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.
4 responses to “Followers”
“It also seems to be a fact that narcissists are drawn to other narcissists”
Oh yes validating each other’s cruel behaviour & engaging in “tag team narcissism” usually persecuting some poor person for pleasure & mutually enjoying the chaos & distress they create.
A narcissistic pastor is especially dangerous because he/she convinces the naive, trusting, and unsuspecting flock into believing that “following” the pastor and obeying him/her is what God wants them to do. Narcissistic pastors focus on obedience Scriptures to command their followers to obey them because supposedly that is what the Bible says. But they need to balance those Scriptures with others, such as Jesus being the Good Shepherd and the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us. These pastors are like the Pharisees, whom Jesus called white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones.
Six months ago, our family left an extremely toxic church with a narcissist set up as “pastor,” a group of aloof church members set up as “elders,” and an inner circle made up of his personal fans that either owed him for something or he owed them. My husband was on staff at the church, but found he could no longer take a paycheck from an organization that operated in such duality. People were one way on Sunday, but totally deplorable during the week. When confronted about his behavior, the narcissistic leader used every manipulation tatic in the book including the classic “you haven’t confronted me properly according to Matthew 18 scripture” with his inner circle crew all nodding robotically in agreement with every wild ad hominem defense he could muster. They defended the pastor by attacking my husband’s character, even implying to the congregation that we left the church for “marriage issues” we don’t have. My husband’s counselor said in all his years of counseling it is the worst case of spiritual abuse he’s ever seen. We both sought counseling after the pastor’s “grand finale” and smear campaign resulted in severe anxiety and depression. The narcissist is still leading this church without consequences as far as we know. We are struggling with the injustice of it all.
It is said that as believers in Jesus, we are all fighting the same enemy.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
If this is so, and yet some people who have NPD have claimed salvation, or are pastors, worship leaders, teachers, etc, but manifest an inability to recognize and repent of their NPD, does this conclude that these individuals are in fact demon possessed? No, not demonized but actually possessed? Because they do not change and the only way to deal with them is to go no contact.