Several years ago, I read Scott Peck’s book People of the Lie. I had suffered from a particularly painful experience that involved another person who absolutely seemed to have no empathy at all. Without empathy, there can be no conscience, and without conscience, evil can easily occur because people who cannot feel for others never see their own behaviors–in regard to those others. It has been 25 years since I read the book, but if I am not mistaken, excessive narcissism is essentially the phenomenon that Peck addressed in People of the Lie. The book opened my eyes.
In this absorbing and equally inspiring companion volume to his classic trilogy—The Road Less Traveled, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, and The Road Less Traveled and Beyond—Dr. M. Scott Peck brilliantly probes into the essence of human evil. – Amazon
Narcissism is a complex issue and narcissists appear in many shapes and forms. But most narcissists have a glaring lack of empathy, which is a kind of numbness. In my opinion, the anecdote to numbness is the ability to see. By this, I don’t mean the ability to look. Looking and seeing are two separate things. Even flies can look. Looking is nothing more than image recognition. Seeing is a deeper thing. It has to do with perceiving, with understanding, and with feeling. Seeing has to do with empathy, and empathy is not the same thing as having sympathy. Sympathy can be nothing more than pity. Empathy is an ability to feel another’s pain.
Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a business psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, is the Director of the Center for Progressive Development in Washington, DC. LaBier distinguishes between empathy and sympathy, and he points out that many of the people who have lost empathy are the people who have become obsessed with acquiring–with greediness.
“But many of the people I see everyday, whether in psychotherapy or executive consulting, struggle with their own versions of the same thing through too much emphasis on acquiring – both things and people. That’s going to promote vanity and self-importance. Then, you become increasingly alienated from your own heart, and equate what you have with who you are.” Read More Here
Narcissists Are All Around Us.
In fact, a narcissist is probably the evilest person in many of our circles, but narcissists have the skill to make other people question themselves and not the narcissist. In this post, I will point out some important things to know about narcissists.
Important Things to Understand about Narcissism
Being Successful Is Not the Same As Being Correct
Because many of the most successful and powerful people among us are severe narcissists, the lines become fuzzy. Too often, we correlate being successful with being correct, and that is not always true.
Narcissists Are Masters of Deception
Another confusing detail is that when it is to a narcissist’s advantage, he/she can be relentlessly charming. A narcissist’s charm is his most powerful weapon. Since other people seem to love the narcissist, we begin to doubt ourselves and not the narcissist.
Narcissists Deceive Themselves
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about a narcissist is that he/she is absolutely unaware of any of his/her wrongdoing. Like an alcoholic, if a person cannot see a problem, the problem cannot be fixed. There simply is no reasoning with a narcissist about any way that you feel you have been wronged or even misunderstood.
Narcissists React Violently to Criticism
In my experience, confronting a narcissist about how he/she has hurt you is an effort in futility. A narcissist, who cannot tolerate criticism at all, is only enraged by confrontation.
Narcissists Are Vindictive
And then there’s hell to pay.
For more information about narcissism, the following article from Psychology Today is helpful:
The following are some of the narcissists’ traits mentioned in Psychology Today:
1. Narcissists are highly reactive to criticism. Or anything they assume or interpret as negatively evaluating their personality or performance….
2. A narcissist has low self-esteem [but seems to be overly self-assured] This facet of his psyche is complicated because superficially, a narcissist appears to be highly self-confident.
3. A narcissist can be inordinately self-righteous and defensive. Needing so much to protect his overblown but fragile ego, a narcissist’s ever-vigilant defense system can be extraordinarily easy to set off.
4. A narcissist reacts to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. [But because narcissists are masters of charm and deception, that rage may not be obvious to others. Like a ticking time bomb, the rage may be hidden, out of sight, but it is still threatening].
5. A narcissist projects onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves.
6. A narcissist unconsciously views others as “extensions” of himself and regards others to serve their own needs.
7. A narcissist routinely put his own needs before everyone else’s.
8. A narcissist has no empathy.
In closing, if I did not see myself in at least part of the above list, I would be the very worst person of the lie. I absolutely do have some of the very unattractive qualities named above, and I continuously appraise myself and buffet myself–seeking to keep potential problems in check. Therein is the distinction, and I believe my own saving grace: I DO recognize some of my own negative behaviors. A severe narcissist does not.
Have you met the Queen of Denial? She is probably a narcissist.
©Jacki Kellum September 11, 2017