Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Man In The Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald @LindaMac1 #BlogTour #GuestPost #NeedlecordJacket

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket follows the story of two women who are each struggling to let go of a long-term destructive partnership. Felicity is reluctant to detach from her estranged archaeologist husband and, after being banished from the family home, she sets out to test the stability of his relationship with his new love, Marianne. 

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved. 

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a thought-provoking book, written from the perspectives of Sarah and Felicity. The reader is in the privileged position of knowing what’s going on for both of the women, while each of them is being kept in the dark about a very important issue. 

Inspired by the work of Margaret Atwood and Fay Weldon, Linda explores the issue of mental abuse in partnerships and the grey area of an infidelity that is emotional, not physical. The book will appeal to readers interested in the psychology of relationships, as well as fans of Linda’s ‘Lydia’ series.

The Man In The Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald was published in May 2017. I'm thrilled to welcome the author here to Random Things today with a guest post that she's written:

It’s all about Them: The Narcissist and Relationships

All personality problems are likely to create difficulties in relationships, but what of the trait known as narcissism? If you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist the chances are you didn’t come out of it unscathed.

Identifying the Narcissist
“I could do that,” says the narcissist about most things. Narcissists lure the unsuspecting person into their world with their grandiose plans, their fantasies of success and their undoubted charisma. In the early stages of a relationship, they are able to create the belief that their wild schemes are possible. It’s only with time that the fantasies are exposed as nothing more than idle dreaming.
Narcissists are arrogant and consider themselves to be important and special. They always want to talk about themselves and require constant attention and admiration. Carly Simon’s song, “You’re so Vain” exemplifies the narcissist. It’s all about them and how wonderful they are.
They take advantage of people to get what they want and have unreasonable expectations. Consequently, they are good at dishing out criticism but can’t take it, becoming hostile if challenged. If you do something they don’t like, then you don’t understand them. If ever they tell stories of their own failure, it is always someone else’s fault. A lack of empathy is one of their most damaging traits. This means they don’t realise the hurt they cause to others. And a sense of entitlement makes them believe they should be able to do whatever they want regardless of how this affects the person they’re with.
Consequently, infidelity is likely. The narcissist adores conquest and also the boost to self-esteem of someone else finding them attractive.

Who are Narcissists?
Narcissism is believed to be a continuum where only at the extreme end of severe may a person be diagnosed as having a narcissistic personality disorder. A narcissist may be very successful in the West where it is encouraged to display confidence and talk up achievements and they are frequently found in leadership roles. This, however, doesn’t necessarily make them good leaders. We only have to look around the world today to
find a few characters who appear to display an extreme level of narcissism and whose suitability for such a powerful role is questionable.
Approximately 1% of the general population is believed to have narcissistic personality disorder but it may be more than this. There are certainly many at the high end of the continuum who may have a serious negative impact on life and relationships. When I wrote The Man in the Needlecord Jacket, I deliberately chose a character who wouldn’t have been at the top end of the scale but who nonetheless displayed many of characteristics of narcissism and led a life of selfishness in his close relationships. I wanted to show how easy it is to become drawn to a narcissist type and also how an unsuspecting person may fall in love with one and find it difficult to let go.

Nature or Nurture?
While opinion generally highlights an environmental cause for narcissism, some heritability studies appear to indicate a genetic link too. But given that narcissistic parents are more likely to teach values and attitudes linked with narcissism, it is difficult to isolate the relative contribution of nature or nurture. There may be a predisposition towards narcissism and it is thought that a disturbed relationship with a parent may be the environmental trigger. Constant devaluing of the child is thought to be a possible contributor.
The environmental explanation for narcissism sits comfortably with the findings that more men than women are diagnosed as having narcissistic personality disorder. In many societies, women are taught to take a more selfless nurturing role and narcissistic attitudes are frowned upon. Conversely, in men, swagger and pushiness is tolerated – even applauded.

Dealing with Narcissism
Narcissism is an under-researched area in the field of personality disorders. Adults with tendencies towards narcissism are unlikely to seek treatment because they believe they are wonderful and it’s everyone else who is at fault rather than themselves. Only if someone significant leaves them might they realise they have a problem. While some report that narcissism may improve with age, more suggest the opposite, so hoping things will get better isn’t a very realistic strategy.
If you find yourself in a relationship with an extreme narcissist, experts believe there is little or no possibility of a happy, long-term relationship and the best advice is probably to cut and run before you become seriously involved. But if you are with a narcissist
displaying only some of the traits, there may be hope. Broadly, it is felt to be unhelpful to challenge the behaviour as this risks the unleashing of narcissistic rage. Also, withdrawing emotionally is detrimental to the relationship. One strategy with a high success rate is to try to explain in detail exactly how you feel when exposed to particular behaviours. If your partner can’t understand your pain, perhaps he or she never will, and then at least you will know where you stand. Understanding the condition gives power and becoming familiar with the wealth of available literature is strongly recommended.

Linda MacDonald - November 2017  

Linda MacDonald is the author of four novels: Meeting Lydia and the stand-alone sequels, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternative and The Man in the Needlecord Jacket. All Linda's books are contemporary adult fiction, multi-themed, but with a focus on relationship issues. 

After studying psychology at Goldsmiths', Linda trained as a secondary science and biology teacher. She taught these subjects for several years before moving to a sixth-form college to teach psychology. The first two novels took ten years in writing and publishing, using snatched moments in the evenings, weekends and holidays. In 2012, she gave up teaching to focus fully on writing. 

Linda was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria and now lives in Beckenham in Kent.

Follow her on Twitter @LindaMac1

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