Archive for December, 2014

Yesterday I posted how narcissists seek out people below them on the social ladder while simultaneously trying to mix and mingle with those above them. I was fully expecting readers to message me about suspected narcissists in their lives; but I was completely surprised that the post inspired a Facebook friend to reach out and tell me that the post was a bit of mirror to his/her own behavior.

In this friend’s own words:

“Confession: I have ‘gone slumming’ to boost my self-esteem. I have a friend from middle school who had a nasty drug problem (but traded it in for a less nasty one). I only hear from her when she needs help, and instead of ignoring her, when it “serves to build me up” I help her out. Helping this woman, who has been incarcerated, has prostituted herself, and has Hep-C makes me feel like less of a fuck-up.”

First of all, I commend this person for having the courage and the self-awareness to see him/herself in the post. While it’s easy to learn about the traits of the personality disordered and start pointing one’s finger at others, it’s much harder to take a sobering look at oneself and say, “Wait a minute… I do that.” Further, it took a lot of guts on this person’s part to share this information with me, especially knowing how critical I can be of those who show strong narcissistic traits. Thing is, this person has nothing to worry about from me.

One thing about narcissistic traits: we ALL have them. In fact, in small doses, we actually need them since these behaviors are an adaptation to help ensure our survival as both individuals and as a species. It’s only when these traits become pathological that a problem might occur, particularly if a person displays the characteristically narcissistic trait of having no empathy for others and/or using people as objects.

By his/her own admission, my friend is using” his/her friend – and the friend’s misery and poor choices – to make him/herself feel better about him/herself. Given my friend’s self awareness in this matter and implied regret, I would be remiss to label him/her a narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder, per se. That said, it could be that my friend displays certain “destructive narcissistic patterns” (DNP) that he/she needs to resolve.

Based on the small amount of information I received, it would appear that my friend might possess a certain modicum of low self-esteem. This is evidenced by his/her need to “go slumming,” as they put it. His/her message to me hints that he/she might not be helping his/her friend out of the goodness of his/her own heart but rather to make him/herself feel superior by surrounding his/herself with someone with character flaws.

Though I’m NOT a therapist or life coach, I do know enough about DNP to suggest to my friend that he/she needs to seriously address why they have such low self esteem. Chances are, there’s something deeply embedded in their subconscious that continues to plague him/her, causing this person to seek validation from others.

Happiness and self-esteem has to be organic… it must come from inside ourselves in order for it to be genuine and life-affirming. Seeking outside validation is one of the most fruitless and frustrating of life’s pursuits because few people can read our minds enough to be able to give it to us, while those who know we need it refuse to give it for a myriad of reasons.

I hope this helps both my friend and anyone else who might have read yesterday’s post and saw themselves – even if ever so briefly – reflected within the words.

When it comes to social mobility, narcissists are bi… bi-directional, that is.

Although all narcissists believe they belong at the top of the social ladder, they’re more than willing to climb down a few rungs if it serves their ultimate goal. This means that these smug, power-hungry elitist assholes are more than willing to make it look like they care about those less fortunate than themselves, but don’t let this Norman Rockwell paint job fool you. If a narcissist is spending any amount of time with those who are levels below him, it only means that these people are the rungs he plans to step on while climbing his way to the top.

Nothing titillates a narcissist’s senses more than someone who’s down on their luck. Throw in half a dozen or so of these people and you have a narcissist’s wet dream. They often go to great lengths – and great expense – to surround themselves with people who are down on their luck. Why? Because narcissists need a captive audience; in other words, people who are dependent upon them. After all, these are the ones who will look up to the narcissist, flattering and admiring him and giving him his narcissistic supply. This group of unfortunates serves a second, more sinister purpose for the narcissist: they’re there to bear the brunt of his rage when things go wrong and he needs to tear someone down to build himself up. Because of their dependency, the narcissist knows he can get away with treating his minions in such a negative and unhealthy manner.

While the deadbeats, losers, and dregs of society make a great platform, narcissists aren’t content to simply stand above the masses. Their lives are defined by an insatiable craving for money, status, and power, which means they’re always courting those whom they perceive as “the elite.” Whether it’s the who’s-who of a local social scene or the top businessmen, politicians, and personalities in a given area, the narcissist is often courting these people in a desperate attempt to capture their attention. His sense of entitlement and grandiosity leads the narcissist to believe that he belongs among this elite. Sadly, the narcissist often sabotages his own successes, often by assuming the role of the subordinate, cowing and deferring to the group of people he holds in such high esteem.

What’s perhaps the saddest part about this scenario is the narcissist’s inability to know thyself, so to speak. If he could accept the fact that he suffers from a personality disorder – good luck to anyone brave enough to try telling him – he would understand that those in “the elite” are not without their own varying levels of narcissism. They know that the narcissist is only interested in them because of what he hopes they will do for him… they can practically sniff him out from a mile away. With his agenda as transparent as his personality, the narcissist is often “read” by the very people he believes he belongs amongst and these social circles often use him at best, or ignore him at the worst.

The narcissist either doesn’t realize that he’s not wanted or he’s all too painfully aware of this fact. Either way, he will never acknowledge the problem to his underlings or himself. Instead, he’ll often say that he’s on the verge of something big, often enlisting his minions to support his long-shot schemes with the promise of some great reward on the back-end. And like a pit bull locking its jaws, the narcissist clamps down tightly upon the hope that he will one day be welcomed by those elite-level people he so desperately needs and he’ll continue fighting this losing battle until the bitter and inevitable crash.

Remember those who were below the narcissist on the social hierarchy? They come in handy when the narcissist dreams of reaching for the brass ring come up short. Instead of recognizing those who helped him try to achieve his goal, these “unwashed masses” will bear the full brunt of his narcissistic rage. This will manifest itself in small temper tantrums over perceived slights, projection of faults and flaws, and full-on blame for the narcissist’s failures. It’s never easy for those whom the narcissist has surrounded himself with and in many cases, it’s difficult for them to leave the narcissist, usually due to financial or familial dependency.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, the subject of narcissism seems to be all the rage in the blogosphere these days. There are hundreds of thousands of people who’ve suffered the wrath of these monsters in ill-fitting human skins, and these walking wounded (aka “survivors”) seem oh-so-willing to share their expertise. Being raised in a home I affectionately call “Trauma Central,” I, too, have “grown up narcissist” and believe I have a few things to offer in identifying their behavior. I share these tips with you in hopes they help you identify the narcissists that might be in your life so you can take the appropriate steps to distance yourself from them.

Do you know someone who’s climbing one or both directions on the social mobility ladder? If so, try taking a closer look… not just at what they’re doing but why they’re doing it. Question their motives, even if it’s only to yourself, to determine whether they’re being a good Samaritan or they’re using charity to disguise their own selfish schemes. You should also want to question what role you might play in all of this. Do you often feel used? Do you feel the relationship is unequal? Does this person often frustrate you or blame you for their problems? If any of this sound eerily familiar, your friend-in-question could be a narcissist or similarly personality-disordered person.

If you strongly suspect the person in your life is a narcissist, take the advice that everyone in the narcissism awareness movement adheres to and go NO CONTACT.