What is a narcissist? The Mayo Clinic defines it as: a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Sound like anybody you know?
I believe the above label and definition needs revising to a more straightforward one which I will share later. In the meantime, imagine a world void of narcissists. No seriously. Such a negative label, but based on the above definition, what do you think the world would be like without narcissists? And what if narcissism is not really a personality “disorder” after all? And what if this particular type of personality is actually essential to a society?
Sure, they want attention. Sure, they have inflated egos often based on their accomplishments. Sure, they seek a pat on the back and recognition. Now consider (hypothesize) in what types of careers might we find this type of personality?
Sports? The arts? Leaders of large bodies of people? So, politics? Religion? Education? CEO’s and owners of corporations? What about seekers of worldly coveted awards? Or those in the sciences? What about doctors of something?
Without narcissists…how might these types of professions look today or even prosper?
So these personalities have a natural talent and want to exploit their talent for some sort of personal gain. Is that really a disorder? By an outsider being able to enjoy their talent, the outsider gains. Anything wrong with that?
So they have a deep-seated desire to beat their chests and say, “Look what I did!!!” or “Look at what I can do!” so they push themselves to be better than they were yesterday or to create or to discover. Is that really a disorder? Through their accomplishments, someone else gains. Anything wrong with that?
Because being labeled (anything) normally carries a negative connotation, is there nothing positive to consider? Have narcissists not contributed to the advancement of societies in any area? Looking at the positive side of the coin right now folks, just the positive. Please also note that you did not read that I wrote that everyone who has benefitted the world is or was a highly functioning narcissist. There is such a thing as a humble spirit – which is NOT being discussed right now.
Sure, (my definition soon) narcissists are egocentric, and because of this they would also benefit the world by never getting into an intimate partner relationship; but…they want what they see others having that they do not. Peace. Harmony. Synergy with another person. Love. People highly functioning in their narcissism have a disconnect with these positive forces. They lack the balance for harmony to exist…because…they are number one in their own lives. They may want it, but until they step away from themselves, they will never have it. And at this point, they have no idea how to have it or even what’s in the way of obtaining it! They may actually blame other people for their own lack or simply have no idea they are even lacking! Ask me how I know.
There is a balance. To label a person really limits that person down to…that label…and removes their humanity. Do we not all have the capacity to be narcissistic? What if everyone is actually a narcissist but some are just more flamboyant in it than others? Are we all not egocentric from the moment of birth? Is that not why we find seekers of a higher purpose wanting to be part of something bigger – less worldy – less…self? As if they have acknowledged their “self” and have discovered they want more – that focusing on self has not been fully rewarding and that something is still missing? They have become enlightened through their own self realizations and are perhaps, now, just less narcissistic than before this realization?
Consider those who want to “fix” someone else (the brokenness) under the guise of wanting to “help them.” They might seek knowledge on how to do this. They might go to great lengths in school to be educated on how to fix someone else (normally through the modality that particular school fashions as THE way). They might even study different routes on how to do this from different schools of thought! (I’m sure rare but no less possible.) They then, once graduated, get to charge a great amount of money (their reward) for the opportunity to then try to fix another person (another reward if they are actually successful on any level in giving the person they are trying to fix the right formula of concepts to consider in order to ultimately fix themselves!). Is that person a narcissist for wanting to fix another person? Are they subconsciously trying to play God…having an inflated sense of their own importance (see Mayo Clinic definition of narcissistic behavior above)? Is it even humanly possible to fix another person?
I truly believe that there are those who enter their profession (such as psychology) with good intentions. Others? Not so sure, and truly, does it matter? They are the only ones who know or who will realize their “why” – their intentions – through trying to help others. If they are open to it, they will find their own truth organically or through intentionally seeking.
Another hypothesis to consider might be the relationship between the highly functioning narcissist and God. Is there a relationship? Is it possible that highly functioning narcissists do not believe there is anything beyond themselves in this universe and that is why Mayo Clinic calls this a lack of empathy for others? No inkling of a higher power? Based on my own self, I believe there is a distinctly high correlation between someone who is spiritual and someone who is not and humility vs narcissism. Spiritual (in my opinion) = being humble without effort or being less narcissistic than before becoming humble. Having the knowledge that I am actually NOT “all that.” Having the inkling.
We also know there is such a thing as false humility. BEWARE the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Yes, the highly functioning narcissist wears that brand.
I’ve had educated/schooled ones tell me in blanket statements that narcissists cannot change (which, if we all carry this attribute, declares there is no hope for anyone with narcissistic tendencies). Definitively. Period. End of story. I find this thinking terribly sad and maybe even a bit narrow-minded on the part of the speaker. At any rate, hopeless. If that is truly the case, why bother trying to “fix” the narcissist (or anyone) if the label indeed cannot change? It also removes the power of the self-discovery of God or a universal higher power as an option for change. This self-actualization that my ego is simply my ego and has no real bearing on the beginning, the middle, or end of creation is highly powerful in the manifestation of real and permanent…change.
Here, please fill out this form. (Based on the Mayo Clinic definition) If you have experience with one or more of these characteristics below, you are a narcissist and (based on articles stating that narcissists can change only their behavior – minimizing the capacity to change to only behavioral (temporary) and not spiritual (permanent)) I probably cannot help you with the change you actually need:
think about yourself a lot ___; have a hard time putting others ahead of yourself ___; low self-esteem ___; distrustful ___; highly functioning over achiever ___; disappointed when you don’t get accolades for a job well done ___; generally unhappy ___; unfulfilling relationships ___; you don’t have many friends ___; can’t maintain a relationship much less a healthy one with others ___; very good relationship with self even if it’s demeaning ___.
Change is an interesting word don’t you think? Some say it is hard to change. I disagree. What is hard is knowing you need to change and fighting it…resisting change…because you don’t really want to. Hard is wanting to change but not knowing how and not taking the initiative to find out because…you don’t really want to. However, once you make the decision (to do or not to do) then change is quite easy. It’s not even analyzed. It just happens. Through a new perspective we can live in harmony with.
I’ve written all of these thoughts because I struggle with the word “narcissist” and its currently popular, generalized definition. In my limited scope of the subject, here is what I think, if one must be labeled, the true definition of narcissistic should be: An aggressive personality who seeks to benefit only themselves at the expense of all others at any cost outside of themselves.
The wolf…in or out of sheep’s clothing. The true narcissist. The true (MJ) definition.
And YES (based on my definition) these true narcissists have absolutely left death and destruction in their wake and have not been nor will they be a positive force for humanity with their current mindset – and obviously have or had no desire to seek change – or they would no longer think this way – which leads to their grievous behavior – but let’s keep a balanced perspective. It seems people are being labeled narcissistic anywhere from just having a highly inflated sense of self to those who commit or are involved with genocide. I think that’s wrong and needs to be changed. The label needs to be specific to one type of personality – not a spectrum. Then analyze if having an inflated sense of self is really a “disorder” or just a natural development of being born with an ego (that also houses other labels) – that CAN be changed to a more deflated sense of self (the humble spirit) with self-realization of their true purpose inside the element we call life.
I also believe until someone truly seeks a higher understanding of who they are and their purpose, that they cannot change…which leaves it completely open for anyone TO change.
What if we stopped labeling (which would decimate an entire field of study called psychology), stopped analyzing others and instead looked at each person as human?! On their own path to enlightenment…or not. Some will seek their truth throughout their lives. Others will not. If you simply have to label for the sake of applying labels, then I believe everyone is narcissistic to a degree and probably more at some points in their lives than at others. How can we not be?
I also believe we all have the capacity to be humble. I believe there is a healthy balance to be had. I don’t believe we can be fully one with God until death because of the fight against self – our humanness. Our narcissism. BUT I also think with this understanding, that we can achieve something very close to peace (which is internal) with the knowledge of the eternal. What if, when someone asks, we be an example for how their life could be by sharing how we found peace? Not preaching. Sharing. Not textbook analyzing. Sharing. Not labeling (It’s one thing if I’m paying for an opinion, but I’ve actually had more than one PhD label me as I’m sharing! During social interactions!) No thanks. Go try to impress someone else with your vocabulary and astuteness. You think I don’t know I have issues, lol! I am happy to receive ideas and new perspectives, but how can you possibly think that your labels are helpful to me on ANY level? But encouragement works. Edification works. Try one of those approaches next time.
So, I propose psychologists change the definition of narcissism to a more specific horrific personality bent on saving self by destroying others or use it as a general term of how people are from the onset of birth in relation to ego and not consider it a disorder. I propose that narcissism helps to push a society in new directions, creative thought, and ways of thinking and seeing the world. I propose that unless your professional opinion has been asked &/or paid for, that you not label people outside of the office. I propose that unless you (a non therapist) have permission to speak into someone’s life, that you keep your opinion about them to yourself. I propose everyone opening their hearts to the concept that permanent, positive change is possible. If change has happened in your life, then it can definitely happen in someone else’s – don’t limit them with a label. I propose you consider changing first 🙂
You know, we get to choose who is in our lives and who is not. We get to choose how we respond when someone treats us poorly. We get to choose how we treat others. We get to choose what labels we agree with or not that people want to put on us. We even get to choose to believe (or not) in anything larger than ourselves! If you are struggling with a relationship, what if you chose to stop trying to fix the other person, stop labeling, stop analyzing them and really focused on seeking your own truth? Analyze your own thoughts and actions? Your own why. If you’ve got some stuff figured out, teach someone how you changed! Healing starts inside. Start there. It has been said, seek and ye shall find. No judgement. No fear. No criticizing. No analysis of others. No labeling. No pointing fingers at others. Just a down and dirty, sincere seeking of self.
Hi! I’m MJ! And I’m a survivor of Domestic Violence. This blog, yes, is for other survivors of Domestic Abuse. However, sometimes I like to write about other learning curve events or thoughts in my life.
Through VictoryLife House, survivors can find information to help them through the trauma they’ve experienced. Through this blog, I hope you also enjoy other random types of musings.
Life without abuse IS an option. Choose life!
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