Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A common and poisonous misconception about narcissism

I was just Googling to find a certain website I remembered visiting before and noticed a result titled something like "Is narcissism a Jewish cultural trait?"

THAT pushed my button. I hate that.

First, where anybody even gets that idea is beyond me. I know very few Jews, but I was once caught amid hundreds of Israelis and American Jews aboard a threatened flight from Paris to Rome ultimately bound for Tel Aviv. I was amazed at the way these people responded to the gratutuitous abuse the French baggage handlers (obviously mad at the TARGETS of terrorism, not the terrorists, for making their job difficult that day) dished out to them. I was in awe of their dignified humility. Backbones of steel and yet so humble they lowered their eyes while being screamed at and just took it. So, where anybody gets "narcissism" out of THAT, I don't know. (Try haughty FRENCH culture, instead.)

This reminded me of these idiots going around accusing Americans and American culture of being narcissistic. They have completely missed the boat on malignant narcissism. In fact, they could not be more wrong. There's nothing inherently superior in us as a people, but because of our position in the world and our history we could not possibly be narcissistic. In fact we are the LAST people on the planet you could accuse of that. Why are we free of this character flaw? Because we have no nation to envy!

How does such an egregious error occur?

It's due to a common misconception about pathological narcissism, one I have even seen in published writing by psychiatrists on the subject. For some reason, an essential fact about narcissism has failed to sink in. They think narcissism is just having high self esteem or anything (e.g., great self confidence) they can view as having a big head.


Pathological narcissism just comes off as that. It is NOT inflated self esteem: it is deflated self esteem in denial. It is NOT self love: it is self hatred in denial.

It is NOT caused by fame, fortune, greatness or any other kind of aggrandizement: it is caused by the opposite = SHAME. It is not caused by triumph: it is caused by ignominious defeat. It is not caused by being exalted: it is caused by being brought low.

It is caused by battered self esteem. It is caused by making a person hate themselves at a very early age so that they never develop a proper relationship with themselves (their true selves) and identify with their IMAGE instead, which they spend their whole life glorifying at other people's expense.

So, there are two kinds of narcissism: one is pathological, one is not. The latter is natural and even healthy when one isn't overdosed on it. Here, we are always talking about the pathological kind, malignant narcissism. NPD.

Example: Take someone who is not a narcissist and make him very famous, a star, either a Hollywood star or a superstar athlete. The whole world adores him and flatters him. He lets it go to his head and becomes obnoxiously narcissistic, thinking he's just God's gift to the world.

Obnoxious and overdosed with narcissism as as he is, he isn't a malignant narcissist. The proof? He doesn't go around tearing other people "down off that pedestal." In other words, he isn't a predator. He loves his family. He wouldn't dream of abusing his children. He doesn't have to tear others down to make himself feel good. So, he isn't a serial slanderer and a serial bully. Good things happening to others doesn't make him miserable. He needn't inflict pain on others to kill a pain inside him.

So, there is a world of difference between him and a malignant narcisist. They are not even the same species.

You can easily test this many ways.

For example, praise somebody else in front of him. He may well try to upstage that other person, but a real malignant narcissist will do something else: he will immediately attack that praised person and begin a campaign of character assassination against him or her. Big difference, eh? The first guy just has a fat head, the other guy is malignant.

Another way to test the difference is to tug at his heartstrings when he is being an inconsiderate rude jerk. His heartstrings may be brittle, but he has heartstrings. You can reach them. So he will soften. A real malignant narcissist will do the opposite. He will demonstrate extravagant callousness and spurn your appeal with savage contempt. If you don't heed the warning in his first snarl and stop tugging at his heartstrings, he will fly into a rage at you for doing so.

Again, big difference. The one guy is just an ass, the other guy is malignant.

That's why I made that crack about French culture. Who's trying to tear another people "down off that pedestal?" Americans? or the French? Who has suffered ignominious defeat? America? or France? Who has suffered a great fall from imperial world domination? America? or France?

Indeed, cultrual narcissism throughout the world is expressed most openly as -- guess what? Anti-Americanism. Narcissistic envy of the most visible target for it = "that shining City on a Hill" -- America.

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At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was as clear and concise with the necessary accompanying examples of a definition as I have come across. I have dealt with someone who you would think had all the her dreams come true and yet she was extremely jealous and would assainate my character any chance she could get. She had a difficult early childhood and she lied about many things obsessively. She is responsible for the poisoning of my 6 1/2 year old son who was found drowned in the family pond and the autopsy showed that he had drugs and alcohol in his body. Furthermore, my son knew how to swim and never liked to go alone in the pond especially at 9 30 on a slightly chilly morning. Would a Narcissist be capable so as to make herself feel better, to drown a child in your opinion? I need an expert to testify for the upcoming trial. Please let me know ASAP.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger MS said...

My email address is
as pertaining to the posting at
11 25 pm

At 12:29 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

Oh, what can I say? I am so sorry to hear that. I wish I could give you more than my condolances. But I am no expert. So, my opinion means no more than anybody else's.

Have you tried asking for information on experts who might be able to help you at these two forums?




I have seen links to experts and attorneys and such on these websites. Some attorneys have good experience in cases against narcissists and may be able to help your lawyer expose a narcissist in court.

I am sure your lawyer can find experts and information showing that well-known killers like Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein are widely thought to be NPD. So, there should be no doubt as to what someone suffering from NPD is capable of.

The EU doesn't recognize NPD as a personality disorder. It does recognize the mental illness, but does not class it as a personality disorder. I read of a case in the UK where a boy murdered his parents, and the BBC stated that his pathological narcissim is considered a defense there. (I don't understand why, since narcissists prove that they know what they're doing, that it's wrong, and that they can control their behavior.)

I hope you find the expert witness you need. If I find any more information on where you might look, I will email you.


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