Environments can be structured in a way that promote – even reward narcissistic behavior. Narcissism was once regarded as both an aberration and a significant disturbance or disorder of character. But a culture of entitlement, permissiveness, and relativism has helped make it more the norm. And sadly, in far too many aspects of modern life, narcissism has actually become quite adaptive.
Narcissists get “stuck” at the egocentric stage of emotional, psychological, and spiritual development. And their self-absorption keeps them from paying attention to and learning from what only caring, intimate relations with others can teach them.
Thanksgiving means more than a single holiday. Responsible people render it daily in their undertakings. But in this age of rampant narcissism and entitlement, cultivating gratitude is difficult. So, far too few give thanks with their actions. Rather, they take, use, exploit, and injure – all for their own gratification. And they do such things without compunction because they feel entitled.
I have much for which to be grateful. Your validation and promotion of my work has always inspired and sustained me. It’s impossible to say how much such support means to me. So, from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you!”
Relationships with heartless characters follow a typical course. You get seduced by the tremendous interest someone shows in you. And most importantly, you mistake the interest for caring. Only later do you realize how utterly expendable you are, especially once you’ve outlived your usefulness.
Brash and vulgar narcissists naturally offend us. So, we naturally want to keep our distance and watch our backs. But charming narcissists are in some ways more dangerous. Like I say in In Sheep’s Clothing, dealing with them can be like getting whiplash. You only fully realize who they are and what they’ve done to you after the fact.
Researchers now know the reason disturbed characters have a hard time developing a healthy sense of obligation. When you feel entitled, you simply can’t feel obliged. You have to feel indebted before you can feel obliged. And you have to be deeply grateful before you can feel indebted.
Culture and character have an intertwined and interdependent relationship. And they impact each other in some very dynamic ways. More character-impaired individuals now populate the culture. And they have “enabled” the erosion of principles once widely revered and promoted.
It’s hard for me to think of a human dilemma I’ve encountered that didn’t have at its root a lack of positive regard for a person and the preciousness of their life.
Grandiose narcissists so wantonly use and abuse because they have little heart. They lack empathy. And they have little shame. And the more lacking they are in these things, the more easily they exploit.
We live in an exhibitionistic, self-aggrandizing, and self-indulgent society. It’s also largely an everyone for himself or herself society. It’s hard to become a conscientious, obligated, civil, and generous person in such an environment.