So, here’s why I think a group cannot be narcissistic: a group doesn’t really exist! Although there is a certain group dynamic that can be distinguished from its members, the group is still just the members coming together. In fact, an argument could be made that a group is simply the personification of the leadership. Can I say it? – Narcissistic leaders create narcissistic groups.
We have all seen it. A group, whether it is a church or a support group or whatever, is loving and gracious and supportive. You join it and you are blessed. But, after a while, the flavor begins to change. You begin to realize that the group doesn’t really care. How often is this because the leadership has changed?
Groups like the one I observed recently have been so good and so helpful to their members. I know it doesn’t have to be like it is in this one. The most obvious difference is the leadership. Narcissists love groups where they can lead and be in front of others and manipulate honor and recognition for themselves. But the ugly side comes through in how the group begins to treat its members. Serve and honor the leader and you will rise in popularity and others will be impressed with you. Challenge the leader or threaten him/her in some way and you will soon find yourself without support. Sound familiar?
Now, I want to be honest here. Group energy naturally gravitates toward those who are active and willing to serve. But watch to see if there are those who serve a great deal without much recognition. Are there others who seem to do almost nothing but are in the limelight most of the time? Is it easy for someone to be cut off by the leadership, or for some to just slip away unnoticed? Does the leadership suddenly turn against those who stop supporting the “party line” even though they have in the past? When the leader includes himself in the praise for a job well done, did he actually do anything or is he stealing the praise intended for others? Does he use the word “I” and seem to forget that others worked just as hard as he did? When members leave the group, how many of them are angry or hurt?
It may be that groups cannot be narcissistic, but certain group leaders can be. Most of the time that’s what we are seeing in groups that exhibit this behavior.