Client Journal: Narcissism

Off the top of my head, in Greek mythology, I know that Narcissus was a good looking hunter who was very proud and didn’t ever appreciate those who loved him. He was then cursed to experience unrequited love. One day he looked in the water and saw his own reflection. He fell in love with his own reflection and wasted to death from not being able to leave his reflection.

I found this on Wikipedia: Narcissism: Egotism, vanity, conceit or simple selfishness. In a social group, denote elitism or indifference to the plight of others.

I also read that narcissists tend to “have a view that is contrary to reality. Views of self are greatly exaggerated, perceives themselves as special people. Selfish. Tend to demonstrate lack of interest in warm caring interpersonal relationships. They blame the situation rather than self, and use relationships to serve one’s own self. Usually related to un-empathetic, inconsistent childhood interactions that lead to the individual to feel the need to overcompensate in adult life.”

“7 Deadly Sins”

Shamelessness: Inability to process shame in healthy ways.
Magical Thinking: See themselves as perfect by using distortion, use projection to dump shame onto others.
Arrogance: When they feel deflated, they re-inflate themselves by diminishing, debasing or degrading others.
Envy: Secure sense of superiority in the face of others’ ability by using contempt to minimilize.
Entitlement: Hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Any failure to comply will be considered an attack on their superiority and the perpetrator is considered to be an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
Exploitation: Use others without regard for feelings or interests. Sometimes subservience is assumed.
Bad Boundaries: Don’t recognize that others are separate, not extensions of self. Feel that others exist to meet their own needs or shouldn’t exist at all.

Masterson Subtypes:
Closeted – Deflated, inadequate self perception, greater awareness of emptiness within and seeks constant approval from others. Need to please others.

Exhibitionistic – Grandiose view of self, little to no awareness of emptiness, seeks perfect admiration.

This was an extremely eye opening assignment! I had NO IDEA how narcissistic I am! When I read the 7 deadly sins, I realized that they all fit me to a T. I do everything on that list! Whenever I feel ashamed, I criticize myself, I put my own stuff on other people when I feel low. And this comes out especially if I get cut from an audition, I have to seek out some outside reason why I didn’t get the part (like when I was telling you about the Madonna audition and I said how one dancer got the role because she knew the choreographer), and because I don’t have any boundaries, I end up exploiting people I care about and then I am surprised when I get called out on it because I don’t think I am doing anything wrong.

I would definitely say that I am a closeted narcissist. I am always trying to please people by trying to relate myself to some experience that I’ve really never been through before. For example, when my friend A was telling me how she ended an on again off again physical relationship with a guy that she had genuine feelings for, I tried to compare that to me telling a guy (whom I only saw maybe 4 times in the past 4 months or so) that I couldn’t be with him because he said he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. Those two situations have nothing to do with the other, but I tried to relate them because I wanted please her by saying, “See? I know what you’re going through!” When really, I don’t. I was too insecure to just say, “That really sucks what you’re going through and I’m sorry. But I feel like a freak and a loser and sad that I can’t relate to that at all, because the idea of being with a man scares me right now.” That was what I was really feeling and thinking as I was listening to her. What is hardest for me the most right now is accepting that this is who I am without going into judgment and criticism about it. I don’t want to accept this part of myself. It’s dark and it ugly. But I know I have to. It is part of who I am.

Response: Most of us have a narcissist in us. What is important is that we learn about who and why she/he exists in us. Most often the narcissist is from not having a Self, a fully realized soul. The person is immature and young in their needs. When you can feel the feelings of the narcissist  then you can hear her call, her need, the expression, what needs to be healed. But most never see the narcissist, the victim, victimizer, the seducer; these are all part of the narcissist, the wounded child. That is the part that shocks us. The part of us that has become the exact thing we accuse other of being to us. The example you gave about your friend A was a good one. Yes, receiving and hearing another without comparing, competing or condemning ourselves or others is a start.  Awareness is the first step in change, non-judgment the second.  Witnessing and feeling, expressing and having compassion for another and ourselves is next.

There is a turn for every season, a balance, a boundary. Each situation needs another part of ourselves that fits the response. If you need attention, just ask for it. If you want to give another attention, get out of the way and give your attention and don’t take the spotlight. These actions and responses take practice. Remember, before we can give in any selfless way we need to heal our child, and sometimes as we are healing the child, we need to find an adult that can be in the world. It all takes consciousness, awareness, choice and practice. I am glad that you realize you need to accept where you are at without judgment…that is the best place to learn about yourself.

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