The Narcissistic Spectrum
Charming narcissists represent only part of a broad spectrum of character disturbance. Traditional frameworks recognized only one type of narcissist. And they proposed only one set formative dynamics. But my early clinical research taught me the shortsightedness of this view. (I speak to this in In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and How Did We End Up Here?.) And recent empirical research has validated my perspective. Narcissists do in fact come in a wide variety of types. Moreover, the exact nature and severity of their narcissism also varies. And how they get the way they are varies, too.
I’ve written before on the various types of narcissism. (See, for example: Two Main Varieties of Narcissism.) Two main types exist. One type (i.e. the “vulnerable type) cares what you think of them. That’s because they so like to be liked. The other type (i.e. the “grandiose” type) could care less. They just want to use and abuse you. Charming narcissists can be of either of these types. So, you have to be careful. And you have to put some faith in your intuition’s natural “charm alarm.”
How Charming Narcissists Manipulate
Charming narcissists turn on the charm for one of two reasons. They might simply crave your attention and admiration. But they also might just have plans to take advantage of you. In either case, the reason they succeed in manipulating you is the same. Victims simply confuse interest with caring. That is, victims become enamored of the interest a charmer might show. They get seduced by it. And the more interest shown, the more desired they might feel. Feeling desired invites you to feel valued. But simply desiring someone does not equate with valuing them as a person. Nor does it equate with caring for them or their welfare.
We live in a time of rampant character dysfunction. So, it behooves us all to be vigilant. When someone turns on the charm, we must exercise caution. Seduction is one of the principal manipulation tactics. And we have to remember that seducers are trying to secure something via covert means. We have to decide if they possess the character worthy of our compliance. Unfortunately, we live in times where we’ve stopped testing character well enough. And too many of us realize the true character of our relationship partners after it’s too late.
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