June 4, 2004

What is wrong with Narcissists?

"When people are driving themselves crazy, they have neuroses or psychosis. When they drive other people crazy, they have personality disorders. but Though there is plenty of narcissim without greatness, there is no greatness without narcissism." Albert Bernstein

From Narcissism 101

Now you may ask yourself what is wrong with being a Narcissist?

In fact most of them are fascinating, amusing, successful and a few are even famous. (And sometimes they are pure fakes and liars, so be careful.) They are fun to be around at parties, they dominate the conversation and will tell amusing stories, give their opinion on everything in the world as if it is the only one, until you get to know them. Then you are at risk of becoming one of their victims. They need you, they need what you can give them. Attention! They are spoiled children. They need some one to admire their image. If you become involved with one, because you are related to them, or you are a friend, or a business partner, or lover, you will suffer. And you will not know why.

Because they are actors playing a part, they can not tell the difference between the truth and a falsehood. They lie to themselves first of all; they modify their inner reality to fit their idea, their vision of themselves and then they will transform outer reality with their lies. They will take the past and re-arrange it to make themselves look good. They will never admit fault, they will never say they are sorry. If something goes wrong, they will play the victim. They will blame others.

They can not love, for they do not love themselves, they only love their image, an idealized person who does not exist. They cannot face themselves. If you ever see one fail, make a mistake, watch their faces; you will see a look of terror on it. Because you have seen behind the curtain, you have seen the real person who feels inferior and inadequate. They always have to be in control. They can not love normally. For them love is a loss of control, which they can ill afford. They can fake it, they can simulate it and even declare it effusively, but they can never make the sacrifices that true love demands. Love demands, even needs, truth to exist. A commodity in short supply in a narcissist who is looking for ideal, the perfect love or lover.

They do not think normally. They have a disorder that makes them process reality differently. Do not be fooled, they can function and pass for normal. That is what is so frightening, they are incredible mimics of human beings. Of human feelings. It is not even hypocrisy, for to them, they do not see any difference in their actions; as long as it works.

Many mental disorders have a chemical cause; such as a seratonin malfunction. In Narcissist, no chemical cause has been found. Yet. It seems to be a cognitive malady. I would even say a cultural one. For women, narcissistic display is almost natural if not encouraged. For men, certain societies demand that men put up a macho image. From that kind of behavior to a full blown NPD is not that far.

In the end, they want to own you. You must be their storm troopers, their faithful worshipers who never criticize them, never disagree with them. Never look behind their mask, you may see the wizard of Oz behind the curtain. If they do evil, you must approve, if they hate, you must hate as well. You cease to exist as you. You become just a projection of their image. You become a clone, a mindless puppet, with no idea of what they are thinking because you are under their charm.

You give up your self, your soul, to them. It is not violent. It can be so gentile, so subtile, so unseen. They can use the legitimacy of established institutions to achieve their goal; the office of the church, of parental authority, of a political party or of a garden club. They love having authority, it makes the job of co-opting you so much easier. You have to obey authority, you are brought up to follow, to love, your parents without question. The father or mother figure is used in their quest for hegemony. Or they may use sex, love, beauty, intelligence as a tool. Whatever it takes to get you in their grasp. Mesmerized.

In the larger sense, we are programed to follow such people. They use the voice of authority. Or social pressure, and eventually physical force if necessary to get their way - think nasty spoiled child. We are constantly bombarded by images in advertising and politics that sell us people, products, political messages. It is the packaging, the medium is the message; images are powerful, not the content. Historically, narcissists have tried and even succeeded in having millions of people follow them, like lemmings, to death and destruction.