It’s Narcissist Friday!
Politics and narcissists seem to go together. In fact, any job or lifestyle where someone has followers attracts the narcissist. But how in the world do such cruel and insincere people get followers?
How do abusive pastors get faithful servants? How do famous and self-focused performers surround themselves with people? How do ambitious and money-grubbing politicians always have supporters? How does the cruel boss always have toadies who will do his will?
Well, of course, some people are brought into the narcissist’s circle in the same way most of us were drawn in. Narcissists typically have a certain charisma and charm. They say the right things and act in the right way. They appear to listen, care, and help. Narcissists are experts at beginning relationships.
But why do people stay with them? We know that narcissists use and misuse people. We know that narcissists are not really interested in others except for what they can get from them. We know that narcissists can be dismissive and even anti-social. So why do they have followers?
Some stay with the narcissist, because the narcissist is good at making promises. You know that the narcissist often promises just the right thing in just the right way. There will be reasons why the promise can’t happen quickly but assurances that the promise is coming. By making enough promises to enough people, or just by insinuating cooperation and support, the narcissist gathers people around who wait for fulfillment. As they wait, they serve. They don’t want any negative to come to the narcissist because that might jeopardize the promise. So they follow, serve, even seem to worship the narcissist.
Others live in fear of the narcissist. I have known people who don’t dare disagree or walk away from the narcissist because they are afraid of the consequences. Narcissists can be very intimidating. They can also be ruthless. Oppose them at your own risk. They won’t care how much they hurt you, how overboard their revenge is. Many have experienced the rage of the narcissist. Imagine if he/she was your boss, pastor, representative. Narcissists love to be in positions where they have power. If one has power over you, you know the intimidation.
Along the line of waiting for the promise, some have invested in the narcissist. Maybe they compromised themselves in some way to get favor with the narcissist. Maybe they actually gave money to the narcissist or his/her business. Those who have invested in these ways also wait for their return. They might not see it as a promise as much as tagging along until the narcissist gets into a position where the investment pays off. A close relationship with a politician can become lucrative. A strong connection with a famous person or a powerful person has real possibilities. Successful narcissists are usually willing to spread money and influence in order to keep others submissive.
Some people like the excitement. They follow the narcissist much like some follow the ambulance. There is almost always some kind of drama around the narcissist, particularly those who have grabbed the spotlight. Some have tricked the narcissist into thinking they are supportive, while they are really just observing and absorbing the energy. There may be little commitment, but these folks can stay with the narcissist a long time, perhaps even after others have left. They like the drama.
It also seems to be a fact that narcissists are drawn to other narcissists. It is not unusual for narcissists to be married to each other. There are many narcissists who have risen to power positions while serving other narcissists. If you think about it, a successful narcissist is a role model, an ideal, for other narcissists. A person who is willing to use and abuse others to get what he wants will often accept that same behavior from an idol. Perhaps that cruel behavior is validated somehow when the great person does it. Perhaps it is just the price one pays to be close to the action.
Some narcissists don’t have followers, I suppose. Some rule only over their family or their small circle of co-workers and friends. Some don’t care about the affection of others, the loyalty or commitment, as long as they get the service. So, having “faithful” followers is not a test of a narcissist.
When you look at a public narcissist, don’t be fooled into thinking that they are less narcissistic because they have followers. There is no wisdom in crowds. It is, in fact, relatively easy to fool many of the people much of the time. Deceit, manipulation, braggadocio—these things work in our broken world, and narcissists are usually very good at them.