It’s Narcissist Friday!
A couple of days ago LifeHacker (one of my favorite websites!) shared an article about evil dictators and how they get their way. It didn’t take much reading before I made a connection to narcissism.
Now, understand that this list comes from observation. In other words, there isn’t a book on how evil dictators should manipulate people. The writers simply gathered common characteristics and practices from the dictators for whom they had information. This is what they saw:
Evil dictators take advantage of their people when they are weakened. After a war or an economic collapse, dictators rise to power partly because of the vacuum of resistance. In order to remain in power, they must allow the weakness to continue or create new ways to weaken their people. The authors tell how Fidel Castro would get people out of bed at 4 AM for a meeting so that he would have the advantage. Whatever it takes to keep the will of the people subdued.
The parallel to the narcissist’s tactics seems obvious here. When do you have “discussions”? Chances are it is when you have little opportunity or energy to respond. What emotional state were you in when you met? Chances are you were beat up from a previous relationship or you were in a new situation where you felt vulnerable. The narcissist knew this and used it. In fact, you never really got a chance to be healthy.
Evil dictators plan ahead. They set out five-year plans and picture for themselves and their people what things will look like.
One of the common characteristics of narcissists is that they are full of what they are “going to do.” You look at the narcissist and see a lack of ability or reality, but then he surprises you by telling you that he got the promotion he was hoping for. He works behind the scenes with careful and ruthless manipulations to get what he wants.
Evil dictators remove all threats to their power. We marvel at the ability of the dictator to rid his kingdom of former rulers and their families. If they don’t leave in fear, they are exiled under threat or they simply disappear. But it isn’t only former rulers who are treated this way. Watch what happens to the dictator’s own family members or friends who helped him get to power. If they constitute any threat, they are gone.
Victims of narcissists often regret the loss of support from family and friends. Parents, siblings, childhood friends—anyone who might give strength to the victim or opposition to the narcissist is cut off. This is one of the most cruel parts of a narcissistic relationship.
Evil dictators create and maintain a “cult of personality.” When they appear in public, it is exactly the way they want to appear, no matter how bizarre it might seem. If their people believe fantastic things about them, they will play the game to make those things seem true. They will give themselves ostentatious titles and manage every presentation of themselves.
If there is anyone who creates and believes his own hype it is the narcissist. The most important thing in life to him is how others see him. What happens when he sees a photo that doesn’t make him look good? Some narcissists will ask to hold the photo and then tear it up, no matter who else is in the picture. They will not look foolish or weak. They must not.
These are just some of the things evil dictators do. It is an interesting parallel to narcissism, don’t you think? In fact, it begs a question: Which came first, the evil dictator or the narcissist? Chances are these evil dictators were narcissists from the beginning. The authors of the article aren’t really observing a narrow behavior pattern of evil dictators. They are observing narcissism at work. This is all very familiar to most of us.
Check out the rest of the article here.