A phrase that is used quite frequently with narcissists is “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. The original movie actually had to do with someone who actually had split personalities, which came about because of dissociative disorder. Dissociation is a defence mechanism – commonly used by children who are enduring abuse and basically energetically “leave their body” to avoid pain.
Perhaps there’s a connection between the two disorders, as some experts theorize that maybe narcissism is a product of something traumatic happening to the child when they are young, which stops them from emotionally growing beyond that point.
Nonetheless – we all see it. The guy/gal we started with doesn’t even begin to mirror who we are dealing with now. I think, actually, that the shift starts to occur most frequently from Jekyll to Hyde at the point in the relationship when the narcissist feels that the relationship is solid.
Yesterday, I had a very even keel conversation with my ex. We discussed kid’s parties for the weekend, and he suggested that I take the kids to the party on Saturday when he needs to be working anyway. The odd part is that he wanted something in return for that – more time on the end of his weekend. It’s a win/lose game, isn’t it? And the children are the monopoly money.
He then left with the kids and they report having had a really fun time with him. This is the person that we all wish we he was – that this is the parent that our kids were hanging out with – patient, playful, fun. But then there’s the Mr. Hyde side… where he, within a split second, can turn into a scathing beast, and lash out in anger at you. Minutes later, he can completely change his tone and say he didn’t mean any of what he said and it didn’t bother him – so why should it bother you? Or he can not say anything, and act like it never happened. It’s disorienting, to say the least.
When I hear the term from someone else in a relationship, and they refer to their spouse that way, the proverbial hair on the back of my neck stands up. It isn’t always easy to figure out someone quickly – are they narcissistic, or is it that they just were having a bad moment, as we all do? I recently heard someone I am close to used Jekyll/Hyde to describe their spouse, and felt nervous. Could it be? I’ve known this person for years, but there are definite parts which feel sketchy to me, and similar to most abusive relationships – it shows up mostly to my friend in private.
Oh how I wish my children’s father was always the Dr.Jekyll, and that when they were with their father it was easy, peaceful and stress-free. But.. Mr. Hyde lives in there too, and I have to be constantly, diligently wary of that truth.