Many folks these days have narcissistic features in their character. However, that doesn’t necessarily make them a narcissistic personality. Nor does it necessarily mean they have a personality or character disorder. It helps to understand the vast spectrum of narcissism.
Some problematic cultural norms have become so commonplace and deeply ingrained that we hardly ever think of them. Moreover, we rarely think of the impact they have on character formation. The values a culture promotes and the behaviors it rewards shape not only individuals but also the society at large. Societies of noble character are built upon people of solid character.
Some narcissists blame to avoid shame. But many narcissists today have no shame. Such narcissists blame only to justify their cruelty and attacks.
Narcissistic insults stem from clashes with reality. Reality sends the message: “You’re not as great or powerful as you think you are.” But grandiose characters don’t take such challenges lying down. They see them as both and affront and an insult. And that’s typically when they unleash their rage.
Narcissistic bullies act out of a sense of entitlement. And they injure without compunction because they lack shame and empathy.
These days we have all kinds of ways to explain people’s dysfunction. And while there are indeed times when a perfectly healthy person’s biochemistry suddenly and for no apparent reason goes kaflooey, and cases where unpredictable tragedy so traumatizes that it temporarily impairs even the most well-adjusted person, more often, a person’s character not only predisposes the problems they experience in life but also exacerbates those problems when they occur.
At the heart of narcissism of the grandiose type lies a lack of reverence. Reverence for what? Anything or anyone other (or “bigger”) than self. Grandiose narcissists find nothing outside of themselves worth revering, so they have trouble having empathy.
An unfortunate number of folks bring all sorts of pain into their lives because they neither love themselves enough nor know how to love themselves properly. But self-love can be pathological, too, which is what the narcissism spectrum is all about.
Recovering from gaslighting effects and regaining one’s sanity after an abusive relationship isn’t easy. Victims frequently mistrust themselves and worry about making the same relationship mistakes again. And getting the wrong kind of help can easily re-traumatize. Empowerment begins with understanding what really happened and why.
Toxic relationships are born of narcissistic irreverence. One simply can’t love what what can’t first appreciate.