Forming a Healthy Conscience
Forming a healthy conscience is essential to character integrity. What is conscience? To put it very simply, conscience is that part of our character makeup that helps us function in prosocial ways. Sometimes, it helps us put on the brakes when we feel tempted to do the unthinkable. Other times, it pushes us to do the unpleasant when when to do so is ultimately good for us and everyone else. But forming a solid conscience is not so much a matter of the mind. Rather, it’s a matter of the heart. And there are some traits in a person’s personality that can make forming a healthy conscience difficult, if not impossible. I talk about these matters at length in both Character Disturbance and In Sheep’s Clothing. (See also: Lobos Con Piel de Cordero.)
Two types of personalities are notorious for their conscience impairments. Narcissists are one type. All the various narcissistic subtypes have trouble forming a healthy conscience because they consider themselves above the need to serve a governing higher power. (See: Egotists: “Above” the Need for a Governing “Higher Power”.) The disturbed characters I call the aggressive personalities have big troubles with conscience formation, too. They don’t just feel above the need for a governing “higher power. Rather, while they fully well recognize the various authorities in their lives, they adrently pit themselves against them. Accordingly, they fight the entire socialization process at every step.
Internalization Is Inherently Subordination
There are a lot of “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to healthy social functioning. Most of us recognize these dos and don’ts. More than that, most of us take most of them to heart, internalizing them – making them a part of ourselves – our character makeup. And that’s largely because we have the capacity for subordination (alt: submission) when it’s in ours and everyone else’s interests. We appreciate the need for them. And we submit ourselves to them. Ultimately, as I’ve asserted in countless workshops: “Internalization of a prohibition is essentially an act of submission.” Narcissists see no need for that. And aggressive personalities fight tooth and nail against that.
A New Series
I’ll be launching a new series on the aggressive personalities on next week’s installment of Character Matters.