I have met narcissists who have been at one time or another capable of greatness. When I say greatness, I don’t mean curing diseases or instigating world peace. I am talking about simply having humanity and reaching out to others and helping them in times of great distress in an apparently selfless move. They can sometimes be so disturbingly benevolent that you wonder what on earth makes them do the horrible things they do when they don’t have to. At first meeting, narcissists are the nicest people who would ever guess that they were actually the worst? It’s the classic bait and switch.
Ockham’s Razor is a philosophical principle named after an English friar which states that given a number of alternative explanations, the simplest is usually the right one. When it comes to narcissists, I submit that they are simply evil. Satan has been known to transform himself into an angel of light, so why not his offspring. Malignant narcissists have done some breathtakingly awful things, and in this day and age that is saying something. For every human who has trafficked others, imprisoned others for their own gratification, gone on a killing spree or taken part in systematically reducing the lives of others to hellish agony for decades at a time, you will find beneath the façade of banality, a monster.
What is more banal than the human family. They are everywhere, we all have had one at some point. If you think in terms of blood relations, every human being has a father and mother, each one of them has a father and mother, and often they have siblings. A malignant narcissist is born somehow and in some way. There is no apparent set of circumstances which produces malignant narcissists. They can have good parents, bad parents, abusive parents and still they are born and grow up. Yet psychologists repeatedly tell us that narcissism is the result of being abused as a child. So how come so many victims of abuse don’t end up as narcissists. If you ask me, this is just another way to pathologise the victims of abuse. And excuse narcissism. I have heard everything from ‘everyone has some characteristics of narcissism’ – which is about as useful as saying ‘nobody’s perfect’- to telling us that narcissism is actually a good thing so don’t worry about it. Right. Next time you have a client who is having a mental breakdown because of abuse from a MN, see how helpful that explanation is.
I say again, the best explanation doesn’t require a vast psychological knowledge, just the ability to make deductions based on logic. Maybe there are just some people who are evil.
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)
The hardest type of malignant narcissist to spot in my experience is the young person, especially young women. They can be so innocent looking, so dewy eyed and so eager that its hard to imagine that they are actually plotting world domination. However, they are really only plotting the domination of everyone in their world, not the outer world around them, the real world where billions of others live. Malignant narcissists exist in a bubble, so everyone else’s worldview is not the same as theirs. Nobody suspects young malignant narcissists, especially older people. It’s only when they do or say something which is disturbingly reminiscent of the last malignant narcissist you encountered that you do a double-take. Wait a minute…what?
I have always had to make my brain work at this point. I have a natural resistance to drawing conclusions of this sort about people who seem so obviously normal. But honestly, it’s the only time you are ever going to have an opportunity to pull yourself up before you commit to believing the lie. And they are so very good at lying. They act. They convince, they market themselves all in such a subtle way that you never know you are being played. Because why play somebody over something as banal as normal interaction. You are not trying to impress an agent, or the producer of the movie you want to be in. This is life, the person they are talking to is you, nobody special. But they want to impress you, and that even in its own small way, is still flattering. So you let yourself be flattered because it feels good. But then there is the second and third conversations, often not face to face, could be phone or email conversations, but something always turns up which makes you question your previous assessment of the individual. Wait a minute….what if? Nah…..
Then they will say or do something really very obviously narcissistic, and you have had some experience with these people, you know their lingo and their mannerisms because it’s as though they were all trained by the same person in some covert black ops programme to churn out charming crazy people. So it goes from wait a minute, to ‘are you kidding me……really?’ Then you get that gut wrenching thing which tells you that you were right, and they are, and you need to just avoid them, and now they have had a conversation or two with you they think you are their best friend, and you have to let them know you aren’t. Which then alerts them to the fact that you are On To Them. Then things get really juicy, because you watch the façade drop, and the acid start to drip, and you are now in the middle of Def Con 2. It could all go up at any time. So be prepared.
If you had just never figured it out. But you know what would happen. If you hadn’t figured it out, you would be in boots and all with another narcissist. It’s both the joy and the hell of knowing all about narcissists. They know who knows who they are, and they will never forgive you for that. But how are you supposed to avoid this? You have been through one or two experiences with malignant narcissists, and have had your entrails sucked up out of your ear, so you know how terrible they can be. So you learn. It’s what humans do. But alongside learning, you also put your experience into practice. Know your enemy, avoid your enemy. Not, engage your enemy, because if you do, your life will be world war 3 all over again, only this time instead of sucker punches you will be awake, aware, and informed. The malignant narcissists worst enemy. How did you get to be that? By living through the last world war.
Narcissists can ignore anything except people who know who they are. They simply detest those who catch on to them, especially if you do it on first meeting. I have met a number of older female malignant narcissists who you can spot at fifty paces. It’s both something in the expression of both their faces and their presentation. They are as fake as hell, but they have eyes filled with bitterness and contempt whilst trying to convince you that they are your best friend. It doesn’t work anywhere near as well when you aren’t this sweet dewy-eyed thing anymore. And people usually end up with the faces they deserve.