The Narcissism Spectrum
Many psychological conditions exist along a spectrum. We’ve come to appreciate this in recent years. And so it is with character disturbance. It exists along spectra of both quality and degree. That’s also the way it is with narcissism. And the narcissism spectrum is particularly broad and complex. That’s because both the type (quality) and severity (degree) of narcissism can vary considerably. But narcissism is the hallmark attribute of our age of egocentricity and entitlement. So, understanding the narcissism spectrum can help anyone navigate through our increasingly character-disturbed world more effectively.
We’re all narcissistic to some degree. In fact, we begin our lives as fairly self-absorbed, egocentric creatures. But most of us grow out of this stage. We grow in our awareness and appreciation of others. Hopefully, we also come to see ourselves as part of something much bigger than ourselves. This enables us to steadily overcome our inherent narcissism. But some of us seem to have difficulty moving out of this stage. And, depending on how our innate traits and experiences shape our ways of coping, the manifestations of our narcissism can be quite problematic. So, in the series debuting today, I’ll be delving deeply into the narcissism spectrum. And I’ll be integrating information posted in prior articles.
Healthy vs. Pathological Self-Love
There’s nothing wrong with loving oneself. In fact, an unfortunate number of folks bring all manner of pain into their lives because of their lack of self-love. They neither love themselves enough nor know how to love themselves properly. But self-love can be pathological, too. And how self-love becomes pathological is partly what the narcissism spectrum is all about.
Unless we love ourselves, we can’t possibly love another very well. But we first have to understand the nature of authentic love. Simply defined, loving is wishing someone well. Inauthentic love is not about well-wishing. Sometimes, it’s about affirmation. Other times, it’s about admiration or even adulation. These things are substitutes for real love, and poor substitutes at that. Unfortunately, they’re what we’ll sometimes settle for in the absence of the genuine article. And while that’s sad, it’s still not necessarily pathological. But pursuing adulation or affirmation, especially for its own sake, is indeed pathological. (By pathological, I mean toxic to sound character formation.) And how rabidly and intractably we pursue these substitutes for genuine love bespeaks our level of character pathology.
A Deeper Discussion about Narcissism
The blog already contains numerous articles on narcissism. See, for example:
- Narcissism and Character Development
- Personality and Character Disorders – The Narcissism Dimension
- Two Main Varieties of Narcissists
- Malignant Narcissism
But over the coming weeks, we’ll be delving deeper into the topic. And we’ll be looking at the narcissism spectrum in the light of both the recent research and years of clinical experience. Of course, you can find a plethora of helpful information on narcissism in all my books.
Character Matters will not air live Sunday May 27, 2018. Instead, you’ll be treated to a special rebroadcast. It will feature multiple uninterrupted performances of America, My Home! The song is as dear to my heart as the inspiration that gave it birth. It’s just another way to spread the message about the importance of character.
Freedom and character are inextricably intertwined. And that’s a foundational premise of our country. When folks with a solid internal moral compass (i.e. conscience) are free from oppression, they’ll do great things, not just for themselves but for all. Sadly, in the face of character decline, there is an inevitable invitation to impose morality externally. This necessarily impinges on liberty. That’s why character matters so much. Freedom hangs in the balance.
Want to make America great again? How about starting with ourselves. And how about holding one another accountable. When people of solid character dominate our populace again, the soundness of our national character will be restored.
Read more about the song and its inspiration on the America, My Home! page. I hope you enjoy it as well as its message. And I hope some of you will want to join the chorus of performers helping to carry its message across the land.
Character Matters will air live Sunday May 20, 2018. Call in with your questions or comments at (501) 258-8326.