I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
We are surrounded with malignant narcissists.
So how come this disorder has hitherto been largely ignored? How come there is such a death of research and literature regarding this crucial family of mental health pathologies? Even mental health practitioners are woefully unaware of pathological narcissism and unprepared, not ready, to assist its victims.
Well, the said answer is that narcissism meshes well with our culture. Our civilization itself is narcissistic. There is a kind of narcissistic background radiation which permeates every social and cultural interaction. It is hard to distinguish the pathological narcissist from the merely self-assertive, self-confident, self-promoting, eccentric, ambitious or highly individualistic person which are so common in our society.
Hard sell, greed, envy, self-centeredness, exploitativeness, diminished empathy. They are all socially condoned features of Western civilization. Our society is atomized.
The outcome of individualism gone awry. Our society encourages narcissistic leadership and role models. The substructures of our culture, institutionalized religion, political parties, civic organizations, the media, corporations, and they are also fused with narcissism and pervaded by its pernicious outcomes.
The very efforts of materialism and capitalism upholds certain narcissistic traits such as reduced empathy, ambitiousness, exploitation, a sense of entitlement, and grandiose fantasies which are euphemistically called vision.
Narcissists are aided, abetted and facilitated by four types of people and institutions.
The adulators, the blissfully ignorant, the self-deceiving and those deceived by the narcissist. The adulators are fully aware of the nefarious and damaging aspects of the narcissist's behavior, but they believe that they are more than balanced by benefits. Benefits to themselves, benefits to the collective or to society at large.
The adulators engage in an explicit trade-off between some of their principles and values and their personal profit or the greater good. They believe that narcissists can and do contribute to society. They seek to help the narcissist, promote his agenda, shield him from harm, connect him with like-minded people, do his chores for him, and in general create the conditions and the environment for the narcissist's success.
This kind of alliance is especially prevalent in political parties, the government, multinationals, religious organizations and other hierarchical collectives.
Then there are the blissfully ignorant. These are simply unaware of the bad sides of the narcissist and make sure that they remain unaware. They look the other way. They pretend that the narcissist's behavior is normative or they turn a blind eye to his egregious misbehavior.
They are classic deniers of reality.
Some of these blissfully ignorant maintain a generally rosy outlook premised on the inbred benevolence of mankind. Others simply cannot tolerate dissonance, conflict and discord. They prefer to live in a fantastic world where everything is harmonious and smooth and evil is banished.
They react with rage to any information to the contrary and block it out instantly.
This type of denial is well evidenced in dysfunctional families, for instance, where the mother would cover up for the father and deny any wrongdoing on his part.
Then there are the self-disievers. These people are fully aware of the narcissist's transgressions and malice, his indifference, exploitativeness, lack of empathy and rampant grandiosity, but they prefer to displace the causes or the effects of such misconduct on his part. They attribute his pathology to externalities, he's going through a rough patch or they judge it to be temporary. They even go as far as accusing the victim for the narcissist's lapses or for defending themselves. They say she provoked him into abusing her.
In a feat of cognitive dissonance, these people, the self-disievers, deny any connection between the acts of the narcissist and their consequences. They say his wife abandoned him because she was promiscuous, not because of anything he did to her.
They are swayed by the narcissist's undeniable charm, intelligence and attractiveness, but the narcissist needs not invest resources in converting them to his cause. He does not deceive them. They are self-propelled into the abyss that is narcissism.
The inverted narcissist and co-dependence are self-disievers. Typically they are the deceived.
These are people or institutions or collectives deliberately taken for a premeditated right by the narcissist. He feeds them false information, manipulates a judgment, prefers plausible scenarios to account for his indiscretions, soils the opposition, charms them, appeals to their reason or to their emotions and promises the moon.
Again, the narcissist's incontrovertible powers of persuasion and his impressive personality play a role in this predatory ritual.
The deceived are especially hard to deprogram. They are often themselves encumbered with narcissistic traits and find it impossible to admit a mistake to mistake or to atone. They are likely to stay on with the narcissist to his end their bitter end.
Regrettably, the narcissist rarely pays the price for his offenses. His victims pick up the tab.
But even here, the malignant optimism of the abused never ceases to amaze. They still claim and believe that they can rescue the narcissist, heal the narcissist, cure the narcissist, change the narcissist with their love, their empathy.
But this is Lalalint. It's a kind of grandiose fantasy in the mirror, in reverse.