married woman who had an affair. So, I can assume that Ex is now claiming Bill’s very Italian stepmother as her “mum” (Ex fancies herself a Scot).

Now… I don’t actually give a shit if Ex and SMIL have become “chums”. I can’t control who SMIL invites into her home, and she’s supposedly a functioning adult. She does have an adopted daughter who is a very good person, though, and I am worried that Ex will do her best to take advantage of SMIL. And then, SMIL could potentially end up in a situation that might make her a burden to other people.

Think this is a far fetched theory? Consider that Ex compelled Bill’s daughters to drop out of school when they were teenagers and get G.E.Ds. Then she got them to enroll in college and take out massive student loans, which she then proceeded to skim money from. My husband’s younger daughter has only just recently managed to pay off the debt, and she does NOT have a degree to show for it. Older daughter, we’re told, went to a very expensive private school, but she’s 30 years old, still lives with her mother, and takes care of her brother… the one Ex claims they need to erect a fence for. We’ve also heard that #3’s mom also lives with Ex and probably serves in an “Aunt Edna” capacity (reference National Lampoon’s Vacation). Maybe she looked after the boy while Ex and her adult daughters were visiting Bill’s stepmother.

My husband’s former wife has a very long history of being a parasite. She uses people for money and narcissistic supply, and anyone who figures out who she is and what she does gets cast out. But she never completely lets go of anyone. She’s still engaging with Bill’s family, even though she’s made false accusations about Bill, and they have been divorced for 22 years. I think if I weren’t around, she’d try to engage with Bill. Again, she never totally burns bridges.

Ex kept in contact with her first ex husband’s family, too. She used them to try to hurt Bill in 2009, when we busted her then 21 year old son trying to change his last name in secret, as he was also being paid child support by Bill. Bill never legally adopted his former stepson, but Ex somehow changed his name to Bill’s and convinced Bill to pay child support for him. She alienated her son from his bio dad and he didn’t pay child support for his son; that was up to Bill, who legally, was never more than his stepdad and, at this point, is now just an acquaintance. Bill loved that boy as his own and didn’t mind paying support for him. But he did feel that since he was paying support and the lad was calling him “Dad”, he should have been informed of his decision to reclaim his original last name.

SMIL knows all about this. She knows that Ex is capable of incredibly low depths. Apparently, she doesn’t care. Either that, or she has dementia. I don’t think she has dementia, though. I think she’s feeling angry and abandoned, and engaging with Ex is her self-destructive way of lashing out at her family– Bill and, perhaps, her daughter, who I know has recently connected with her bio mom. But, I’m afraid she’s only hurting herself, and perhaps her daughter.

Now, there’s really nothing we can do about SMIL’s decision to be Ex’s “flying monkey”/ally. That’s her decision, and her business. My only concern is that SMIL is going to wind up burdening innocent people.

I don’t like to see people being victimized and manipulated… and I have seen the abuse cycle enough times to know what’s going on here. If things go as usual, eventually SMIL and Ex will have a falling out. She will be discarded AGAIN, and her family will be left to pick up the pieces in the wake of Ex’s latest campaign. You can bet on it.

I’ve seen this before. Photo is public domain.

It’s at times like these that I’m so glad we live on another continent. But, I have to give props to Bill, who has told me that this time, he is disinclined to be a “white knight”. He won’t be climbing up on his figurative horse, riding in, and saving the day this time. This time, he’s going to detach. So I hope SMIL knows what she’s doing. And I hope her daughter does what she can to protect herself from the fallout from Hurricane Sabrina.

I am watching an old episode of Dr. Phil this morning. I don’t really like Dr. Phil per se, but I do think this episode is an interesting one, mainly because the dynamic between the guests is somewhat like what we’ve dealt with. Bill was never in arrears with his child support obligations, though. In fact, he went above and beyond. And Ex is still trying to exploit his resources by glomming on to his family. Shame on her.

I relate to the guy in this story. To Bill’s credit, he never went as far as this guy has. But his anger is understandable.
When will the next phase in the cycle of abuse begin…

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movies, narcissists, reviews

Repost: My review of Mommie Dearest, the film… 

I wrote this review for Epinions in October 2007.  We were living in Germany the first time and I needed stuff to do.  So I watched Mommie Dearest and reviewed it.  Here it is reposted for your perusal, because I mentioned it in today’s fresh content. I have not edited this review from its original incarnation.

I wonder how many kids dream about growing up the child of a movie star. On the surface, it seems like it would be such a sweet life of untold indulgences. After all, movie stars don’t have problems. They all live in mansions and never have to think about money or consequences for their actions. They’re surrounded by people who come at their beck and call. Surely it must be the same for their children, right? Of course not. As CNN shows us with its daily reports on Britney Spears’ legal troubles, stars have their problems, too. And their children often have to deal with the aftermath.

Christina Crawford is the late Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter. In 1978, she published a tell-all book about her experiences having Joan Crawford as a mother. The 1981 film Mommie Dearest, based on Christina Crawford’s book of the same name, is the dramatized story of what Christina endured growing up in Hollywood’s glare. Mommie Dearest, the book, made quite a controversial splash back when it was first published. Three years later, the film version, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, made a very different kind of splash. Even though a lot of critics panned Mommie Dearest, it still gets regular airplay today. Certain audiences, most notably homosexuals and transvestites, love this film and have made it a cult classic.

I have seen Mommie Dearest dozens of times, first on HBO, then on regular cable, and finally on my own DVD. I recently purchased the Hollywood Royalty Edition of the Mommie Dearest DVD. At $9.95, it was a steal and a great way to kill time until my husband and I can move out of our German hotel room and into our new home. I watched Mommie Dearest again last night. Every time I see it, I notice something new.

Thanks to Crawford’s book and Dunaway’s over the top portrayal of Joan Crawford in the movie, Joan Crawford has become sort of a poster child of child abusers. Indeed, there are several infamous scenes in this movie that can be, depending on how the viewer takes it, either very disturbing or hilarious. Take, for instance, the “wire hangers” scene, the scene for which Mommie Dearest is perhaps best known. Dunaway, as Crawford, comes into young Christina’s room to say goodnight to her sleeping daughter and make sure that everything is in its place. Wearing cold cream and a headband, Joan goes into Christina’s closet and starts thumbing through her clothes, all neatly hung on satin hangers. Suddenly, the movie star comes across a dress on a wire hanger. Enraged, she snatches the frilly creation off the rack and cradles it in her arms. Then, at the top of her lungs, she screams “NO WIRE HANGERS, EVER!”

Sure, lots of people make fun of that scene. Dunaway’s cold cream mask and wild hair make her look like an outraged modern day Michael Jackson. She tears all of the clothes off the rack, dumps them in a pile, and forces Christina out of bed. Then, completely out of control, she starts beating the crying child with the wire hanger. The scene is totally over the top and yet it always sends a chill down my spine. When I look in Dunaway’s heavily made up eyes, I see fury that makes me believe that she’s an angry, abusive mother and Mara Hobel, very impressively playing the young version of Christina Crawford, is her terrified little girl.

Diana Scarwid, who plays the teenaged and adult Christina, is also very compelling in her role. Somehow, she’s able to convincingly demonstrate the paradox that affects children of abusive parents. She hates her mother, yet she also loves her. As she grows up and her mother inevitably starts to lose power over her, viewers still see that love/hate struggle. She knows her mother is crazy, yet she can’t bear to lose her. She faithfully puts up with her mother’s insanity, seemingly unable to cut the ties. Then, when Joan Crawford dies and the will is read, Christina and her brother, Christopher, learn that she didn’t leave them a cent “for reasons well known to them.”

Mommie Dearest was produced by Frank Yablans and directed by Frank Perry. Yablans also wrote the screenplay. According to the special features that are included with the Hollywood Royalty version of Mommie Dearest, Yablans originally meant for Anne Bancroft to play Joan Crawford. But Bancroft’s Joan Crawford didn’t seem to be working. Faye Dunaway wanted the part and when she was made up, looked just like the star. I wasn’t around when Joan Crawford was a big star, but I have seen pictures of her. Dunaway is a dead ringer. Moreover, the makeup and costumes in this movie are fantastic. The sets are also incredibly authentic. Whenever I watch this movie, I often forget that it was made in 1981. It really does evoke the glamour and style of the 1940s. It’s not until the very end of the movie that I remember that the film adaptation of Mommie Dearest was made less than thirty years ago.

Despite the fact that I love this movie for its sheer camp factor, there are a few things about it that I don’t like. First of all, the movie isn’t entirely true to the book. Of course, Mommie Dearest is a dramatization based on a book, but it leads viewers to believe that Joan Crawford only had two children when, in fact, she had four. Her adopted daughters Cathy and Cindy wanted nothing to do with the film, so they aren’t mentioned at all. Also, Dunaway’s performance is often really outrageous, so much so that it draws attention away from the very serious topic of child abuse and almost turns it into a joke. Is it funny to see Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford so outraged by being called “box office poison” that she feverishly destroys a rose garden with a pair of hedge clippers? Sure. But imagine being a child in real life watching something like that. Dunaway’s performance is so crazed that a lot of audiences react with laughter instead of shock.

Ditto the scene in which Dunaway, as Joan Crawford, brings Christina (played by Scarwid) home from her boarding school in a snit because Christina got caught kissing a boy. When Christina openly defies her mother, declaring that she’s not one of her fans, Dunaway, as Crawford, tackles the girl, grabbing her around the neck and choking her. It’s a grotesque, disturbing scene that, again, is so over the top that people make fun of it. It turns what should be a tragic scene into something that’s funny. While I agree with comedian George Carlin’s assertion that a person can make a joke out of anything, somehow it seems wrong to do it with child abuse.

The Hollywood Royalty version of Mommie Dearest consists of the movie, which is rated PG and runs for 128 minutes, commentary by campy filmmaker John Waters, three features that explain how the movie was made and include interviews with the movie’s makers and actors, a photo gallery, and the original theatrical trailer. Although I saw this movie many times when I was a child, if I were a parent, I would probably think twice about letting a young child see it. Although I counted only two swear words (including one use of the f word), there are several violent scenes that involve children that might be frightening for them.

Loved or hated, Mommie Dearest is rarely ignored or forgotten. I’m proud to have it as part of my personal movie collection. And, after watching this, I can’t help but remember that movie stars and their children have problems too.

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book reviews, mental health, narcissists, psychology

A review of My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me: A true story of betrayal and a shocking family secret by Helen Naylor…

Today, I made a concerted effort to finish reading my latest book, My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me: A true story of betrayal and a shocking family secret by Helen Naylor. This book was just published in November 2021. I decided to read it because I’m a sucker for true stories, especially when they are about people who have psychological issues. I’ve always found Munchausen’s Syndrome to be a fascinating disorder, although this was the first time I had seen a book about Munchausen’s Syndrome and not its related malady, Munchausen’s By Proxy.

Munchausen’s Syndrome, also known as “factitious disorder imposed on self”, is a psychological disorder in which a person either feigns illness or injury, or deliberately makes themselves ill. They do so to get narcissistic supply, attention, comfort, or sympathy from healthcare providers, their friends, and especially their families. People with Munchausen’s Syndrome exaggerate any real symptoms they have, often insisting that physicians do very thorough examinations, procedures, and tests. They are often hospitalized, and they have a tendency to know a lot about diseases.

If you search this blog, you’ll find that I’ve already reviewed a couple of books about Munchausen’s By Proxy (MbP). One book was written by a woman who was raised by a narcissistic mother who constantly and deliberately made her ill so that she could get narcissistic supply from medical professionals. The other is a true crime book about a social worker who adopted two babies from Korea in the 1970s and deliberately made them sick, resulting in the death of one of the babies. Again, it was so she could get attention and regard from medical professionals, praising her for her devotion and dedication to her children. MbP is an especially horrifying disorder, as it’s often imposed on people who are helpless, like children, elderly people, or the disabled.

In British author Helen Naylor’s case, she was not a victim of her mother doing horrifying things to her physically in order to get attention. Instead, it was Helen’s mother, Elinor, whom Helen describes as a narcissist, who was making up illnesses and demanding attention from her family and friends. Elinor is now deceased, but Helen writes that her mother pretended to have chronic illnesses for about thirty years. Helen’s father, who predeceased his wife by some years, actually was debilitated with a serious heart disease. When he passed away, Helen, as the only child, was left to take care of her mother, whose constant pleas for attention and emotional outbursts caused real hardships for Helen, who was also married and raising two small children.

For years, Helen endured the constant dramas and stresses surrounding her mother’s mysterious illness, called ME in the book. I looked up ME and found it defined as myalgic encephalomyelitis, perhaps better known to us Yanks as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). CFS made a lot of news back in the late 1980s and early 90s. Elinor Page had supposedly contracted ME at around that time. The ME made it difficult for Elinor to care for young Helen, whom she described as a “difficult child”. Helen writes of her mother not having the energy to take her places or spend time with her. Or, so it seemed, anyway.

Throughout her life, Helen’s mother required her daughter to attend to her every need. She convinced many people that she was very sick, and Helen soon found herself being scrutinized and judged by other people, who expected her to take care of her mother. Most of those people never saw Elinor’s true personality. Most of them never saw Elinor when she was full of energy and fully capable of socializing and taking care of herself. They only saw the fake persona she put on in a pathetic bid for sympathy and attention. Elinor would do things like deliberately starve herself so that she looked sicker and weaker. She would stage falls near emergency pull cords and insist that she was in dire need of medical attention. She would get the attention, and nothing notable would be found. Elinor would demand full time “carers”, but she didn’t really need them. So she would call her daughter, who was very busy with her own life and raising her own children.

After Elinor died, Helen found her mother’s diaries, which she kept quite religiously. It was after she read them that Helen realized just how psychologically sick her mother was, even though she insisted that she was debilitated by ME and later by Parkinson’s Disease. Elinor did have mild Parkinsonism, which is not the same as the full blown disease. But Elinor wanted to be regarded as very ill, and she would do all she could to convince people that she was unwell and needed hospital care. I think it’s important to point out that again, this book is set in the United Kingdom, which has the National Health Service. So, while these repeated medical episodes would cost a lot in the United States, money to pay for Elinor’s repeated medical visits and hospitalizations was much less of an issue in England.

I’ll be honest. I found this book compelling, but kind of hard to get through. There were a few parts of the book at which I started to think I didn’t like it very much. But then, toward the end of the book, when Helen writes about the extreme drama her mother put her through as she was trying to raise her children, my heart went out to her. I realized just how incredibly toxic that situation was for everyone involved. Yes, it was very hard on Helen, her husband, Peter, and their two children, Bailey and Blossom, but I think it must have been very hard on Elinor, too. At one point, Helen writes an insightful comment about what had caused Elinor to behave in this way. She was desperate for attention, and must have felt she would die without it.

Of course, it’s easy to have sympathy for the person with Munchausen’s Syndrome when you’re not the person having to deal with their constant emergencies and pleas for attention, coupled with the angry tirades, dismissive hairflips, and outright dramatic scenes that come from narcissists. Having heard from my husband’s daughter about what it was like for her to grow up with a narcissistic mother, I definitely felt for Helen Naylor.

It really is tough when your mother is not a mom. And you are forced to grow up years before your time, taking care of things that children shouldn’t have to worry about. And that demand for duty continues even after you’ve come of age, left the house, gotten married, and have small children of your own to tend. In my husband’s daughter’s case, at least there are siblings– notably, her older sister, who has been recruited to stay home and take care of their mother and youngest brother, who is legitimately disabled. Poor Helen was an only child. And her mother had enlisted a number of “flying monkeys”– friends who were there to help do her dirty work, guilting, and grifting. Helen Naylor didn’t have a “mum”– as she put it. She had a mother who parasitically fed off of her own daughter– for narcissistic supply and to serve as an emotional punching bag. Later, when she found her mother’s diaries, she realized that not only had her mom been faking everything for decades, but Helen was also severely neglected as a helpless baby. She suffered an unexplained and untreated broken arm at six months old, and her mother would leave her alone for hours while she went out drinking.

When I finished My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me this afternoon, I came away with a basically positive opinion of it. It’s reasonably well-written and offers a different look at Munchausen’s. Again, most of the books I’ve seen about Munchausen’s are written about mothers who make their children sick. This book is about a woman who deliberately made herself sick or schemed to make herself look like she’d taken a fall. She fooled a lot of people, except for those who caught her when her facade had slipped. I would imagine that when that happened, it was also traumatic and embarrassing for Helen, who had to deal with the fact that her mother did this stuff. It’s pretty clear to me that Helen is normal and just wants to be a good mom and wife.

People who have to deal with narcissists often hear about going “no contact”. I’m pretty sure that Helen’s husband eventually advocated for that. Or, at least not coming right away when Elinor called. But it’s very hard to turn your back on your own mom. I’m sure that is what kept Helen trapped for so many years. Now that her mother is dead, Helen no longer gets the dramatic phone calls from her mother or people taking care of her mother or worse, finding out that her mother has been hospitalized or moved days after the fact. She no longer has to deal with her mother’s friends, trying to horn in on overseeing her mother’s care and take her things. The traumatic memories linger, however, and I’m sure she is still haunted by them. When I stop and think about just how much this must have been for Helen to deal with, it just blows my mind.

Anyway… I think My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me is well worth reading for those who are interested in psychology, narcissists, or unusual psychological disorders. I will warn that this book is written in a distinctly British style, so some of the terminology and slang may be foreign to American readers. Personally, I found this book kind of hard to finish, but I appreciated that it offers a different perspective of people who need attention so badly that they have to make themselves or other people sick.

It’s pretty clear that Elinor is primarily very narcissistic, but she has a number of other behaviors that augment that already unbearable personality trait. She has the Munchausen’s, but there are also elements of a potential eating disorder and perhaps body dysmorphic disorder, as well as depression and anxiety. She must have been a miserable person, and I am sure she was very miserable to be around. I hope wherever she is now, she’s finally resting in peace. And I hope writing this book helps bring peace and closure to her long suffering daughter.

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