Grandiose Narcissists Are Legends in Their Own Minds

Legends in Their Own Minds

A pioneering researcher labeled grandiose narcissists “legends in their own minds.” I’ve written about this type of narcissist before. They differ greatly from vulnerable, compensatory narcissistic types. And the ways they differ generally make them more problematic characters. Those ways also make them less amenable to change.

The grandiosity of some narcissists borders on delusionality. (See: When Narcissistic Grandiosity Crosses the Line.) Some folks don’t just boast of greatness. They actually believe in their superiority. And they rarely waver in that conviction even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The Underpinnings of Grandiosity

Some narcissists are not quite what they appear. Vulnerable, compensatory, more “neurotic” types are an example. Underneath their pompous facade, these folks struggle with insecurity and self-doubt. And they inwardly know the image they project is a pretense. Such narcissists are generally less toxic and a bit easier to tolerate. They’re easier to work with in therapy, too. But in a culture of rampant entitlement and indulgence, they are increasingly rare. Our times have spawned much non-neurotic character disturbance. So, we have too many folks who don’t just act like they’re great, superior, important – but rather know they are.

Folks convinced of their special status expect others to recognize the fact, too. Some even demand it! These legends in their own minds aren’t seeking love. In fact, they neither understand nor embrace that concept. (See: Most Narcissists Cannot Really Love.) What they actually want is your adulation, adoration –  even worship. (See also: 4 A-Words Are Red Flags for Narcissism.) And make no mistake, there is no pretense in that.

Grandiose narcissists are a distinct and troubling breed. Convinced of their own greatness, they can’t even imagine anything or anyone greater. And they are loathe to even consider serving something greater. That would put them in a position they vehemently detest: the susbordinate position. (See also: (Pathological Pride Rejects and Blocks the Light.)

Unsustainable: The Age and Culture of Narcissism

I’ve been saying for years that the age of narcissism is coming to a close. And that’s one of the reasons I wrote Essentials for the Journey. I wanted folks to know how things things must turn around.

How can I be so optimistic? Because present socio-cultural structures are simply unsustainable. They have fostered too much character dysfunction. As a result, relationships routinely crumble. Marriages fail, often multiple times. Families, businesses, and other enterprises suffer. Inevitably, societies suffer, too. And that, in a nutshell, is why character matters, and matters so much. That’s also why things simply must turn around. The course we’ve been on is simply unsustainable.

Character Matters

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4 thoughts on “Grandiose Narcissists Are Legends in Their Own Minds

  1. An ex-boyfriend left me flabbergasted once, when he complained some friend of our said “Praise Jesus” after he found some lost item. What struck me as strange was he was angry at Jesus, not because of Atheism, but because she should have been more appreciative of him. For a moment I was shock that he felt entitled to the appreciation a woman felt for Jesus. I blew it off as some weird miscommunication.

    Unfortunately a lot more clues were forthcoming that he really felt he deserved a worshipful kind of adulation. After I found that Christian group, and my own spiritual awakening, he told me was mad that he lost me. Naive me thought, “well I’m still with you silly.” No, he thought he deserved worshipful adulation from me. I felt all hero worship for him at the beginning, but then I wasn’t a teenager anymore and was growing up. He expected that to only grow, even as he cruelly sabotaged me, and dumped undeserved contempt on me. I had to leave to save myself. But now, years later, I can finally make sense of the experience.

  2. Dr. Simon- first I just want to thank you for all of your work, it has helped me immensely in the aftermath of an LTR with a covert narcissist and the awful trauma, depression, and anguish that have ensued in picking up the pieces of my life and moving forward. I’m not out of the woods yet, but have made a lot of progress and am taking responsibility for my own healing and path forward.

    It’s been 7 months of no contact after a 6 year relationship that ended with a brutal ‘unmasking’ followed by 3 months of emotional torture until I finally saw what was really happening and walked away. I’m having a very strong inner voice urging me to go public with my knowledge and experience in order to help other people, and to stand up for myself as a necessary part of healing my self-respect and autonomy. This includes wanting to go back to school and embark on a new career as a therapist. However, in my own practice of radical self-honesty I must admit that I also feel an underlying desire for vindication in knowing that by going public I will be indirectly outing my ex-partner. I feel like if everyone keeps quiet and never holds their abuser accountable, this will just continue and others will be hurt like I have been. I have no desire for an ‘outcome’, only to make my voice heard and to share my experience with others. What is your take on this?

    1. John,

      The desire to “unmask” and “out” is natural and even healthy in many ways, whether or not you’re hoping for a certain “outcome.” But engaging in that behavior rarely has benefits beyond a temporary feeling of self-vindication. Now, sharing your experience, especially with full honesty about yourself and your own vulnerability is an entirely different matter. Putting good into the world is exactly what we all need to do. And in sharing, we always provide the potential for others to learn and grow. So, in a nutshell, my take is simple: share and share honestly. But steer away from image deconstructing and tarnishing. Tell your story. Share the impact. There are many other characters out there like the ex-partner you describe and many other potentially vulnerable targets. Sharing your story further affirms and empowers you and empowers others at the same time.

      1. Thank you so much for that thoughtful answer Dr. Simon, very helpful. I suppose it can be a slippery slope in telling my story honestly, because it does include the truth about my ex’s despicable behavior. From your answer, it seems that as long as I stick to an altruistic purpose and monitor myself to steer away from ‘smearing’ that person for my own vindication, I will be on the right track. Much appreciated.

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