It’s Narcissist Friday!
Time for some review. It is easy for me to forget that new readers may not have read all the posts of this blog and perhaps a little more than presumptuous to think that anyone would try. So occasionally I need to restate some of my perspective on the subject of narcissism. This is especially true when posts from this blog are reposted to other sites and when dealing with a topic that generates such cultural excitement.
So my recent post on narcissistic friendships was challenged by someone who, in effect, said that narcissists don’t have friends because they love themselves too much. No one would be attracted to them because of their self-focus.
This idea that narcissists love themselves is something we need to challenge. We understand that it certainly looks like they love themselves. They boast about their accomplishments, treat others as inferior, and assume that everyone should listen to and respect them. They expect others to praise them, serve them, and defer to them. Their lack of empathy and tendency to judge others negatively makes it looks like they love themselves only and greatly.
Consider this: true self-love should be manifested in confidence, rest, and security. A person who is completely in love with who he is, content and assured in himself, should not be concerned about the ideas or achievements of others. If someone disagrees with him, he should simply shrug it off. If someone takes credit for something, he should be undamaged. If someone else succeeds, he would have no reason to be jealous or defensive. The person who truly loves himself should be at peace with himself and with the world around him.
So how well does that describe your narcissist? I’m sure that there are some who appear to pull this off, but most of the narcissists I have met have been very quick to get angry and easily offended. They seem to hate the accomplishments of others and are quick to criticize and condemn. Those who disagree with the narcissist are often ruthlessly attacked and even humiliated. Narcissists are usually very competitive, especially for attention and praise. They are envious, arrogant, and abusive.
Does that sound like someone secure in love for him or her self?
A few years ago I posted an overview of the clinical and practical definitions of a narcissist, one from the DSM-IV and the other from Dr. Nina Brown. Here’s the link to that post: What is a Narcissist? Look it over and see if this describes a person in love with himself.
The literature of narcissism is widely agreed that the narcissist is insecure in himself and, based on that insecurity, has produced and promoted an image of superiority in order to distract others from the inferior and vulnerable self. The narcissist sees himself as unacceptable and weak, but attempts to cover that by hiding behind this grandiose image. Thus, he becomes adept at making friends, manipulating people, and gathering support. The image is attractive, charming, confident, strong, and exceptional. But that’s not the way the narcissist thinks of himself. He worships the image more than anyone else. He depends on the image, is addicted to the image, needs the image. And he needs you to worship the image with him.
Those who counsel narcissists find them to be evasive and dishonest. They usually leave counseling when the counselor gets close to the truth. Those who work with or live with narcissists should understand that they want you to think that they love themselves and believe that you should love them too. Otherwise, you might discover the truth.