Tag Archives: narcissist

Saint or Sociopath? (or something in the middle?)

This week I was thinking about my recent interactions with people, some nice, some not so nice. I thought, on the one hand, there’s thoughtful, sensitive people, and on the other, there’s pushy, self-centered people. These were the two terms or labels that came to mind. I’ve given it a bit of further thought and in my time I can’t recall anyone I’ve known who was both, that is, sensitive & thoughtful AND pushy & self-centered. They seem like two poles on a continuum. Maybe a rare individual could theoretically harbor stripes of both personalities but it seems unlikely. Thoughtfulness and pushiness are such opposites. One seems to cancel out the other and if someone was sensitive half the time, say, and self-centered the other half, well, I’d start to suspect they had a personality disorder and that’s not what I’m considering here. (I’m also not contemplating when someone has the occasional “off” day or when a person acts “out of character” once in awhile.)

I realized though, that my two distinctions aren’t really the two poles. the two poles are further apart. Here’s what I imagined instead:

IMG_20200715_180855_kindlephoto-29433234

 

I’m not religious, hence the quotes on “SAINT” but I think most of us have a shared idea of what a “saint” is, someone of exemplary character who lives their life to the highest standards, basically a person whose existence makes the rest of us look bad in our shabby, little lives.😁 I have never personally met a “saint.” I do believe, as I have discussed on occasion in this blog, that sociopaths exist, and I do believe I met at least one in my life ( I expect that I probably encountered more but ran for the hills rather than stick around and confirm it). That said, I’ve met far more narcissists, a category I’d place somewhere in between “pushy, self-centered person” and “sociopath” on my simple line graph.

I don’t believe I’m exactly making earth-shattering discoveries here but rather that I’m not sure I’ve thought about people and personality types in quite this way before. It’s a useful way to consider people to me. I need to consider, or perhaps remember, when I encounter pushy, self-centered people, where they are on my own little line graph. It’s not insignificant that they fall closer to sociopath than saint. I’d like it if ALL my dealings were with people on the LEFT side of my continuum but I realize that’s beyond my control. However, when I DO have a say in it, that’s the side I want to pick from.

 

How a Narcissist Sees YOU

I was thinking about how I have a Trail of Narcissists in my past. I didn’t think of them – certain individuals – that way at the time(s) but after study and reflection, it became clear that I had a pattern of bringing such people into my life. (Now that I’m fully aware of it, I’m much better at spotting them – and moving along.)

Narcissism is a contemporary word in the sense that our current usage is different than it used to be; it has evolved. I grew up understanding it to be self-love in the gazing-at-your-reflection-“I’m-so-fabulous-way.” Which is not entirely accurate. The truer definition is more that of a person whose self-view encompasses both love and loathing. A person so consumed with their own feelings they can see no one else’s. Other people are props onto which the narcissist projects their (narrow) view. This is by way of explaining how this image came to mind:

You can try to get them to see you as a "square" all you like. Not gonna happen.

You can try to get them to see you as a “square” all you like. Not gonna happen.

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. (or Ms.) Narcissist

In my time I’ve known more than a person or two who were a strange combination of self-loathing and entitlement, the two bookends of narcissism. It seems counterintuitive at first – isn’t narcissism about grandiosity, extreme self involvement and self-love? – until you consider that self loathing is STILL self-involvement. The person telling you how stupid they are, what a fuck-up, such an idiot, who hates their life, and so on, is coming from a me, me, me point of view. They are STILL taking up your time and attention (whether you’d be using that time to do notably better things or merely watching Judge Judy is not the point). They are STILL not focusing on you or anyone else. Even a pitiful “I don’t deserve someone as good and wonderful as you,” if that particular tidbit is included, (or maybe “I’m not as strong/good/kind/honest/[insert word] as you are”), isn’t really about you at all, so much as a ploy for your sympathies and a pretty fair indication the narcissistic person sees those traits in you and aims to exploit them. Because what’s the next scene that’s supposed to follow? The part where you reassure them and build them up of course! (There goes your evening, afternoon, hour, day, whatever.) Whoever says, “Yeah, you are an idiot” and walks away?

Besides, if you deal with people like this, the flip side always shows itself in short order. They go right back to hurting people, doing selfish, oblivious things, running their own agendas, and taking real umbrage (or feigning cluelessness) if anybody points it out or has a problem with it. Bring up a problem or concern and watch how fast you’re suddenly in a conversation that is once again about their woes, interests, or issues.

One of the typical gimmicks of the narcissist is to do whatever they feel like whenever they feel like it – no matter who it impacts – yet act as if everything is normal. Perfectly designed to throw other people off their game and make them question what they know. The best defense is a good, narcissistic offense, no? The people around them are the ones feeling something is very wrong with this picture: Did he really do that? Did she really say that? Is this the same person who was crying and going on about how “rotten” they are? How they wanted to be different? Oh my yes it is.