Narcissism, the focus of the current series of articles, has been recently recognized as not so much a distinct condition but rather an important dimension of personality (see also: Personality and Character Disorders: The Narcissism Dimension) that factors into a wide variety of character disturbances. Many know how problematic it can be to have a narcissitic individual in their life. But there are several aspects of this character trait that can be captivating at first, luring many an individual into a relationship they later regret.
Perhaps nothing is a “attractive” in another person as confidence. This is especially true for individuals who lack confidence themselves. Folks who project a “can do” persona and who seem devoid of the anxieties and insecurities so often hold people back can appear to hold the keys to success and prosperity, which many potential relationship partners find quite alluring. But narcissists are more than confident. They’re often grandiose (as mentioned in an earlier article, narcissism comes in two varieties – the “vulnerable” or more “neurotic,” compensatory type and the “grandiose” type – the latter type being far more prevalent than the former in the modern era – see: Narcissism Revisited in Light of New Research and Two Types of Narcissism and How to Tell the Difference). Unfortunately, sometimes folks are drawn to what they see as confidence in someone when that confidence is masking an underlying grandiosity – a grandiosity that doesn’t become fully evident until later in the relationship.
The grandiosity some narcissists have stems largely from what and who they value. There are some things they value too much and some very important things for which they pay too little regard. They’re often far too enamored of their innate talents and abilities (e.g., their intelligence, their physical appearance, their shrewdness, etc.). And because they claim ownership of these nature-given (or God-given) attributes, they can easily get a “big head” about them (While I was one of the first mental health professionals to conjecture about this dynamic in my books In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance, there’s now solid scientific evidence for it and how it fosters grandiosity). Despite what they might outwardly profess, there’s no room either in their ego-inflated mind or in their heart for a “higher power” or powers at work in their lives and contributing to their success (I speak to this issue at some length in The Judas Syndrome and in the article: Egotists: “Above” the Need for a Governing Higher Power). So they don’t factor into their successes the fortuitousness of circumstances, the support of their partners, etc. In their minds, everything they possess or have achieved is all due to them and their special abilities. Relationship partners usually find this out the hard way, after they’ve been taken for granted, taken advantage of, or exploited. And sometimes they’re tempted to fault themselves for being taken in by the confidence that attracted them in the first place. But confidence itself was never the problem. It’s the narcissist’s grandiosity and disregard for everyone and everything else that creates all the problems. Unfortunately that grandiosity can be masked by what appears as simply confidence. And having been drawn primarily to what appears merely self-assuredness, a less than confident soul can easily find themselves in a situation they later regret.
I’ll have more to say about how narcissism factors into several character disturbances and disorders in next week’s post.
Announcement: My first monthly professional training workshops for Cross Country Educational Seminars begin in January 2016. The first workshop locations will be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Omaha Nebraska, and Urbandale Iowa, on Jan 19, 20, and 21 respectively. While these workshops are designed for professionals, anyone interested may attend as an observer (although you should beware that professional workshops are typically priced much higher than those designed for the general public). Additional details about these and the future workshops for the coming year will be posted in a few days on the Workshops and Seminars page. PLEASE NOTE! THE WORKSHOPS AND SEMINARS PAGE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH DETAILED INFORMATION. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, VISIT THE CROSS COUNTRY EDUCATION SEMINARS WEBSITE.
Character Matters will again be a live broadcast this Sunday at 7 pm Eastern, so I can take your calls.