Something has been said in America!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of America’s dirty little secrets have been “unveiled” for the world to see. Issues related to racism, sexism, religious hypocrisy, materialism, greed and narcissism have been exposed. I have been aware of the term narcissism for a long time after diagnosing a family member using my educational psychology book from college. I can distinctly remember telling a tribe member that the person had narcissistic personality disordered traits. America the beautiful is currently being governed by an individual, 45, with extremely high indicators pointing to this same personality disorder but he is not the only person in the country. This realization led me on a journey of really researching and understanding the narcissistic personality (characteristics, signs and impact on humanity).
There are grandiose and covert narcissists (NARC) even though most people tend to only recognize the obviously arrogant individual. Both versions exhibit (men and women) an extreme sense of pride. Some speculate that martyrdom (more covert) is pride based on “overly giving” and narcissism (grandiose) is pride based on “overly taking”. Perhaps each description is the flip side of the same coin. They are often unconsciously drawn to each other in order for them to work out their issues. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. NPD individuals must also demonstrate the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 behaviors:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- A need for excessive admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally exploitive behavior
- A lack of empathy
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
- A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
America seems to be been invaded by narcissists but how sway? Perhaps all of the indoctrination systems provided the breeding ground for the rise of this personality disorder. It was during the 1980’s that our societal indoctrination spewed the virtues of materialism and greed as good. Hollywood movies (“Wall Street”, “The Great Gatsby,”, “Scarface”, “The God Father Trilogy”) showcasing extreme wealth were glorified within our society culturally becoming aspirational for everyone even individuals from improvised communities. America has been the country where one’s destiny is not solely determined by fate or the caste system. Even if poor, this country has allowed some through handwork, energy and effort – – plus luck or grace – – to grasp the fruits of wealth and opportunity available within its rich borders. Everyone grew up seeing the vast wealth being portrayed via the propaganda tv, sports and entertainment programming. We all hoped to live the “good life” filled with beautiful cribs (homes), cars, jewelry etc. accompanied with beautiful women and men. Perhaps some never questioned the legitimacy of these trappings of success as authentic indicators of real wealth. A tribe member used to say, “All that glitters isn’t gold”. Many people have now gained the wisdom that material wealth alone, even if it’s some form of “Fuchi Gucci”, is not a guarantee of trUe happiness in life.
Our familial indoctrination system provided the second breeding ground for narcissism allowing for the necessary traumas to wound our children in the right way to invalid their core selves. Most parents and caretakers do the very best they can but they also are the key folks who can do the most damage. In the familial indoctrination system, it appears that narcissists are both born and made. Most children arrive with some narcissistic traits. They don’t care about being politically correct in terms of their needs, wants and desires. Some children seemingly, however, develop a false sense of entitlement generated when their core self is invalidated by loved ones or they are over indulged (spoiled) to the point where they develop a false sense of superiority regardless of earning the status. Parents and guardians are given the responsibility of teaching empathy and compassion for others to their children. When this is not done in a heathy way via modeling or reinforcement, children try to make sense of themselves (identity and traumas) and their place in the world. Beneath the surface, they are wounded never completely being able to accept self, flaws and all, without the grandiose false mask guarding their deepest insecurities, doubt, fear and shame. Anyone threatening to “unveil” the real person will undoubtedly face the wrath of the narcissist.
The educational indoctrination system developed an environment where competition and the “win at all costs” ideology is enforced and encouraged. This mind programming happens systemically via constant testing, sports and other competitive extra curricular activities. To be #1 is the primary objective in every event. The imbedded lessons related to losing (achieving the #2 spot and beyond) are not generally explained. The pressure of winning makes some students anxious or vulnerable in making compromised moral or ethical choices just to win. In our modern day schools, teachers are also forced to give out awards to everyone in fear that it will make some students “sad” because they did not get the #1 spot. Failure to teach children about the realities of life (you won’t always be on top) is a missed opportunity to teach them how to self regulate their emotions. It is also a missed opportunity to enforce the idea of trUe, authentic self esteem. Everyone is fully aware of the rampant bullying epidemic taking place in schools prior to COVID-19 resulting in very serious consequences (school shootings and gun violence). Our inability to create a sacred space for all students to feel accepted regardless of outward success has contributed to this reality. Most of these troubled students have felt alienated for a range of reasons. Winning is awesome but losing is no less important in gaining a balanced understanding about life along with a healthy perspective about one’s own authentic value.
Although I could delve further into the subject of narcissism (types of childhood traumas leading to the onset of narcissism or the horrendous impact on targeted victims), I would prefer that you investigate the subject more thoroughly on your own – – or not. I have encountered many narcissistic personality disordered individuals in both my private and pubic life. Each person left a lasting low vibrational impact and a valuable lesson for me about my own lack of self love and boundaries. One such person was an entitled entertainment executive who would lose his sh!t if his limousine was not in the exact spot he expected it to be (remember the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”). From my experience, it’s not the pseudo high confidence, entitlement, insincerity with ulterior motives or selfishness that is the most disturbing. For me, it’s their inability to self reflect and lack of personal empathy and accountability which is the most hideous and damaging to those they encounter. Most will go to great lengths to sabotage, lie or destroy anyone who attempts to hold them accountable for their actions or challenges their false sense of superiority. These NARCS are the real mask wearers, even before COVID-19, because you probably never knew who they really were until after they took something of value from you mentally, physically or spiritually or destroyed your reputation to smithereens. Ouch!
COVID-19 has presented a huge challenge for our country but there has been a sort of silver lining (ah ha moment) or “awakening” for some people. Narcissists everywhere are being exposed due to quarantine (forced isolation) and the lack of human supply (people to steal energy from). America’s commander in chief, 45, has definitely elevated this disorder’s profile into the collective consciousness and allowed us to question its appearance amongst our family, peers and friends. I must admit I’ve quietly done an analysis of those around me – – watching and checking off traits looking for the magical number of “yeses” before determining whether to exit right. Many Americans have also taken conscious acts of empathy to new heights with neighbor helping neighbor looking beyond age, gender, racial or sexual identity. We cannot forget the incredible commitment, work and sacrifices of all essential workers! For these reasons, I feel a huge empathy awakening within the heart of America. On the surface, things may look bleak with all the righteous protesting for equality but a new day is coming. Real trans-form-ation is never easy. We cannot think as children do. Hard work, energy and effort provide the core ingredients for systemic change but it may not happen in the blink of an eye as the justice scales need time to come into alignment.
We all carry some narcissistic traits even into adulthood. I envisioned my version of a glamorous life long before it ever materialized but I never placed more value on money or things over real love, humanity, other living beings, and my authentic self identify. Your career or job represents what you do not who you are at a soul level. The car you drive is not your authentic self any more than the clothes you wear. We can all appreciate beautiful and luxurious items and experiences yet they do not define a person’s core value. They are gifts and represent our external mask – – your outer signature calling card – – indicating who you might be. The real you “unveils” itself by how you treat yourself and others. Our collective failure to acknowledge this point and holding it in higher status than materialism is perhaps one of the many indicators for how we got into our current position. Hard&black trUth is often really difficult to accept and triggering to most but it can ultimately lead to profound healing and freedom. As you think about this blog post, please try not to hate the messenger (LOL), hate the narcissistic game.
Update 10-9-20: Narcissism exists on a continuum (normal, healthy, with a few narcissistic traits, to a pathological (clinical) full blown personality disorder on the other – narcissistic personality disorder – NPD). The level of narcissism can vary over time as a result of normal life events.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders between 0.5 and 1 percent of the general population (50 to 75% are men) is diagnosed with NPD.