“Narcissists lie every season of the year, night and day, to strangers, business associates, to friends, relatives, their children. Narcissists take lying to a new level, winding nimbly through the morass of lies they manufacture in split seconds. Narcissists tell a freshly manufactured story to different people within their circle.”
I inadvertently became emotionally involved with a pathological narcissist six years ago named Tiffany Bredfeldt who derailed my life with a cunningly constructed tissue of lies that I’m still learning the extent of and that culminated in her filing a fraudulent restraining order against me, telling associates she feared to be alone, and alleging to the police and multiple courts that I had sexually harassed her and posed an imminent danger to her, her husband, her friends, and even her mother who lived in a different time zone.
All of this was to protect her image—and to draw an audience, of course.
And I’m sure she would have concocted worse allegations if she had felt the need to and plausibly could have. It’s taken me years to put a name to the personality disorder that would have led an intelligent, educated “adult” to behave this degenerately.
The narcissist may not commit an act that is illegal, but the damage [she] does may be devastating. In fact, because the narcissist appears to be law-abiding, others may not be suspicious of [her], leaving [her] freer to pursue [her] objectives, no matter at whose expense. I have found that the main difference between the narcissist and antisocial individual, in most instances, is that the former has been shrewd or slick enough not to get caught for breaking the law (Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D).
Tiffany’s lies to the police, swallowed by everyone in her sphere of influence, were a misdemeanor crime, one she compounded with felony perjury only days later (and compounded with further perjuries over subsequent weeks and months). Attractive, glibly assertive, 27, and blond, she had every male judge she approached eating out of her hand.
The attitude of the narcissist towards lying is very childish and simple: If the narcissist lies and gets away with it, (s)he interprets this as being clever and superior to others. The narcissist views lying as an excellent tool to obtain what (s)he wants and as a means to demonstrate how stupid others are (Ludger Hofmann-Engl, Ph.D.).
Tiffany lied to everybody, indiscriminately and with dramatic flair (and with a good deal of relish, no doubt). For the narcissist, keeping all eyes focused on her is everything. The opportunity to play the victim for an audience including her husband, her peers, and police officers and judges was irresistible. Tiffany has in fact cultivated these lies over the years since. In terms of ego fodder, this episode was a gift that keeps on giving.
[N]arcissists will say anything, they will trash anyone in their own self-justification (Joanna M. Ashmun).
Tiffany isn’t the trailer park tramp you’d expect a ghetto fraud to be; she’s in fact a respected Ph.D. in the employ of the Texas state government. She commands a yearly salary that’s just shy of $60,000 as a professional scientist. She wears an immaculate white coat to work.
Since I met her (then a fifth-year graduate student), she’s realized her ambition to be a career toxicologist. My ambitions she poisoned. I meant to be a children’s writer.
The most important point is that people who are either antisocial or narcissistic are victimizers (Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.).
Maybe it was bad luck, a fateful collision. Or maybe Tiffany followed me home (or upon meeting me there decided it would be a nice place to settle in for a spell). I just found her standing outside of my house one fall day as I went to climb into my car. I can still picture her there wearing mirrored sunglasses that reflected back everything she looked at.
Within a month of this first encounter (followed by her installing a horse she owned immediately next to my house), Tiffany had thoroughly insinuated herself into my life. She knew my habits and hopes. She knew my dog. She knew my mother (and chatted with her regularly).
Tiffany was married and intended to leave the state within 12 months but kept both facts from me while she plied me by night with sexual innuendo and the promise of greater intimacies to come.
To the narcissist, people are mere tools, Sources of Supply. If, in order to secure this supply, [she] must be liked by them—[she] acts likable, helpful, collegial, and friendly. If the only way is to be feared—[she] makes sure they fear [her]. [She] does not really care either way as long as [she] is being attended to. Attention…is what it’s all about (Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.).
Tiffany would behave peevishly if I neglected her for more than a day or two and showed jealousy even of preferential attention I paid to children. If I mentioned other women, her eyes gave off sparks.
At the time, this seemed flattering.
Her seductions were childish. At the time, this seemed endearing. They consisted in the main of suggestive references to her breasts and underwear (Tiffany in a bikini, Tiffany at a sorority party in lingerie, Tiffany as a cheerleader, etc., etc.) punctuated with lots of prolonged stooping for emphatic presentations of her front and rear cleavage—she wore form-hugging pants and alternated between a blue tank top and a red one. This was capped nightly with hours of significant eye contact and the occasional pointed stare below the belt.
Tiffany got excited when she clutched my hand and contrived reasons to make such contacts seem urgently necessary. She would “misplace” her glasses and once waggled her face in front of mine as if to tease a kiss. (This, I would later learn, was on the night that she returned from serving as a bridesmaid at her sister-in-law’s wedding.)
Narcissists lack a mature conscience and seem to be restrained only by fear of being punished or of damaging their reputations…. Their moral intelligence is about at the level of a bright five- or six-year-old (Joanna M. Ashmun).
If I moved toward Tiffany with intention, she would abruptly find an excuse to have to leave. Then she would return the next night, behaving as if nothing had happened. She repeated this pattern of taunt-and-recede for as long as she thought she could get away with it.
These people are geniuses of “come closer so I can slap you” (Joanna M. Ashmun).
Tiffany vanished without explanation after three months of haunting my backyard and apparently dismissed the episode from her mind. My value as an ego pump had been exhausted. Friends say Tiffany had considered having an extramarital affair—even inviting them to check me out (while asserting mine). She had assured them that of course she’d told me she was married. They figured she got cold feet. More likely she decided not to risk a good thing: her husband’s family lives very comfortably (the patriarch, Dr. Ray Bredfeldt, is a medical director for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield).
The narcissist thinks nothing about a real marriage. [He or she] doesn’t have a marriage; it is a business deal. What’s in it for me? Many narcissists, male and female, purposely marry someone who is on their way up professionally or who comes from a family of wealth…and can be used to extract money and a great lifestyle out of…. Meanwhile they lead a secret life or several secret lives. This is thrilling to the narcissist who is living on the edge of great excitement. He or she is wanted by so many. This is proof of their perfection and greatness (Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.).
I was naturally dumbstruck by her abrupt disappearance—being clueless to Tiffany’s intrigues—and having discovered from the phone directory a man’s name connected to her home number sent her a Christmas gift I’d bought her, hoping the gesture of warmth would elicit an explanation. This only put her on the defensive and prompted her to scheme fresh deceits.
Interaction with narcissists is confusing, even bewildering—their reasons for what they do are not the same as normal reasons. In fact, treating them like normal people (e.g., appealing to their better natures…or giving them a chance to apologize and make amends) will make matters worse with a narcissist (Joanna M. Ashmun).
The gift I sent (some costume jewelry she’d wanted), which UPS confirms was delivered a few days before Christmas, she would later claim she hadn’t received until the middle of the following March. She paraded the gift around work, representing it as a token from a deranged admirer, and then entered it into police evidence in support of her cover story, which evolved over months of statements to the police and courts.
The narcissist feels completely entitled to disrupt and in some cases destroy the lives of others so that [her] needs and desires are met. Along with [an] extreme self-entitlement is an unrelenting ruthlessness (Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.).
I had given her ammunition for her fabrications to the police by demanding an apology from her in a series of emails we exchanged in March (over a weekend). Her emails to me were bizarre and vicious, misrepresenting what I knew to be otherwise, because of course I had been there.
[Narcissists] will contradict facts. They will lie to you about things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself (Joanna M. Ashmun).
I was emotionally conflicted—I’d spent months with Tiffany alone in the dark for hours at a time—and still wanted to see some good in the woman. It was only months after her false reports to the police (the file is some 10 pages thick) that I tried to spell out exactly how she had conducted herself in a memorandum I submitted to the Superior Court. I was caught completely off-guard by her alleging to the lower court in a brief appeals hearing I requested that I had sexually harassed her despite protestations from her that I leave her alone. What I described to the Superior Court—along with pointing out the obvious discrepancies in her stories—she responsively and effectively denied as defamatory lies.
While a normal person will be embarrassed when found out lying, not so the narcissist. The narcissist will see this as a threat to [her] superiority and will straight away think of ways of how to overcome this threat and this is by forming new lies (Ludger Hofmann-Engl, Ph.D.).
Tiffany, I recently discovered, wasn’t just plying the police and courts with her fictions during this period. She also had a following of 20 or 30 at work at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy that she titillated with them. People I don’t know to this day knew me by name. Tiffany fed on the attention I gave her at night then made hay of it by day to double her audience. She’d been regaling colleagues with stories of our relationship from its start, first saying she’d met “this interesting guy” who she thought had a crush on her and daily sharing nuggets of our conversations. Then months later she reversed 180° and characterized me as a stalker with a grudge who was out to get her—and hysterically claimed she’d spotted me around her neighborhood and asked coworkers to walk her to her car. She was afraid to be alone, she said.
I’d in fact never seen or approached Tiffany anywhere but at my own home—where it was impossible to escape her.
Claiming she was being watched was one of Tiffany’s winning tactics for gaining attention. She used the same ploy on me once, coming to my door to complain that strange men had been leering at her from a van. Her friends say Tiffany always felt men were ogling her, that the whole world had a crush on her. The attention this garnered was pitying. Her self-preoccupation and infatuation with what she perceived and vaunted as her own physical perfection became annoying to them. Within the bounds of her limited world—her only friends were coworkers at the university—Tiffany was convinced her looks and body were supreme and exasperated companions with constant reminders.
[A] narcissistic woman may believe herself to be the very model of perfect womanhood, the standard by which all others are measured (Joanna M. Ashmun).
Mr. Tiffany Bredfeldt was known as “the phantom husband.” Tiffany’s closest friends had only met Phil Bredfeldt once in four years. So absent was he that colleagues were hardly conscious of Tiffany’s being married, so her excitedly relating the highlights of her time with me didn’t raise any eyebrows.
A family insider suggested to me years later that her marriage was probably one of convenience, the cementing of two prominent Arkansas families for mutually assured prosperity. I don’t think this woman’s ever been in love or could be capable of it. Her sex pranks were all about ego gratification.
The narcissist is incapable of having a real relationship with another person (Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.).
There was always something queer about Tiffany’s reluctance to give away too many details of her academic and personal life, because otherwise she never shut up about herself. Later I would realize this was because she meant to keep her life at my home and her life away from it discrete (at least as far as I was concerned).
Narcissists don’t volunteer the usual personal information about themselves, so they may seem secretive or perhaps unusually reserved or very jealous of their privacy (Joanna M. Ashmun).
People with Tiffany’s personality disorder are crafty and unhesitant liars but have an idealized notion of the romantic. Whenever Tiffany lied to me, these two quirks apparently came into conflict, and her temper would flare. This always presented me with a huh? moment. The same happened when I invited her once to open up about perceived abuses by her fundamentalist Christian parents. She told me more than once that they had treated her “like a whore.”
Narcissists can become enraged and defensive at the slightest hint of criticism, disapproval, or dissatisfaction with their performance. There is a strong need for approval, possibly stemming from very high parental (super-ego) performance demands coupled with critical rejection (Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.).
Even as Tiffany later represented me as a sexual bully to the courts, the language she used was oddly revealing. She referred to my alleged aggressions as “romantic advances” instead of “grasps” or “gropes.” It was somehow important to her that she exalt my alleged violations.
Narcissists are grandiose. They live in an artificial world self-invented from fantasies of absolute power, genius, beauty, etc. (Joanna M. Ashmun).
Tiffany was obsessed with the books of Ann Rice, an eroticist and writer of vampire novels that feature ideal heroines: supremely strong, splendid, and ethereal. Tiffany apparently imagined herself to be such a paragon and couldn’t bear to demean the nature of my “desire for her.” She even professed an aversion to the sun, because of her pale complexion, and said she could smell it when she’d cut herself.
Sometimes narcissistic fantasies are spectacularly grandiose…but just as often the fantasies of narcissists are mediocre and vulgar, concocted from illustrations in popular magazines, sensational novels, comic books even (Joanna M. Ashmun).
When I met her, Tiffany had nationally distinguished herself by winning an award for her scientific research and was on the cusp of receiving her Ph.D. She was flying high on her own glory. She was besides the daughter of a bank vice-president and the daughter-in-law of a corporate M.D., a kid of privilege who was accustomed to getting her way. Manipulating the legal system and upending my life didn’t ruffle a feather in her peacock tail.
Some narcissists get caught in the thickets of this dark malevolence—too few, unfortunately. Most glide smoothly away, their “fine character” and professional capital neatly intact. This shows how gifted they are at the lying craft. The current narcissistic style, a valuable currency within today’s society, assists them every time. This is especially the case if they are high level narcissists who are well connected to the power and economic sources within the culture (Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.).
Tiffany received her doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2006 and smoothly integrated herself into the professional scientific community, working from 2006 to 2010 for the prestigious M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and since for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, both of them government-sponsored institutions.
So successful a liar is she, it’s only been with the publication of this blog that some of Tiffany’s former colleagues have discerned her pearly character for the rhinestone it is. Reportedly (and unsurprisingly), she’s still married.
Narcissists hate to live alone. Their inner resources are skimpy, static, and sterile. Nothing interesting or attractive is going on in their hearts and minds, so they don’t want to be stuck with themselves. All they have inside is the image of perfection that, being mere mortals like the rest of us, they will inevitably fall short of attaining (Joanna M. Ashmun).
A male coworker of Tiffany’s contacted me not long ago who had been engaged by Tiffany in a conversation in his office that prompted him to look her up on the Internet. He thanked me for the warning.
Apparently she’s still up to her old tricks, too.
Copyright © 2012 Todd Greene
[This post is brought to the attention of L. Roy Taylor, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA); Jeremy Cheezum, pastor of Forreston Grove Church in Forreston, Illinois; the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Administrative Committee; Bartel Elshout, chairman of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC); Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE); Reynie Rutledge, CEO of First Security Bank (Arkansas); Michael Honeycutt, Ph.D., of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; A. Jay Gandolfi, Ph.D., of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy; Cheryl Lyn Walker, Ph.D., of M. D. Anderson Cancer Center; Jon M. Hargis, Tiffany Bredfeldt's brother; Phil Bredfeldt, her husband, a project manager for Weston Solutions; Ray Bredfeldt, M.D., her father-in-law; and Carlotta Groves, Ph.D., DVM, of the McCoy Veterinary Clinic.]