Pathological pride is vanity on steroids. It’s more than just being enamored of one’s appearance or qualities. It’s over-valuing oneself to the point of ugly self-aggrandizement.Pathologically prideful people can barely conceive of a “higher power.” And they rarely find it in their hearts to serve one. (See: Narcissists Can’t Recognize a Higher Power.) (See also: Egotists: Above the Need for a Governing Higher Power.)
The Heart of Narcissistic Character Pathology
I always make one crucial point about narcissistic character pathology in my training workshops. And I use an analogy from the real estate world to make the point. Realtors will tell you that only 3 things really matter: location, location, and location. That adage emphasizes that when it comes to a property’s value, nothing matters as much as location. Accordingly, I remind my audience that the 3 things that really matter to narcissistic characters are: position, position, and position.” (See also: p. 103 in Character Disturbance, p. 63 in In Sheep’s Clothing.) In other words, the pathologically vain among us hold only one value dear: the position they hold over others. And, of course, the position they ardently seek and feel entitled to hold is the superior one.
Rejecting and Blocking the Light
An infinitely loving energy grants us all life and breath. But we have a choice about recognizing this and returning love. And while we have the power to honor the source, we also have the power to ignore or reject it. But why would we do such a thing? Pride.
It’s easy to become full of ourselves. It can happen insidiuously as we build our egos. And this is perhaps life’s greatest paradox, because we need our egos to navigate this broken, often toxic world. Still, it’s easy for our egos to get bent out of shape. We can come to think too little of ourselves, often at the hands of nefarious characters who gaslight. (See also: How Manipulative Characters Gaslight.) But we can also come to think too much of ourselves. And that pathological pride happens when we become so impressed with who we are and what we’ve done that there isn’t any room left in our hearts for the Source that made it all possible. (See: The Judas Syndrome.)
Ignoring and rejecting the loving energy within is a decision. Blocking the light capable of flowing from it is a decision, too. And pathological pride prompts these decisions. Malignantly narcissistic characters have a massive sense of entitlement. They readily forget to whom and to what they are inherently indebted. Moreover, they have a stubborn, prideful determination to kneel to nothing or no one. Remember, only three things matter to them: position, position, and position. And the pathologically prideful person simply abhors the notion of subordination.
(Some still believe fear and trauma lie at the root of the narcissist’s choice. And some still believe the choice is mostly unconscious. But there’s ample evidence that while these notions are sometimes valid, most of the time, these days, they are not!)
Shining the Light on Character and its Importance
I’ve spent most of my professional life talking about the importance of character. And as many of you know, I’ve been laboring over one final book on the topic. I hope to have some announcements soon on both the new podcasts of Character Matters and the upcoming book.
9 thoughts on “Pathological Pride Rejects and Blocks the Light”
I felt compelled to comment on this article as it is so pertinent to me personally at this time.
I care for a geriatric person with grandiose NPD. What with everything, his position in the world has slipped and he is unable to gain the worship, adoration and continual reinforcement of his status as a ‘legend’.
This has resulted in an exponential escalation in grandiosity, fantasy oriented behaviour and pathological lying, gaslighting and triangulation, and frequency of bouts of narcissistic rage. In short, he has become impossible!
He currently spends all his time reading over old articles about himself, and sorting through old photographs of himself – having them scanned and reprinted and giving them out with his autograph on them to tradespeople!
His well-worn mantra, “don’t they know who I am?”, simply must be answered in the positive if one wishes to avoid a burst of displaced rage that is deeply personally offensive and usually results in some form of punishment for the messenger.
He fails to see the irony in a new article about to be published entitled, “The Ten Commandments of (his name)”!
I’d be very interested in anything you have to say Dr Simon, about what is to be expected in the extremely narcissistic in their geriatric years.
I always very much appreciate your measured and thoughtful approach to writing about such characters. Thank you.
Thank you for another great article, I’m looking forward to the podcast and new book.
Dr. Simon, after reading your post, I realised that am not sure what you mean by the metaphor “shining the light” and what exactly it means in practice.
Please allow me to elaborate on what I conclude from this and the former post, and please let me know if I missed or misunderstood the point.
Am not sure either what character disturbance means in the context of religion. Does it always implies one’s rejection of religious faith? Is it always pride to reject faith or maybe one’s family and cultural background and other societal factors, such as education and scientism as the “religion of our era”, can also contribute to it?
I tend to agree that many of the disturbed characters do reject faith, but not only because they reject kneeling in front of God, but because they DO want others to be kneeling in front of them. In their self-centered universe, they a priori reject the idea of being peers, hence they see those who don’t kneel in front of them as a threat, ie as those who want them to kneel. Again, they can’t escape the predator-prey dichotomy. What the evil choose to NOT see is the other as another human being, as a suffering, oppressed, exploited, to be helped individual who would need their mercy.
Here is however, the rub: the oppressors are not suffering human beings – such is the ultimate discovery of your work – but conscious predators who even find great joy in hunting. They experience none of these hence are not motivated by suffering, no fear, no distress, no anxiety, no neurotic traits. or what I am missing on this? They are in control. They hide what they are up to, they are silent, they are smiling, they are collected. They hide their oversized pride. They are hiding – and show their shrinking image – because they are hunting. Meanwhile their preys are loud and pretend to be bigger than themselves. They want to show their strength to scare away the hunter. They are loud. Such victims and to-be-victims are often mislabeled – often deliberately by their predators – as “narcissists”. The question is, why then the symptom is looked at, why not the causes and motives? Why is this regression from the useful paradigm into a potentially or even actually victim-blaming stance?
Then there is the notion, with a fundamental logical and moral flaw, that those who reject equality among us, and would see others as their actual or potential preys, should still be viewed as our “equals” as those who need our help. It is the same as telling the mice to help that poor cat out of her trouble of wanting to catch us for breakfast. It is the same as contributing the same moral judgment to a serial killer as to their murdered victims. It is collapsing your brilliant paradigm of dividing the traits of a predator and of a prey into one big bracket again.
Maybe blocking the light then means rejecting equality among us? Equality in front of God is the main principle of a human society that is governed is constitutional democracy, was established on the Bible, because Christ declared all people equal, and even as God He offered His friendship to us. He called us friends, not servants – His words, not mine. When evil folk reject the light is because they want to impose their own imagined “divinity” above Christ and above all humans. The evil won’t accept equality, brotherhood and fraternity, rather, they insist that the elite minority vs the mob division would remain in place.
This is the ultimate reason why Christianity is a main target in our globalist society: because the rulers of the world are interested in forever sustaining such division between a minority who would rule the majority and in the sort of majority who would be willing to kneel – as an infinitely exploitable and manipulable “mob” – in front of the minority.
As you point out also here, being evil is a choice. Likewise, for someone being good and decent, is another choice. But as long as “goodness” (as the source of light) is defined as either being the victim of or being a silent enabler of the evil, under such paradigm good character comes down be an accomplice of the evil’s work. Under such condition there is no chance for mankind to survive, because then the evil, without an iota of resistance, will very soon manage to take the destruction of humanity to a final level.
The Covid-19 scam and related measures – as the largest global crime against humanity (term used by an international committee of decent lawyers and medical experts) – is a clear enough indication of that purpose.
I don’t know that COVID-19 is a scam. Illness is illness. But what I do know is the psychopaths in power say, ‘never let a crisis go to waste.’
Hollowing out agencies and powers that be to fight pandemics and other crisis. Not having universal health care in the USA. All sorts of things. Rejecting the idea of universal basic income.
Or even simply temporarily paying out decent amounts of stimulus money to everyday folk instead of the predators in power milking it for added riches for themselves. Other countries have done it. Not in the USA though.
Look at how the powers that be have opportunistically utilized this crisis to make so many millions of already vulnerable folks even more marginalized and vulnerable. We have no universal health care. Unions are almost non-existent. The gig economy is so evil and predatory. College debt locks people in from early on. So many people living a treadmill life. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. Health care is dangled as a carrot in front of already exploited workers.
Those in power are almost invariably those who should not be in power. Decent folk rarely rise to power because the predators easily edge them out.
I’m no pastor, but perhaps the directive to “let your light shine” should be kept in the Biblical understanding, and that Biblical context as I understand it (again, I’m no pastor, so I could be wrong) is to let your light shine before men in being Christian, God-fearing, loving good (which also implies hating evil) and to hopefully bring others into faith.
Faith is ultimately a gift and the work of God, but we have missionaries out spreading the Word and sharing the Good News of the Gospel in so many parts of the world. I think about things like going and inviting your neighbors to attend your church services. Or talking with others about Christ and sharing the Gospel that way.
I could be wrong in my understanding and application of the “let your light shine” verse of The Bible.
God also says to be “wise as serpents” so it is good and right to be shrewd when dealing with evildoers. Which is needed when around predatory folk.
Lo and behold, I read Chapter 5 of Matthew last night. Verses 13-16, especially.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lam and put it under a basket, but in a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)
It may seem stupid in worldly wisdom to be openly good people and to continue to be good and decent people, but what is the alternative? To take after evil? To learn the wicked ways of evil people? So, let’s live for God. Sure, we’ll be targeted and persecuted by the wicked, as was Jesus, as they hated and sought to destroy Him, too, but we live for God.
We don’t need to appease wicked people. On the contrary, evil should not be appeased. If married to an abuser, there is no need to continue to be abused and to remain in a non-marriage. Protecting ourselves. Being wary of men, careful with whom we associate. Those things are good, too. Hate evil, love good. And live our lives for God, being good people, the salt and light.
Thinking of you victims/survivors who read and comment on this blog.
In my understanding, or at least in my experience, the central question within this topic is not if an abused person, or anyone for that matter, should stay a well-meaning decent character.
Decent characters, ie who are respectful, honest, warm, kind, truthful, just, compassionate to begin with, would find it impossible to turn themselves into abusers, ie manipulative, controlling, selfish, insensitive, greedy, cruel, empty vessels.
By the same token, (and one of the main points am trying to convey), just like decent folk typically don’t turn into abusers, actual abusers, ie who fight on purpose for the sake of taking advantage of others, typically won’t turn into decent characters either.
It follows from above that the decent folk’s ability or willingness to keep “shining the light” won’t make a difference as to changing anyone within the disturbed character category. Only God Himself can do such a change that.
Then comes the assumed Biblical demand that the abused should keep loving their abusers. The main point is that the idea that such would be the meaning of someone to remain a good character to keep being abused and yet shining the light, is another myth which then makes matters for the victims several dimensions worse. Such demand creates more abusers, it enables the abuse itself and validates the abusers, while further torturing and invalidating the victims of abuse, to the degree that eventually the very fact of remaining under abuse will keep the victim in constant depression. In many cases being constantly exposed to abuse by loved ones leads to victims’ chemical destruction of the brain, actual mental disorders, suicidal thoughts and suicide.
Desperation, depression and all disorders resulting from abuse is not a sin and not a crime, hence preaching or discipline is definitely not a cure for the victims. It is even worse, when part of the healing is to explain the point of view of your abusers – that is when the victim is further abused by their “healer”.
The only cure for depression is to find someone who really cares about you, listens to you with real understanding and responds to your pain with real compassion. If that does not happen, the bottom line is to achieve separation from the abuser, in every sense of the word, and to find a community that reinforces and spiritually validates the separation.
Recommend movies “Mr Jones” (w Richard Gere) and “Shine” (w Geoffrey Rush) and “My Old Lady” (Kevin Kline)
The Bible is filled with passages referring to decent folk’s physical, emotional and spiritual separation from the evil-doers.
“If the home is worthy, let your peace rest on it; but if it is not, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not welcome you or heed your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.”
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
King James Version
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
False humility is even more insulting than pride.