The Malevolence of Narcissism – when it’s all about me
Of course this lifetime is all about you – but the darker side to this can be more powerful than we realise.
Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Currently it is used to describe a person characterized by egotism, vanity, pride, or selfishness. (Wikipedia)
Narcissism is a term being more popularly used now, especially when describing power-seeking individuals who care little for the destruction they cause to others, or to the environment for their cause.
I believe we’re all touched by narcissistic tendencies here and there during our lifespan, but most of us don’t get stuck in it for any length of time. Thankfully!
Narcissistic people are rarely team players, preferring to excel in solo fashion – that’s if they ever get past blaming others for everything that’s wrong in their lives. Their focus is purely about their own gain in almost every situation; having their needs met is of prime importance.
Theodore Millon (an American psychologist known for his work on personality disorders) describes and theorises on five different types of narcissism but there are many others, mostly sharing similar attributes (Wiki);
Campbell and Foster (2007) review the literature on narcissism. They argue that narcissists possess the following “basic ingredients”:
- Positive: Narcissists think they are better than others.
- Inflated: Narcissists’ views tend to be contrary to reality. In measures that compare self-report to objective measures, narcissists’ self-views tend to be greatly exaggerated.
- Agentic: Narcissists’ views tend to be most exaggerated in the agentic domain, relative to the communion domain.[clarification needed]
- Special: Narcissists perceive themselves to be unique and special people.
- Selfish: Research upon narcissists’ behaviour in resource dilemmas supports the case for narcissists as being selfish.
- Oriented toward success: Narcissists are oriented towards success by being, for example, approach oriented.
Narcissists will lie, cheat and beguile you with stories of trauma and drama; some whose lives may be filled with negativity and pity-parties, others who are high-end achievers. These people will gladly strip you of any self-worth you ever possessed, not pausing for breath, as they march you into elaborate scams and self-made systems to maintain their over-inflated ego.
Narcissists (or more commonly known as narcs, these days) usually live in self-centred-ness, not having an altruistic bone in their body – unless it suits a purpose. They may be incapable of much more than short bursts of affection towards those in their circles, before, during or after they turn their aggression inwards.
Steve Becker (LCSW CHT) opens his article on “Differentiating Narcissists and Psychopaths“ thus;
“We can begin by noting something that both narcissists and psychopaths share: a tendency to regard others as objects more than persons. Immediately this raises concerns: you don’t have to empathize with objects; objects don’t have feelings worth recognizing. You can toy with objects; manipulate and exploit them for your own gratification, with a paucity of guilt.
Welcome to the world of the narcissist and psychopath. Theirs is a mindset of immediate, demanded gratification, with a view of others as expected — indeed existing —to serve their agendas. Frustrate their agendas, and you can expect repercussions, ranging from the disruptive to ruinous.”
Similar to psychopathic behaviour, narcs rarely seem to care about the feelings of others, or how their actions can affect those around them; their extremely selfish needs always come first, above everything else. Researchers say that narcissists will not do anything that has no personal gain. They completely lack empathy so have no care or compassion for others – only a driving desire to satisfy themselves – with no remorse for any damage caused.
Narcissists, like psychopaths can outwardly appear quite charming; but never forget they will stop at nothing, to have power of you and everyone else around.
Now, this is where it can get tricky
In personal development and in many spiritual teachings we hear or get the message that we must first care for and preserve the self – but this does not mean to the detriment of others. It’s more likely about preserving the self from unnecessary harm or injury – whether that be to body, mind or soul (spirit). By becoming mindful of our thoughts, words and actions – even being aware of where and with whom we situate ourselves – are acts to care for and look after our person.
I promote fully achieving our potential and totally accepting our own Personal Power – not ruthlessly abusing others for gain.
We take responsibility for what happens in our lives; we have Healthy narcissism.
“Healthy narcissism is a structural truthfulness of the self, achievement of self and object constancy, synchronization between the self and the superego and a balance between libidinal and aggressive drives (the ability to receive gratification from others and the drive for impulse expression). Healthy narcissism forms a constant, realistic self-interest and mature goals and principles and an ability to form deep object relations. A feature related to healthy narcissism is the feeling of greatness. This is the antithesis of insecurity or inadequacy.”
As sentient beings we have the power of choice at our disposal; we can choose to be anywhere at any time – or not. That is our privilege and in most cases (with the exception of incarceration) we can exorcise that privilege to keep our ‘self’ safe from harm. The options are clear; self construct or self destruct. We can build ourselves up – or knock ourselves down.
Once again we are in search of balance; a never-ending, life-long juggling feat, to keep our heads above the waterline.
Spiritual First Aid – Finding Balance is now available on Amazon for Kindle, laptop or pc (free app on site)