Secondary Traits Application: Mr. FanTAStic

Posted: October 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Last night, I put up a post about what I believe are the secondary traits of the personality disordered. In it, I identified five traits that were shared amongst people who’ve passed in and out of my life and whom I suspected of being a sociopath, two narcissists, and one with borderline personality disorder. Tonight I’d like to apply those five traits to someone from my past with whom I had a brief but tumultuous business relationship.

First, let’s meet the suspected PD. I call him Mr. FanTAStic with an emphasis on the middle syllable just the way he said it. It was his favorite term to describe his abilities as a musician and to his credit, he was quite good. The problem was, he knew it and the knowledge made him an unbearable asshole. From the minute he walked into a room, the dark cloud of his demeanor descended, coloring everything in its rotten hue. Still, he was a good musician and we needed a fourth member, so the guys and I agreed to let him into the band on one condition: he was told up front that he was a new member to an existing band that was led by me. He would have to be okay with this arrangement, which he said he was. His actions, however, suggested otherwise.

Stage One
As to the secondary traits of the PD, the first one I identified is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” How it works is the PD automatically assumes that he/she is the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In the case of Mr. FanTAStic, his Assumption of Authority was a lot like the disease of cancer in that it was a silent killer – I never actually heard him make this assumption, which is often the case for those like him. I would only come to find out later that this was his mindset when he began to engage in the second of the five secondary traits of the PD.

Stage Two
Once Mr. FanTAStic assumed his authority over me, he started to engage in the trait of Assertion of Authority. This was initially done through his many haughty gestures and attitudes he would affect both at band practices and live gigs. From there, he began verbally asserting his authority in small ways at first. The first way he did this was by strongly suggesting we hold band practices at his house. Since he was a new member in a well-established band of friends, such a request might seem odd, especially since the band had been practicing at my place for more than two years. I considered his request a means of placing the band in his sphere of power and control and I quickly nixed the idea, the other members agreeing that we should just continue practicing where we always have.

The Assertion of Authority trait always starts out small but it quickly begins a pattern of escalation. Such was the case with Mr. FanTAStic. One time, he began grilling me about what equipment would be used for the recording of our CD, with particular interest being placed upon what type of guitar and amp combination I would be using. He made it clear that he didn’t like the sound of the gear I was using and forcefully informed me, “You’re going to need to get a new guitar.” After uttering his demand, he defiantly stared at me with cold blue eyes as if he was daring me to contradict him. I didn’t have a chance to answer him since another member of the band quickly asked me a question, thus diverting my attention from Mr. FanTAStic. Although I switched gears and conversations, I never forgot how off-putting the boldness of Mr. FanTAStic’s statement was that day.

Having poked and prodded my defenses with a series of small but escalating assertions, Mr. FanTAStic finally worked up the courage to go for broke. One night he asked me to meet him at the bar to “discuss a few things” and I already had a feeling this was not going to be a pleasant meeting. Apparently during a previous gig, I committed he unforgiveable act of skipping ahead one song on the set list. It was at an outdoor gig in the blistering summer sun, and sweat had gotten into my eyes, causing me to accidently calling out the wrong song.

Apparently, this was the gravest of personal disrespects to him and he made it his duty to scold me for it as if I were a child. Sitting there in the bar, listening to this asshole berate me for a simple mistake filled me with the urge to smash his fat head with my beer mug and keep hitting and stomping him until he was down and out for good. Fortunately for him, I chose to be diplomatic and at least hear him out. I regret it to this day.

Stage Three
My experiences with Mr. FanTAStic up to that point had exposed the third of the secondary traits of the PD: their Social/Moral Blind Spot. In very basic terms, this means the PD sincerely believes that he/she can do and say anything they want, no matter how rude, and the people in their life must accept it without retaliation. My FanTAStic friend seemed to believe in this doctrine so far as he and his interests were concerned… and he was interested in my band. More to the point, he had now considered it his band, and since the other guys still considered me the leader, he was going to do all he could to run me out of “his” band. Admittedly, I should have said something early on to put his ass in check but I didn’t, and my silence only encouraged his ever-escalating behavior.

Stage Four
It’s my belief that PDs display something I call “Singularity of Boundaries” in which they demand their boundaries be respected while they refuse to recognize anyone else’s. After discussing “the great stage incident,” Mr. FanTAStic began over-asserting his boundaries in all things band related and it became quite clear that the only possible outcome to any situation was going to be what he and he alone was comfortable with. In doing so, he heavily implemented the fifth of the secondary PD traits: Force Majeure. It’s a French word that means “superior force” and Mr. FanTAStic wielded this weapon with the skill of a master samurai.

So what was Mr. FanTAStic’s superior force? His membership in the band, and he would threaten to withdraw it any time things didn’t go his way, which is to say every time. For example, a couple of us came up with a marketing concept to draw more people to our shows and FanTAStic threatened to quit on the grounds that marketing and promoting the band was “selling out,” and he wasn’t going to do that. We capitulated to his demands under the false belief that without him, we wouldn’t have a band, and this set the pattern for how all things were decided from that day forward. It didn’t take long for this cycle to grind the band to a halt and we lost many prime, good-paying gigs because of it.

Stage Five
They have a name for a band that doesn’t play any gigs and it’s called “basement-playing drinking buddies.” Sadly, that’s what our once-popular band had become after Mr. FanTAStic began asserting his perceived authority. Feeling extremely frustrated at our complete lack of momentum, I made the snap decision to exert a little of my own Force Majeure. It happened one day at practice when FanTAStic came strolling in and started verbally disrespecting me. I don’t remember exactly what it was he said, all I remember is exploding upon him with all the rage I had pent up since the first of his Assertions of Authority. As the other guys were showing up, I was screaming and yelling at FanTAStic as he scrambled to get his gear together and get to his car. I followed him outside, getting in his face once more and challenging him to “do something.” Well, he did something, all right: his eyes filled with tears, his jaw trembled, and he began to stuttered like the quivering coward he really was.

To state the obvious, Mr. FanTAStic’s tenure in the band was over… unfortunately, so was the band.

While I did a good job of calling him out on his synthetic courage and exposing him for the fraud that he was, he ended up having the last laugh on me. You see, the other guys in the band were pacifists and vegetarians by nature, not the kind of chaps who understand the need for a good ol’ fashioned blood-and-guts war to take the edge off. They were mortified at my “atrocious behavior” and began to see Mr. FanTAStic as the poor, beleaguered victim of the ego monster that they believed I’d become. The put their writing on the wall and I could read it in its bright shade of cowardly piss-yellow; I decided to employ a little Force Majeure once more by disbanding the ailing and dysfunctional project. Our floundering and indecision made us the laughing stock of the music scene by that point anyway so it was time to stick a knife in it and call it dead.

I have many other instances where people in my life have displayed the five secondary traits of the personality disordered but I want to hear from you. If you can break down a similar experience using the secondary traits I described, just post your story right here in my comments section… but don’t use any real names. Even the guilty deserve to be protected to some degree.

I look forward to your responses!

  1. Tom says:

    I’ve played music in bands since grade school. Jazz Band, Concert Band, and Marching Band. I didn’t run into egomaniacs until I started playing in Rock Bands.

    My first Rock Band was a 50’s show band. It was a band with 3 beautiful girls in front singing and dancing with others playing instruments in the back ground. Everyone was pretty cool in the band and each person could sing. Each person got a chance to sing every set. One guy was such a perfectionist with lyrics from the 50’s song that if you mixed up the words, he would call you out on it after the show. That wasn’t that big of a deal but the biggest ego maniac was the Band Manager and her son that ran the sound for the band. I had to sign a contract when I joined the band and she would hold that over your head. She would threaten that you couldn’t leave the band because you were under contract. Probably the worst thing was her son. He would stand at the sound board like he was king of the hill. If he got mad at me he would turn the mic down during a concert so I couldn’t hear myself sing. I got a new job and place to live over an hour away from the band so I was commuting to band practice twice a week and to concerts. After the third time of him turning my mic down I decided to quit the band. It was fun but the commute and putting up with his childish behavior wore on me and I quit after two years of jaming. The band lasted another couple years then broke up. The manager and her son moved out of state. It was a unique band and they had something special. I just didn’t feel like I was being treated with respect.

    My next band was a classic rock band. The guitar player had a huge ego and I put up with it because he was a very good guitar player. It was only a 3 piece band so we didn’t have to get along with many people. The problem was the third person was a drummer and he usually couldn’t get along with the guitar player. We went thru 5 drummers in 12 years. We never had a set list so we played whatever song came to mind of the guitar player. That could be any of the 350 or so songs that the guitar player knew. That was stressful for me because I never knew what song was coming next and would have to watch his hands allot to see what chords he was playing. He still calls me to see if I want to get the band going again but I declined. He liked me because I can sing and play but I just got tired of putting up with his ego. We might put the band together again but I need a break…LOL

    • johnribner13 says:

      That guitarist sounds like Mr. FanTAStic Light. LOL

      • Tom says:

        The reason I lasted 12 years in his group is that he never disrespected me, was judgemental, or a dick to me…but the group was “his” and an example is a drummer gave us a CD of ten songs he wanted us to learn and we never did…LOL…We just kept playing the songs the guitar player wanted to play…LOL…so as long as your good with playing his music your “IN”…LOL…Then the guitar player named the group after himself and the drummer said, “That’s the last straw” and he quit…LOL…

      • johnribner13 says:

        Okay, maybe he wasn’t as extreme as Mr. FanTAStic.

  2. […] we kept playing, anyway. Sadly, those days had to come to an end, as previously chronicled here and there on Trauma […]

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