It’s Narcissist Friday!
It struck me a few years ago that the reason so many areas of the world do not change when opportunity is given is because the people have adapted to life without power. A friend who is back in Afghanistan with the military is convinced that any change that has happened there is doomed to being short-lived because the people haven’t changed. They simply adapt to whatever group or person is in power at the time. They expect to be used, even abused; and it has been this way for generations. So the US comes in to “liberate” them, but they have nowhere to go in their own hearts.
Perhaps more than others, narcissists understand the value of power. If you have no power, others can hurt you. The power of others over them is, in many cases, the factor that moved them to protect themselves by narcissistic behavior. And narcissistic behavior is all about power.
Think of the things that make a person feel powerful. Knowing a secret, holding a higher position, greater physical strength, greater influence, a higher intelligence, etc. These are all things toward which narcissists strive. For the narcissist, it isn’t about being strong, but about being stronger. It isn’t about looking good, it is about looking better. The power position is the one the narcissist wants.
This is why the narcissist chafes under authority—and exactly why authority is so important in the life of a narcissist. It is why the narcissist hates your boundaries—and why your boundaries are so important. It is why the narcissist fears truly coming into relationship with God—and why coming into relationship with God is the key to health for the narcissist.
So this explains some things and offers some ideas. First, children of narcissists often find themselves going from one narcissistic relationship to another in their adult lives. They have never learned that life can have power. They simply adapt to whatever new oppressor comes along. This is why learning boundaries is so vital.
Second, narcissists can be controlled. They fear power. They may hate it, but they will yield to it. The husband who speaks disparagingly about the police when he speeds down the road will be amazingly docile when the patrolman is standing at his car door. The serial killer, when finally caught, gives up peacefully and becomes a model prisoner. Many victims of narcissists have noted how their narcissist completely reverses his attitude and behavior at certain times. Often this is because he recognizes a greater power.
Third, as long as the narcissist has power over someone, he is getting his supply. He needs to be superior. When he feels powerless, he becomes afraid and vulnerable. He may recede into depression as a way of hiding.
The Christian in a narcissistic relationship should pray for brokenness. We have talked about that before. The narcissist may need to come to the end of his resources in order to begin to understand that there is Someone who loves him. Be prepared to go for a ride, because the ability of the narcissist to deny and manipulate is amazing. (But you knew that.)
One more thing: the narcissist is already a small, fearful, broken person hiding behind a monster he uses to keep people away and control them. He has created this “alter-ego,” and it may be the only thing you know about him. It is this “Mr. Hyde” that needs to be broken. And when the screen falls, the great “Wizard of Oz” is shown to be an ordinary little man.
You may not be able to knock the screen down to reveal the truth. You might be too weak or too compromised. But God can do it. Pray for that. There is a Higher Power.