Mental Health professionals used to harbor the notion that narcissists were insecure and frail deep down. Their trumped up attitude was viewed as off putting and the job was to help them tone it down so others would like them more. And life would be easier for them. Strangely, narcissists were frequently people who at first glance, did not convey the compelling qualities that might explain extreme self-love.
Things have changed. Current thought challenges the notion that narcissists secretly suffer from low self-esteem or insecurity. Or that they suffer as much as we thought in the ways that we thought. Recent findings indicate they take pleasure in successful manipulations. Putting down unsuspecting, soft-hearted souls in their midst is a sport. They truly believe in their superiority even if objective evidence does not back it up. One psychiatry professor of mine did say, “They make everyone around them feel badly but they don’t feel badly themselves.”
I was quite moved by a blog I read
in which the author beautifully captures what it is like to be the target of a severe narcissist. Shame, fear, jitters, lack of trust and ever-present guardedness sweep through the abused person and trammel his or her identity and world view. The transformation of a hopeful, can-do enthusiast into a dismal, wary withdrawer is a form of soul murder.
But to those thus violated, take heart. Understanding the complexities of what/who you were dealing with might make you feel better. Just “naming” brings relief, as it is a form of containment. Besides, in this particular situation, tables do turn. If you have faith that justice will be served, somehow, you might find the motivation to rise up and get yourself back.
Let’s contemplate the nuances of narcissism in a person with narcissistic traits or the full-blown personality disorder. The diagnosis includes entitlement, grandiosity, arrogance, envy, easy exploitation of others, a sense of specialness or superiority and fantasies of unlimited success. Continue reading