It’s Narcissist Friday!
As long as I don’t hurt anyone, I can just do what I want. Right? This philosophy may well be a sign of an increasingly narcissistic culture.
One of the prevailing fallacies of our day is the idea of a victimless crime. Certainly there are actions, perhaps even prohibited actions, that don’t hurt others. But most of the acts people call “victimless” actually have victims. People who want to justify these behaviors usually just ignore or deny the existence of these victims.
Abortion, pornography, gambling, tax evasion, shoplifting—those who do these things often refer to them as victimless. They choose to either depersonalize the victims or deny that they exist. Usually the fact that the victims are far away or are hurt only minimally gives sufficient excuse.
Take lying on a resume for example. Who is hurt if I lie on my resume to get a job? I believe I can do the job, but I don’t really have the credentials or the experience. So I lie. If I get the job, who cares? I didn’t hurt anyone, did I? Well, the other applicants who did not get the job (but lost to me because I lied) might disagree. The employer who didn’t get the competence desired might disagree. The customers or clients I would serve inadequately might disagree. Just because I might choose to ignore these victims does not mean they do not exist.
Those who have been in relationships with narcissists, at whatever level, have almost certainly heard these words, “What? I didn’t hurt anyone.” Since the narcissist refuses to see any victim, he/she feels justified in the action. “No one was hurt!”
This philosophy comes so easily to the narcissist because the narcissist doesn’t see anyone as having value, or even as real for that matter. Others, as we have said here so often, are simply tools, toys, or obstacles. Other people only have value inasmuch as they are useful to the narcissist. So stealing, lying, and manipulating will always be victimless in the mind of the narcissist.
The narcissist parks in a handicapped spot. “I was only in the store for a few minutes. No handicapped person needed that spot. I didn’t hurt anyone.”
The narcissist steals from his employer. “They have so many of these things that they will never miss this. It isn’t like I hurt someone.”
The narcissist drives over the speed limit. “I was in full control all the time. No one was hurt.”
The narcissist lies about his accomplishments to a group of acquaintances. “They will never know otherwise. How could that hurt anyone?”
In fact, the narcissist can convince himself that he does these things because others want him to. They secretly enjoy watching him drive fast or hearing his inflated stories. Not only are they not victims, but he is doing something they like.
The laws that prohibit certain behaviors came out of a culture that understood the often subtle damage our actions can have on the people around us. We understood that certain acts do have victims, even when those victims are not known to us or near to us. Today that understanding is eroding.
But the narcissist lives this philosophy as a matter of identity. He/she thinks: “If it doesn’t hurt me, there is no victim.”