It’s Narcissist Friday!
(I am aware that this blog continually attracts new readers. With somewhere around two hundred posts on narcissism and narcissistic relationships, it can be challenging for anyone to really use this material. The search function works very well, if you know what to ask for. Otherwise, we will all have to wait as the blog posts are sorted and categorized in preparation for a new (and exciting!) website. So for the next few weeks, I want to dig back into the archives to pull out some of the posts that seemed most helpful over the last few years. Please feel free to comment.)
One of the most puzzling aspects of narcissism for those who have to deal with narcissists is the strong negative feelings that seem to come almost out of nowhere. Here’s a sample scenario:
At an office party with his wife…
Narcissist – Hi, Bob! Good to see you! How are things going after the accident?
Bob – Great! I should be back at work soon.
N – Good, because we have sure missed having you around. It doesn’t run the same without you there.
Bob – Thanks for saying that. I really appreciate it. (Bob walks away feeling good.)
After Bob leaves, N turns to his wife – I wish that guy would have been killed in that accident. What a pain he is! I could handle the office just fine without him around.
So, how can N just turn from seeming to be sincere in his kind words to Bob to such strong negative words to his wife? Sometimes N does the same thing to his wife. He praises her for something and then says something incredibly hurtful and cruel. How does he switch so easily?
Part of the answer lies in how N sees people. We have said before that, to the narcissist, people are either the means to an end (tools or toys) or obstacles in the way. People are to be used. If they are not useful, they are not important. Those who appear to be friends or family or even lovers are still in the process of being used. When they become less useful, they can be discarded. If they are difficult to discard, they are seen as obstacles.
Extremely narcissistic people sometimes kill the obstacles in their lives, often with no more remorse than any of the rest of us would have from changing to a new grocery or throwing out a dying plant. You have seen this on the news. Narcissists have killed used lovers, unwanted children, even competitors.
Hatred, in its most basic sense, is being able to depersonalize others. Whether through prejudice and bigotry or through an over-emphasized view of competition, the other person is seen as something other than a real person who has a right to live and be happy. If the other is not a person, then there does not need to be any regard for feelings or rights or even life.
Perhaps the reason we think the narcissist loves himself so much is simply because of his surprising hatred for anyone else. It is very difficult for the rest of us to think in his terms. We may have people we don’t like and we may act in our own interests to the neglect of others, but for almost all of us there is an understanding that others are real and have value.