Alright, alright. Some of you were a bit frightened by the post on extreme narcissism; wondering whether or not that describes you. If you were wondering it probably doesn’t. An extreme narcissist wouldn’t care. But that wasn’t my intent in the least.
There is nothing wrong with a little healthy narcissism. By that, I mean, self-esteem. If you feel confident in your abilities, if you think you can make a difference in this world, and if sometimes you realize you must put yourself first and don’t feel guilty about doing it this is healthy narcissism. I envy you!
It is difficult to be in a relationship with an extreme narcissist and maintain any level of self-esteem. So if you are the kind of person who is always self-seeking to the detriment of others, if you make those around you afraid of your reaction to constructive criticism, if you demand undying and unwavering attention and adoration, well, you might have a problem.
Extreme narcissism has an element of psychopathy wrapped up in it. As one psychologist put it:
In my career as a psychologist, two areas of particular interest to me have been psychopathy and narcissism. Psychopathy is generally viewed as a particularly virulent form of narcissism, in which the person is not only very much focused on herself, or himself, but also highly manipulative, sometimes sadistic, and very much into control and power. One prominent characteristic of psychopathy is the presence of what is usually called a “glib, superficial charm.” These people are usually able, at least in the short term, to win over others very easily. They would generally be described as “very attractive” people (on the surface). Sometimes a person who merits the designation “psychopath” goes into a path of criminal activity (many, but not all, serial killers are psychopaths, and criminals known as “con artists” are often psychopaths); other times, the psychopath will be engaged in a legitimate career (politics, academia, corporate leadership). The key is not the type of activity the person engages in, but the degree of control s/he exercises over others.
Underneath the superficial charm, the narcissist/psychopath always has a “me-first” mentality. If you work with such a person, you may begin to see signs that s/he thinks that everything is about her; and, crucially, it will become clear that control/power is a major part of her game plan. However, this can be well concealed beneath a veneer of friendliness and concern for others; it may not become clearly evident until s/he receives what is known as a “narcissistic injury.” A person who is truly narcissistic will respond with extreme anger if s/he receives a challenge to her ego (an ego that is both fragile, and strongly defended). This response may look like an overblown rage fit, following a minor slight; or it may take the form of a cold vindictiveness, administered by acts of retaliation. These responses can be very shocking, even frightening, to the person who unwittingly triggered or evoked the narcissistic injury (by getting in the way of the narcissist’s plans, for example, or by displaying a lack of full approval and appreciation for the narcissist’s brilliant ideas). ~Delaney Dean
Hopefully that explains a bit better the force and control that a true narcissist exhibits. These are the characteristics of extreme narcissism:
- need for admiration
- lack of empathy
- extreme self-absorption
- intolerance of others’ perspectives
- insensitivity to others’ needs
- indifference to the effect of their own egocentric behavior
Add to that a level of psychopathy:
- failure to conform to social norms; repeated unlawful behaviors
- deceitfulness, repeated lying, manipulation
- impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
- irritability and physical aggressiveness
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others
- consistent irresponsibility
- lack of remorse, indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt or mistreated another
You know those crime dramas that portray some mastermind deviant who brainwashes and controls a minion to do his bidding? You think to yourself, that’s sick and twisted! Who would do that and who would follow him? Right? It’s not all that far-fetched. Look at all the carnage left in wake of religious extremism.
To keep the favor of a narcissistic/psychopathic tyrant you must please them. And on nothing more than faith in them do their bidding all the while telling them how great they are and thanking them for allowing you the privilege. Never do your own thinking and for heaven’s sake never go against them for fear of retaliation.
I’d have to agree with Cognitive Dissenter who said, “I’ve decided God gets a bad rap that is fundamentally unfair, given the fact that he’s an invisible imaginary dude. The perfect scapegoat for the real narcissists who hide behind him. Time to give credit where credit is due.“ It’s high time we tore the curtain down and saw things the way they really are and the way they’ve really always been. Are there really any prophets of a God? Or are they just profiting off of those who are willing or have been frightened into being willing follow?