The Lying and Deception Spectrum
The lying and deception spectrum is vast. It ranges from mere wishful thinking to near delusionality. And most narcissists fall within the spectrum somewhere. Moreover, grandiose narcissists are notorious for their flagrant disregard of genuine truth. Traditional explanations for this have finally shown their weaknesses. By and large, narcissists aren’t oblivious or in a true psychological state of denial. And they don’t lie primarily because the truth would crush their fragile sense of self. Rather, they lie out of defiance – a stubborn refusal to be subordinate to anyone or anything.
The Grandiose: Legends In Their Own Minds
Grandiose narcissists are a special kind. (See also: pp. in Character Disturbance.) One famous researcher called them “legends in their own minds.” After interviewing thousands, he came to a startling conclusion. For some disturbed characters “thinking makes it so.” In other words, reality or truth is what they say it is. For them, there is no reality other than the one they surmise. Perhaps that’s one reason they tend to do so much mental filtering. (See: Obstinate Denial and Mental Filtering.) You might challenge their view, but they’ll have nothing of it. They see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. Nothing and no one will change their view of things. In fact, the put all their energy into persuading others to see things their way. That’s part of inducing the gaslighting effect. (See also: pp. in In Sheep’s Clothing.)
At some point, the lying (including lying to oneself) of a grandiose narcissist can border on true delusionality. That’s the extreme end of the lying and deception spectrum. Now, we’re not talking about delusionality inflicted on a person by a brain that’s gone biochemically out of control. Rather, we’re talking about what can happen when a person stubbornly refuses to reckon with reality because it would mean changing who they are and how they prefer to operate in the world. And we’re not talking about genuine psychological denial, either. We’re talking about lying to yourself so often and so egregiously that you’re beginning to believe your own fictions. I find it heartbreaking that so many therapists fail to appreciate these distinctions.
Standing Your Ground and Keeping Your Sanity
The secret to dealing with covert-aggressors and manipulators is in how you respond to their tactics. Recognize the tactics, for sure. But don’t be swayed by them. Regard them for what they truly are: attempts to make you doubt your instincts and to capitulate. But when someone’s done something clearly harmful, the ways they attempt to justify it are irrelevant. Most of us instinctively know that. But under the pressure of tactics, we sometimes fail to stand our ground. And that’s because the more ardently a person pushes their view, the more we might tend to doubt. Eventually, you can begin to doubt your own sense of reality, if not your very sanity. (See also: Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity.) Trusting your gut is key to personal empowerment.
Hope for the New Year
I’ll be taking some time off, but will return to posting the week of Jan 7. I pray the coming year is one of greater awareness for all and less character dysfunction. I plan to keep doing my part. And you can catch my well-wishes and other thoughts on the lying and deception spectrum on this week’s Character Matters.
I also hope and pray that all consider and recommend Essentials for the Journey. It’s my most substantive work to date, carrying my deepest hope for the conversion of hearts.