I am fascinated by aberrant human behavior. I believe that abnormal, dysfunctional, strange and even curious behavior tells the truth about us as human beings. We have this terrible habit of whitewashing our negative traits, as individuals and as a collective, that it is almost necessary for us to be continuously reminded of our imperfections and what we could become if we are not careful.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a psychological disposition characterized by extreme self love. Now we are all narcissists to a degree. It is actually healthy to be concerned with ourselves and our well being because this is what inspires us to do things that ensure our survival. However in mentally stable people, this natural narcissism is balanced out by concern over the welfare of others. A person diagnosed with NPD, on the other hand, value their self above all others including those they claim to love. If they show concern for another person, it is only a ploy to try to fool the observer into thinking that they are “good people’.
A couple of months ago, I came across a blog called What Makes Narcissists Tick by Kathy Krajco. With this blog, she explores the nuances of the extreme and socially detrimental side of this disorder which she labels as malignant narcissism. The main point she makes about the malignant narcissist is that, for them, it is all about appearances. They are only concerned with how people perceive them and they, the malignant narcissist, will go to any length to ensure that outsiders view them the way that they want to be seen. They do it by abusing and degrading others in order to appear superior in comparison and instead of making an effort to rise to a level of excellence, the malignant narcissist will grab the ankles of people at that level and drag them down far enough so that they can stand on their head and appear as though they are among their peers.
In fact Kathy provides the perfect description for how they behave:
The narcissist tries to impose her delusion on you by shoving it into your face and forcing you (through fear of her temper) to act as though it’s true. For example, the narcissist portrays the sky as purple. If you won’t play along, if you disrupt her imaginary world by trying to answer that the sky is blue, the narcissist throws a fit.
Narcissists are at their most blatantly childish at such moments: they actually cover their ears, shut their eyes tight, and stamp their foot – just like a tempestuous four-year-old brat – to silence you.
Why? Because you must not contradict her delusion. You must support her delusions by accepting her false statements of fact and acting as though they are true. In other words, you must follow the narcissist’s script.
The chief delusion the narcissists tries to foist on you is that she is a good person and has never done the sickening things she’s done to you and others.
MNs are manipulative and deceitful. If you appear to be in a position of power to help them, they will kiss your ass like it’s fillet mignon. However as soon as their use for you has ended or you refuse to play into their game, they will discard you like rotten fish. If you try to call them on their bullshit, they will attack you both directly and indirectly until you either give up or they have buried you under ten feet of defamation.
I have witnessed this behavior first hand and I am always amazed when people chase after the narcissist, trampling over their latest victim in the process, and console the narcissist when they claim they have been wronged. Kathy explains this as bystanders being, with extreme paraphrasing, walking zombies who don’t use their heads to think, don’t take the time to listen to both sides or don’t make an effort to logically evaluate the situation. Instead they choose to act like sheep and follow the “leader” unknowing or uncaring that they are being guided right over a cliff.
Now Kathy recommends that we punish the bystanders who enable the malignant narcissist to behave badly by overlooking their transgressions and making excuses for them. At first I didn’t agree with this because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. As pointed out earlier, narcissists are masters of deception. They are like the Venus Fly Trap, skilled at blending in with their surroundings. People who buzz around malignant narcissists often don’t know they are in trouble until the trap snaps shut.
Then there is another aspect that Kathy’s post doesn’t really touch upon and that is peer pressure. Peer pressure is a tool we humans use to keep each other in line. As advanced as we like to think we are, we don’t like change or things that are different. So we use the threat of public censure to force conformity. Malignant narcissists will use this in the form of, what Katie describes as, emotional blackmail in order to get their way.
At first I didn’t think it was fair to punish those who may not have known what they were getting into and/or are possibly victims themselves of the malignant narcissist insanity. But then I realized that malignant narcissists behave the way they do all the time and because of this they often leave a trail of victims in the wake of their tyranny.
The invention and growth of the internet leaves no excuse for ignorance. The malignant narcissist’s constant need for attention is their Achilles heel and oftentimes a simple search engine query will cause their skeletons to poke their heads out of the closet. Now a certain amount of criticism is to be expected. After all, there is always going to be someone out there who does not like you for whatever reason. However, a red flag should go up if site after a site after site comes up detailing unpleasant run-ins with the same individual.
So in the end, I agree with Kathy. People who stand by the narcissist and enable them to be the way they are should be taken to task. I’m not saying that we should mob these enablers with pitchforks and torches. On the other hand, I’ve decided that I’m not going to waste my breath trying to warn them against associating with a malignant narcissist. In my opinion what they will suffer at the hands of an MN will surpass anything that I could think to do to them (and still bear to live with myself).
I highly recommend Kathy Krajco’s blog because it is stuff you need to know in order to protect yourself from these predators and in the words of the immortal G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle.