Monday, November 26, 2007

They Really Are Everywhere

The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
John Milton

Once you begin to recognize narcissism, you see N’s everywhere. Literally. You begin to wonder if you have lost your mind. Are you seeing things?
Nope. You are correctly spotting N’s everywhere for they actually are everywhere.
Think about it. In the U.S., there are no rewards for non-narcissists and plenty of rewards for the Ns. Our society, particularly American industry, rewards narcissistic behavior. All one has to do is read the newspaper to recognize that N’s are particularly prevalent among the Captains of Industry in the U.S. For example, according to the press, the Enron guys had “a grandiose sense of self-importance”, fantasies of unlimited power and success (as well as apparently the fantasy that they would never get caught), a sense of entitlement, were “interpersonally exploitative” in that they took advantage of others for their own gain, lacked empathy in that they were unable to identify with those that they took from and were arrogant and haughty.
They were N’s.
Similarly, the Tyco C.E.O. Dennis Kozlowski was certainly an N in his $6,000 shower curtains and his million dollar birthday party for his wife, featuring an ice sculpture of Michelango’s David urinating vodka, all paid for by corporate (read: shareholder) funds.
A high percentage of American C.E.O.’s are clearly narcissists.
If you have narcissistic lessons that you needed to learn, you may be able to look back at your past and see the narcissism in each of the long string of guys that you dated. This is certainly my experience. From my dad who was a 1950’s rule the roost kind of guy, to my first, demanding boyfriend, to the “player” I dated in college, to the N whom I married, I have a long and distinguished history of involvement with N’s.
So the obvious next question is “Why?”
I have asked myself this question a million times. Did I prefer the Ns’ balsy, self-confidence; their take charge attitude? Or was I simply looking for a successful man, many of whom are N’s? Or perhaps I had lessons to learn about boundaries that could only be learned from an N who recognizes no boundaries and bulldozes over you if you attempt to set boundaries.
Whatever the reason is for your unfortunate involvement with N’s, if you are still vulnerable to N’s or if you still have lessons to learn from N’s, you will find them popping up in your life until you’ve learned that particular lesson and learned it well. Once you have the lesson down pat, I suggest that you spot the Wild Narcissist early on and run hard and fast from their destructive, black hole orbit.
Caveat: some self-interest and self-importance is appropriate in the human species. Indeed, some mild level of narcissism may be a necessary prerequisite for survival, particularly in the day and age when men were chasing wooly mammoths ten times their size down with spears. One could see that a certain amount of arrogance and self importance would be useful in the hunter/gatherer time period of human development. It is only when ego moves from simple, justifiable self –confidence into overweening, non-empathetic self-importance that the word “narcissism” raises its ugly head.