Grandiose narcissists see themselves as “above” others. And feeling superior, some also feel entitled to prey on those they perceive as weak or inferior. Manipulative narcissists are covert-aggressors. They use various, subtle tactics to charm, disarm, and otherwise take advantage. They play on your emotions. Moreover, many find the game of getting the better of you amusing and satisfying. In short, they enjoy “toying” with you.
Manipulative narcissists lack empathy. They don’t care how you feel or how you’re impacted by their behavior. All they care about is having their way with you. It feeds their already inflated ego to do so. To them, successfully manipulating you attests to their superiority.
The Malignant Narcissism Spectrum
I’ve mentioned before that character disturbance exists along a spectrum. The same is true for narcissism. And narcissism’s most malignant form is rooted in severe empathy and shame deficits. True psychopaths or sociopaths have no conscience and simply don’t care. So, they prey on others as a lifestyle. Now, most manipulative narcissists aren’t full-blown psychopaths. But that’s no comfort to their victims. It always hurts to be taken advantage of. And it always causes you to question many things. You question not only yourself, but also your faith in human nature.
Sadly, aspects of modern culture increasingly tolerate, promote, and even reward narcissism. Attitudes of entitlement permeate our world. And some aspects of our culture encourage duplicity, deception, and manipulation. Accordingly, genuineness caries substantial risk nowadays. And that makes it hard to heed what I call the 10th commandment of sound character. (See: pp. 144-155 in Character Disturbance.) That commandment involves being of sincere heart and purpose. And its benefits are abundant. However, in our times, it’s particularly hard to teach this command and equally hard to follow it.
Sincerity of Heart and Purpose
Here are a few lines from Character Disturbance on the “10th commandment”:
Be honest with yourself about whatever you do and the reason you’re doing it. Be straightforward with others. Let your intentions be noble and transparent. Harbor no “hidden agendas.”
Teaching sincerity of heart and purpose is a difficult task. If one is not surrounded by others of solid character, sincerity receives a poor welcome. It’s so easy to learn how to present a false face. Neurotics hide their true feelings out of fear of rejection. Disturbed characters hide their true selves and their real agendas for more nefarious purposes.
The sincere course is the best course, if not in the short run, then certainly in the long run. Our entire social environment would take on a marvelous, productive character if more of us were willing to risk sincerity, and to engage in honest, open, and loving communication and debate.
We’re still working to find the right alternative venue for Character Matters. However, you can access all the podcasts on UCY.TV YouTube site. And eventually, you’ll be able to learn much more about the 10 Commandments of Character in a brand new book.