Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Am In Love With Me (or why narcissists always rise to positions of power?)

In this world of new age philosophies, gobbledegook optimism, politically correct challenges, the glass is half full euphemisms and there-are-no-problems syndrome, Narcissism rules supreme.

What used to be viewed as a non-curable character flaw is now viewed as something to strive for or to live by. The media live by it, marketing strives on it and the corporate spaces abound with it. The megalomaniac philanthropist, Mr. Bill Gates, called it ‘tough love.’

During the sixties, the ‘I’ philosophy raised its ugly head in the shape of a smiley face. All the sudden it was not on to think of family or society as a comforting safe space. The ‘I’ was elevated beyond all hereto known values. Suddenly it was cool to claim; I am worth it, it is my life, what is in it for me, I am numero uno, greed is king, et al.

It is understood that human beings are social creatures that require frequent validation of their self worth. Social interactions usually take care of this need through normal everyday dialogue, debate, interchange of ideas, creative processes and the like.

Unfortunately, these so called normal processes, do not suffice in a narcissist world. The need to be superior is the primary force; a force that involves the covering up of feelings (a sign of weakness) while fostering feelings of self-importance and self-appeasement (a sign of grandiosity.) In other words, I am, I can…when I was …, I, I, I.

The plus side of narcissism is that it is an energetic, motivated, assertive and competitive condition. All who suffer from narcissism are individuals (a very important asset) who value creativity, who strive to always improve on themselves and who constantly view mistakes as non-entities. They also value intellectual performance above all else.

No that bad, one would think. The down side is that a narcissist will internalise failure to the extent of hostility towards others who are perceived to be their betters and thus will externalise blame on all negative events.

In other words, a narcissist will rationalise or rewrite history in their favour: “ They freely transform failures into successes, and construct lengthy and intricate rationalisations that inflate their self-worth or justify what they believe is their right.” Dr Theodore Milton. Dr. Roger Davis further pointed out that narcissists, “remember the past as they would have wanted it to occur, not as it actually happened.”

When confronted, narcissist will overtly express themselves in a self-justificating rage, character assassination and projection or deflection e.g. you are just envious.

They also exhibit traits such as; self-focus in interpersonal exchanges, difficulty with empathy, hypersensitivity to any perceived insults, a vulnerability to shame rather than guilt, subtle but persistent bragging, expert claims to most things, denials of remorse and gratitude, etc, etc.

All in all, not a nice condition at all.

Yet, this is what is being projected and inferred as to what one must aspire to.

The sixties ‘smiley face’ was an icon to the art of positive thought given the wars that were being fought at the time, and the impact they were having on society at large. Narcissism was never the intended outcome.

But as usual, the human condition will rise to the occasion and turn all good intentions to hell.

Food for Thought: The strange thing about narcissism is that it needs enablers to feed its need for attention and feeling of superiority. One craves power the other, security.

For me, give me a juicy portion of t-bone and chips, crème brûlée, and all is well with me.


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