These days we have all kinds of ways to explain people’s dysfunction. And while there are indeed times when a perfectly healthy person’s biochemistry suddenly and for no apparent reason goes kaflooey, and cases where unpredictable tragedy so traumatizes that it temporarily impairs even the most well-adjusted person, more often, a person’s character not only predisposes the problems they experience in life but also exacerbates those problems when they occur.
Narcissistic grandiosity is mostly a matter of exaggeration – especially exaggerated self-importance and capability. And, when such grandiosity goes unchecked, it can lead to much bigger problems.
At the heart of narcissism of the grandiose type lies a lack of reverence. Reverence for what? Anything or anyone other (or “bigger”) than self. Grandiose narcissists find nothing outside of themselves worth revering, so they have trouble having empathy.
Character matters more than ever in our age of widespread narcissism – a culture of entitlement, relativism, and permissiveness that has kept too many from outgrowing their infantile egocentricity and developing the character necessary to be socially responsible.
An unfortunate number of folks bring all sorts of pain into their lives because they neither love themselves enough nor know how to love themselves properly. But self-love can be pathological, too, which is what the narcissism spectrum is all about.
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.
Relationships naturally grow in strength, depth, and wholesomeness in the absence of character disturbance. And when our most important relationships are solid, we can expect the makings of a healthy community. It all starts with character.
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!”
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.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about disturbed characters it’s this: They all-too-readily take ownership of what they haven’t earned or merited.