by Roxanne Tellier
Richard Nixon gave a defiant concession speech in 1962 that ended with …. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”
The incredible narcissism and entitlement in that statement, coming from a man that was lucky not to have been tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail, still sends a frisson up my spine.
Had Nixon not heeded the potentates of his own party who advised him to resign, he would surely have been impeached by the House and removed from office by a trial in the Senate for his complicity in the Watergate burglary and ensuing coverup. As it was, 69 of his cronies were indicted, and 48 of those people were convicted and penalized.
“Watergate came to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration, including bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious; ordering investigations of activist groups and political figures; and using the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service as political weapons.” (Wikipedia)
Man – trump’s reign of terror is not just history rhyming, that’s a whole poetry slam right there.
The common denominator? An overwhelming self-entitlement, a belief that their acts and place in history should be above the law, a willingness to use the most powerful position in America like Negan used Lucille in The Walking Dead … and malignant narcissism.
To a narcissist, the absolute worst thing that they can threaten you with is their absence. They can’t imagine the horror your life would be without them in it. Their message is “How will you cope without me in your world? I am the sun of your universe, I cannot conceive of a world without me in it, and neither should you!”
The world is filled with narcissists, not just in politics, but in big business, the sciences, the entertainment world, and in our homes.
(“Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn’t known, some researchers think that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overprotective or neglectful may have an impact. Genetics and neurobiology also may play a role in development of narcissistic personality disorder.” Mayo Clinic, 2017.)
No one can definitively say what causes someone to believe that they are more important than everyone else that they know. Nonetheless, the disorder seems to be growing exponentially.
While full-bodied narcissistic personality disorder is still a fairly unusual diagnosis, the rise of reality tv, social media, and the glorification of this type of personality has upped the ante. Modern narcissism isn’t so much about the disorder as it is about the rise in narcissistic traits.
It’s been a slippery slope for those with the tendency to self-promote. Remember when we used to laugh at those people who never saw a meal they couldn’t find a way to photograph, glorify and show their friends and followers on Facebook? When Instagram came along, narcissists were in their glory, showing off their clothing, homes, and vacations, all so that those with less would feel envious.
The more we abandoned any pretence of humility, the more the spotlight shone on our deficiencies and perceived imperfections. By 2015 the waiting lists for cosmetic dentistry, plastic surgery, and alternative ‘enhancements’ were stretching around the block and two streets over.
Like needy children, we wanted everyone to ‘watch me, mommy!’ as we posed, sang, danced, and twirled before our imagined audiences. But that was just the beginning.
Many narcissists in the public eye choose to display a lack of caring for others, and a disdain for empathy, which neatly coexists with a glorification of one’s own talents and popularity. Even the relevance of celebrity deaths, for instance, can only be understood in the context of their own loss.
When these people are informed of terrible tragedies – babies in cages at the border, the Charlie Hebdo attack, millions starving and dying from thirst and bombs in far flung countries – their concern is not for those in misery, but rather, in how to best spin their public reactions to switch the focus from those suffering, to themselves, as the ‘real victims.’ No matter how tragic an event, the narcissist only sees the calamity in the context of their own reactive wretchedness.
We used to be able to shrug off most garden variety narcissists as laughable, childish, needy creatures. But the tendency to believe that one is extraordinary (along with the obvious problem, which is that most people are simply and resoundingly NOT special) is increasing by the day.
The narcissist’s beliefs are unrealistic, but in a world where a financially and morally bankrupt ‘celebrity’ malignant narcissist can become president of the United States, how exactly do you define ‘unrealistic’?
I can’t swear that the rise of trump is tied to a rise in narcissism in North America, though I do see a through line in the rise of populist leaders, who tend to speak to the basest of our individual appetites. Three recent studies would seem to agree with that premise.
“A team of psychologists and political scientists from the universities of Kent (UK), Warsaw (Poland) and Maryland (USA) found in three studies that national collective narcissism was linked to support for populism. In the UK, collective narcissism predicted support for Brexit, in the US it predicted support for Donald Trump, and in Poland it predicted support for the populist Law and Justice party.
The study found that collective narcissism, i.e. an unrealistic belief in the greatness of the nation, increased in response to group feelings of being disadvantaged, especially when this was long lasting.
The researchers suggest that the narrative of relative disadvantage, fuelled by populist leaders, might reinforce a ‘defensive and destructive’ national perspective. Narcissistic beliefs about the in-group greatness are a way to compensate for feelings of being worse off than other groups.” (Science Daily.com)
I don’t even play a political scientist on TV. But what I DO know, is that, in the age of COVID-19, narcissists can be extremely dangerous to your health.
During this pandemic, people have been asked to observe a few simple health precautions, to protect themselves and others. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay about 2 metres away from others.
That shouldn’t be that big a deal, or terribly hard to do. After all, all the wearing of a mask says is that the wearer recognizes their membership in their community.
But for some, covering their mouth and nose with cloth or other semipermeable material when near strangers in public settings inspires fear of an over-reaching government, and a denial of their ‘rights.’
Yes, this whole pandemic thing is a major pain in the butt. Yes, the mask can feel hot and itchy, and make your glasses fog up, while making those of us with lung issues feel claustrophobic and shorter of breath than usual.
But for many of us, there’s no real issue there. If wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and keeping surfaces sanitized to prevent a viral infection is necessary, then that’s what we’ll do. It’s not 1865, and we’re not Dr Joseph Lister trying to sell his discovery that washing hands could allow mothers to survive childbirth; this is 2020, and we should all be intelligent and mature enough to follow simple precepts that have been the norm for cleanliness and safety for over a century and a half.
But those pesky narcissists don’t think in terms of what is best for all, because they are emotionally immature. They believe that their ‘rights’ make them exempt from social norms, even during a pandemic, and they lack empathy, which leads them to believe that no one’s health but their own is of any concern.
Being a narcissist is to live inside a bubble of need and entitlement. Without the slightest concept of altruism, the life and death worries of others are just not a concern. Even when they are told that they will have to continue to live in a ‘new normal’ that means that they can’t get out to have fun with their friends, even as the European Union and other countries put the USA on a no entry list, and even as people continue to become infected .. and die … from a virus that other countries are able to control through sane public health regulations, they continue to believe that their own personal rights and freedoms supersede the personal rights and freedoms of others.
Entitlement. My rights over yours. My needs being more needy and important than yours. My rights to be the victim superseding the actual hospitalization and death of the more vulnerable. And if granny or mummy dies, it’s all about my loss, not her death, cuz poor little me is now an orphan!
It’s emotional bullying, and in many cases, physical bullying. The armed militia groups dressed in army fatigues that stormed government offices to demand their rights were trampling ALL over the rights of everyone in their path. But narcissism … it’s a hell of a drug.
People who enjoy the rights, freedoms and privileges of our society do not have the right to refuse to acknowledge that other people have those same rights, freedoms and privileges.
And there’s really nothing sadder than an over privileged narcissist finally discovering the very hard way that their personal world is not the centre of the universe.
PS… NEW Randy Rainbow! 😉
Are YOU a narcissist? Why not take this simple test and see!?