How to Spot a Narcissist

Another piece of reflection from Ruddy Adam. What I personally fear, beyond my inner cougar-bunny psycho-narciss dilemmas, is the dynamics of the social average. Psychopaths and narcissists are old news, with normal people using ‘distance’ to disconnect from them. But constant connectivity, in your pocket, in the form of a phone way smarter than you are, can tip the scales and kill the distances. Not that the new normal of narcissism will last long. Just that the quality of life will dive – because minorities of compassionate people doing their best cannot physically support majorities of ego-maniacs doing their worst. A morrow where ‘everyone’ will be a politician, a tyrant, a diva, a superstar. Reminds me of Luc Besson’s ‘The Fifth Element’ – imagine yourself living in such a society.

How to Spot a Narcissist

“Narcissism is rampant in our current culture, from plastic surgery to reality TV to young people’s rising narcissism scores. Social Media is a narcissism enabler and a haven for narcissists to get the attention they so badly desire.” (From The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, by Jean Twenge)

The idea of narcissism comes from the Mythology of Narcissus, an ancient Greek who was so self-absorbed that, when he saw his reflection in a pool he stared at it until he fell into the water — and drowned.

That — folks — is being obsessed with oneself, with one’s physical appearance, and indeed defines self-absorption to a fineness. Certainly, narcissists are self-absorbed.

Nowadays, however, narcissists are best defined by the fact that they lust for what we call the Three As: Attention, Admiration, Affirmation. Everything in their lives is centered around obtaining these.

At the far end of the narcissist extreme they can be so fixated with satisfying their lust for the Three As that nothing else matters: health, wealth, love, friends, family. Only their looks and the image they want others to have of themselves do they put any effort in.

On the less extreme side, they still lust for the Three As, but are at times more able to control themselves; and therefore may be able to stay in a room of people without being the center of attention for at least a few minutes and not nod off. Or they may be able to have a conversation in which they are not the sole speaker without getting so bored they drop the phone while the other person is talking. You can imagine what the middle of the spectrum is like.

Now, it is a fact that all mentally healthy humans want some attention, admiration, and they have an inherent desire to be reaffirmed in their beliefs, their looks, their lives.

Indeed, mentally healthy humans have other natural desires — which narcissists do not have, such as to be loved, to be needed, to be helpful to others, to be conscientious (honor agreements and promises and friendships), to be interested in others (their lives, their health, their families). Narcissism comes in degrees, and some narcissists may have one or maybe a few of the above natural desires to a certain limited extent, but for the most part, these natural desires are absent in the mental makeup of narcissists.

Narcissists wake up centering their day around the core of how and where they can get the most attention. They must be around people who will audibly admire the image they have created of themselves, and they must be near people who will audibly affirm the beauty of their dyed, sprayed, and perfectly coiffed hair or their carefully painted faces or their specially chosen clothes — things designed by narcissists to draw attention to themselves.

Narcissists use every, single thing pertaining to themselves to get the attention they lust for: their hair, their faces, their clothes, their family, their children, their mates, their cars, their homes, their latest purchases — anything at all that is related to the narcissist.

This is lust — not need. That is the difference. Narcissists are not by any means normal, or mentally healthy. Their innards are quite absent insofar as feelings toward others — especially when it comes to people who won’t feed their lusts, or other narcissists who compete with them, or those who get in the way of their getting that fanatical lust for attention, admiration, and affirmation that drives them pacified. This lust that resides within narcissists is so powerful that mentally healthy humans can hardly relate to it.

Like psychopaths — who are not at all able to feel the pain and suffering of others — narcissists have little ability to feel, but the difference between the two in this respect is that narcissists can’t busy themselves with caring about others because that gets in the way of their receiving the attention they so lust for. That lust overrides all else in their lives: all other humans, supposed friends, family, mates, ethics, love, religion, relationships of all types.

At the more extreme end — and a defining difference between the two — psychopaths cannot feel. They are absolutely and utterly empty — completely devoid of the feelings for others that mentally healthy people have.

Why is it important that mentally healthy humans be able to spot a narcissist? Why — at least in the opinion of those of us who have studied these foreign creatures for almost three decades — should their existence and traits be a mandatory subject in schools?

First, all psychopaths have been narcissists — which ought to be enough reason that every mentally healthy person needs to be able to spot a narcissist. That’s the first thing that should put you on alert as to whether or not you are in the vicinity of an extremely dangerous monster — if someone (male or female) has the traits of a narcissist, because they could be a psychopath.

Second, I want to make it clear that all narcissists are not by any means psychopaths. They are not the destroyers of lives, businesses, and families that psychopaths are — but narcissists can cause people an awful lot of harm and suffering by their cold, callous, self-centered natures.

All normal humans suffer some degree of trauma from broken relationships, whether casual or close. Not narcissists! They move quickly away from any type of relationship in which they can’t use the people involved to satisfy their lusts. They do so without suffering the tiniest bit of trauma that normal, mentally healthy people would have from ending a relationship. There is simply no feeling in them at all for a relationship that breaks apart when it did not appease their lust for the Three As.

On top of all of the above, narcissists can be extremely sadistic, in that hurting others and making them feel bad can salve their sick, little selves. They are the bearers of bad news, the type of people who love to pass on to you negative things that others have said about you or information they believe will hurt you or cause you at least some discord.

If a sadistic narcissist knows you’re in the real estate business, and there is a crash, they are the type of people who will call you to find out how badly you’ve been burned — the worse things are going for you, the more joy it gives them. These negative monstrosities are never going to pass anything positive along to you. Why give you any good news when it doesn’t do them any good? They are Negative Neds and Nellies.

I think this is a good point to remember about the diseased creatures we’re studying: Narcissists are mild beasts of prey compared to your everyday, conning, thieving, sadistic psychopaths — who are the most horrid monstrosities on the planet.

Narcissists indeed hunt, as do psychopaths — but they do so to satisfy their lust for the Three As. Psychopaths hunt to rob, con, cheat, punish, and inflict pain — whether mental or physical.

Psychopaths are certainly narcissists — but they are a far, far different and more dangerous breed than the average narcissist who wakes up everyday and goes on the hunt for people who will give them the most attention.

Over the next few articles, my aim is to get to identifying psychopaths, partly because the number of types keep piling up, partly because TV and films have totally misrepresented and distorted who they are and what they are truly like, and finally because we have a few people who are in the process of ridding themselves of what could very well be psychopaths.

Had these mentally battered, beaten, and now scarred folks known the traits of a psychopath, which include narcissistic ones, that information may have saved them the serious harm these monsters have done to them. And let me tell you: these beasts are not yet finished — because they are still breathing.

As long as there is breath in the type of psychopath we’re speaking of, there is the highest of probability that they will damage someone every, single day.

We do not want that to be any of us!

I think the biggest surprise all of us get every time we go into the traits of psychopaths is the people we see who are right in front of us every day who have those very traits.

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