Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Narcissism

Motherhood – The Tear

It’s one of the things that we don’t talk about, but there are many of us adult children who habitually avoid visiting our aging mothers. The operative word is children here because until this problem is resolved, we children, regardless of our ages, will never grow up.

Does this conversation from The Prince of Tides ring your bell?

” ‘It’s your mother, ‘ Sallie said, returning from the phone.

‘Please tell her I’m dead,’ I pleaded. ‘Please tell her I died last week and you’ve been too busy to call.’

‘Please speak to her. She says it’s urgent.”

‘She always says it’s urgent. It’s never urgent when she says it’s urgent

. . .

‘I hate my mother, Sallie…. p, 10

. . .

” ‘Jennifer said, ‘Why don’t you like Grandma, Dad?’

‘Who says I don’t like Grandma?’

“Lucy added, ‘Yeah, Dad, why do you always scream out, ‘I’m not here’ when she calls on the phone?’

‘It’s a protective device, sweetheart. Do you know how a blowfish puffs up when there’s danger? Well, it’s the same thing when Grandma calls. I puff up and shout that I’m not here. It would work great except that your mother always betrays me.’

‘Why don’t you want her to know you’re here, Daddy? Chandler asked.

‘Because then I have to talk to her. And when I talk to her it reminds me of being a child and I hated my childhood.’ p. 13

. . .

‘At this very moment my mother is crossing the Shem Creek bridge. No birds sing on the planet when my mother is on her way.

. . .

‘My God, I wonder what she wants, She only comes here when she can ruin my life in some small way. She’s a tactician of the ruined life. She could give seminars on the subject. … When my family has bad news, It’s always something grisly, Biblical, lifted straight out of the Book of Job.’ p. 14

. . .

‘Friendship and motherhood are not compatible.

‘…here’s Mom. Could you tie some garlic around my throat and bring me a crucifix?

. . .

“My mother appeared in the doorway, immaculately dressed and groomed, and her perfume walked out on the porch several moments before she did. My mother always carried herself as if she were approaching the inner chamber of the queen. She was as finely made as a yacht–clean lines, efficient, expensive.” Conroy, Pat. The Prince of Tides,  p. 16

[As Pat Conroy continues to develop the character of Tom Wingo’s mother, motherhood, shame, and anger become intermeshed.]

“I was not comfortable with anyone who was not disapproving of me. No matter how ardently I strove to attain their impossibly high standards for me, I could never do anything entirely right and so I grew accustomed to that climate of inevitable failure. I hated my other, so I got back at her by giving my wife her role. In Sallie, I had formed the woman who would be a subtle, more cunning version of my own mother. Like my mother, my wife had come to feel slightly ashamed of and disappointed in me.” Conroy, Pat. The Prince of Tides, p. 86.

[In reading more of the book The Prince of Tides, we discover that the Wingo family’s dysfunction did not begin with Tom’s generation of kids. Tom and his siblings were born into a dysfunctional family that extended several generations back–possibly back to the beginning of time.]

Because of her own insecurity, Tom’s mother had shamed her children into silence about things that did not cast the family in a favorable light. The Wingo father was a wife and child beater, and the children were forced into silence about the physical abuse in their homes.

Most of us were not physically abused, but through the rough and tumble process of growing up, most of us were hurt by something that our parents did or said or about what we came to believe that they did or said. Because of our own fragile egos, we may have exaggerated some of our slights. Our parent may have said one thing, and because of our own frailties, we may have heard another, and because we didn’t want to continue to hear what we didn’t want to hear, we may have erected a wall, and that launched a multitude of problems.

Mothers seem to bear the brunt of the blame for saying or doing things that kids perceive as having damaged them. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that mothers do not make mistakes. I am not saying that mothers do not say the wrong things and do the wrong things. As a mother, I have made mistakes and my own mother has also made mistakes, but I am acknowleding the reality that mothers are human.

“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Alexander Pope

While adult children are willing to forgive almost anyone in the world for almost anything that they have done, we find it difficult to forgive our mothers–the people who, in most cases, did everything that they possibly could do to be good moms. If we consider the irrationality of the degree of our anger and our acting out against our mothers, we may begin to understand that our inabilities to forgive our mothers may have more to do with our own weaknesses than it has to do with the misdeeds of our moms.

“There is no hospitality like understanding.”
― Vanna Bonta, Flight: A Quantum Fiction Novel

We consider ourselves to be a  hospitable bunch of people. We are good at being hospitable with perfect strangers, but we hesitate when it is time to be hospitable with those who have loved us as much as they humanly could have loved.

Hospitality is the act of opening our homes and our hearts and allowing others to enter. I believe that hospitality stems from understanding and from empathy. Until we are able to view our mothers as humans who had problems of their own and who did the best that they could with what life dealt them, we will never become hospitable toward them.

“You’re busy. You don’t have the skill set. Their problems are too much. Their life is a mess.
Your life is a mess. You’re too impatient. You’re not kind enough. You don’t even like them.
You have nothing to offer. What does it really matter?
Turns out, in the end, it’s all that really matters.”
― Edie Wadsworth

If we could simply shut out our mothers and close the doors of our pasts and walk away, it might be okay. It wouldn’t be kind and it would be dreadfully unappreciative, but it might be okay if we could completely remove ourselves from our families. but none of us can do that. We might convince ourselves that we are fine about divorcing ourselves. We might sufficiently harden our hearts enough that we feel nothing at all about it, but does anyone really want a hardened heart? We might become completely narcissistic and only care about ourselves. Whoa! Is that a good thing?

The truth is that there is no healthy way to eliminate our mothers, and until we quit trying to do that, we will be trapped in hamster cages, spinning the go-nowhere wheels of our own making.

“If you’re busy blaming your mother or wishing you could “divorce” her, you are caught in a psychological prison. You can’t get free, and you can’t really grow up. There are practical problems. For example, you dread family parties: Your mother might not like what you’re wearing. Or she might love what you’re wearing and say to everyone, “Doesn’t my daughter look gorgeous?!”—and you’d be mortified.

“That kind of practical problem is a symptom of the fact that mother-blame limits your freedom: you can’t be an adult who freely considers all of life’s possibilities. You restrict yourself to certain activities, interests, and friends to prove how different from Mother you are. You can’t look honestly at who you are, because you might discover ways that you are like her! Frantic to avoid what you consider her failures, you overreact, throwing out the good with the bad: you grow tough because you think she’s sentimental, or you become a doormat because she wasn’t warm enough. All that reaction against her, that desperate drive to prove your difference, restricts and damages your relationships with the other people you love—your mate, your children, your other relatives, and your friends. You offer them only a part of your true self, a caricature.” Caplan, Paula. The New Don’t Blame Mother

My children are mad at me, and I suffer from their anger every day. I grew up longing for the day that I would be a mother. When I was a child, I never wanted fashion dolls or any kind of pretty dolls. I only wanted baby dolls, and I wanted diapers and Johnson’s Baby Powder to sprinkle on their bottoms. When I was a little girl, I had play baby bottles and warm blankets to draw my babies near to me to protect them from the cold. I couldn’t wait to be a real mother, and I never dreamed that my real children would ever be mad at me.

One of my children called me to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I had not seen that son for five years and I had only talked to him once in that time. I could have elected to pout and not to receive his call, or I could have elected to welcome any amount of attention that he felt he could spare me. I chose the latter. I cherish the fact that he called. Because he had moved to a different state and had a new cell phone, I didn’t know how to reach him. My son’s call was the first step toward tearing down a wall. My sons live over 1,000 miles away from me. They live 8 hours away from each other, but they are both living in the South, and I told both of my sons to expect me this summer. I am returning to my own roots in the South, and I want us to have an old-fashioned family reunion. There is something about breaking bread and drinking that is ceremonial and healing. Fried chicken, deviled eggs, and potato salad. There could be no better way to commune.

I hurt for my wounded family, and one of my greatest wishes is that we will be healed. I never saw it coming, but I have learned that there is more to motherhood than holding babies and powdering them and caressing them. There is also a time for giving them a healthy amount of space, and there is pain. Years ago, Erma Bombeck wrote a touching piece that tells the story of God’s creation of Mothers. It is titled When God Created Mothers. For me, the title should be Motherhood – The Tear

©Jacki Kellum May 14, 2017 Happy Mother’s Day

“When God Created Mothers”
by Erma Bombeck

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said. “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?” She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said. “Six pairs of hands…. no way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked, “it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel. God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently, “Get some rest tomorrow….”

I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

But tough!” said God excitedly. “You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

Can it think?”

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

It’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “It’s a tear.”

What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said, “I didn’t put it there.”
― Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers

Hospitality

 

It’s Better to Light A Candle Than Curse the Darkness – A Reason That I Write

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Our world has become a dangerous and confusing place to live. Innocent people–even those who have dedicated their lives to keeping peace and to helping the community–are senselessly murdered, and they are often killed by another person who doesn’t even know them or who doesn’t have a personal quarrel with them. The murderers are simply others who have completely lost empathy or the ability to care.

Empathy is “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings. It is an identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.”

If a mass murderer stopped to think about all of the children that he was leaving fatherless or motherless before he began randomly pulling a trigger, he might reconsider his senseless taking of lives,  but mass murderers seem to have lost the capacity to think empathetically. And mass murderers are not the only people who lack empathy. Lack of empathy is global and it is poisonous. It is at the root of greed and anger, and it enables parents to abandon their children to pursue another romance or whim. Lack of empathy also allows the selfish social climber or the power hungry to run over everyone that they feel is blocking them from reaching their goals. Lack of empathy is destructive on many levels.

I write about the problem with lack of empathy quite often. People from every country in the world have read one of my blogs, which, at the time of this writing, has  been viewed 50, 877 times and by people in every country of the world. Yet, I doubt if my writing has actually changed anyone else’s behavior. Perhaps it has helped other people to begin to think and to begin to look introspectively, and that is good, but In reality, my primary goal in  writing is not that of saving the world. My primary goal in writing is that of saving myself.

Writing is the way that I refresh my own awareness of every aspect of my life, and it is the way that I organize my thoughts. It is also the way that I seek to understand why people do the thoughtless things that they do, but above all else, my writing is the way that I monitor myself and shine a light on my own motives.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that it is better to light a  candle than to curse the darkness, and while I would love to believe that through my blog, I enlighten the world, I realize that I do not. The more important thing, however, is that through my writing, I shine a light on my own darkness, and hopefully, that has become a torch that leads my way.

Think about it: If every person in the world would scrutinize himself and light a candle in his own heart, there would be no darkness at all.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Eleanor Roosevelt

©Jacki Kellum October 14, 2016

Candle

People Become the Things That Drive Them

Every time that we repeat the phrase that clothes make the man, we are indirectly quoting Shakespeare, but Mark Twain also added another level of insight when he said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” Regardless of how we say it, however, the reality is that the things that we value tend to define who we are.

Things are much different in the 21st Century than they were at the end of the 19th Century. At this time, I would like to add another amendment to the famous Shakespeare-Twain thoughts: “Men are also made by their automobiles.”

And unfortunately, we begin to look like the people and things that dominate our time.

People in my neighborhood walk their dogs, and over the years, I have begun to notice that many of those people have begun to look like their dogs.

While I am not sure that anyone in my neighborhood will win the next dog-owner look-alike contest, I can definitely see ways that the people around me are like their pets.

In my own life, my car and I have been to merge–we are becoming one.

honda_element_reverse

Not long ago, I saluted my old Honda Element, and I recounted some of the trips and journeys that my car and I have taken together.

Like me, my car is not fancy or frilly. When I went car shopping and bought my Honda, I said that I did not want carpet and that I wanted vinyl seats. My car and I go painting, and I often carry messy art supplies in her. I also carry garden plants and dirt her. I wanted my car to be like me–not afraid to get her hands dirty and not too proud to work and to sweat.

I have been driving my Honda Element for about fourteen years, and both my car and I have become old and worn now. As lines have begun to scrawl across my face and neck, my car’s seats have become webbed from wear. But my car and  I are not ashamed of our wrinkles and cracks. We are not pretentious. We are not embarrassed that we are not shiny new Mercedes Benzes, and we do not want to be Porsches. My car and I are not showy or flashy at all, but we have value. Our values lie on a different level than mere show and price tag.

People are known by the cars that they drive. When my car and I pull into the parking lot, we are easy to peg. “What you see is what you get.” By the same token, the people who are compelled to drive the newest and most expensive cars are also easy to assess. In most cases, they are the people who believe that outside appearances define them, and they are usually the people who do not place great stock on internal things.

In the Bible, Jesus came upon a  Pharisee who was pretentiously cleaning the outside of his plate and cup. In the time of Jesus, that was the thing to do, and even though the Pharisee made a spectacle of his precision in cleaning the outside of his eating implements, he did not clean the inside of his cup and platter; thus, he did not clean the important part, the part that touched the food. Jesus scolded the Pharisee:

Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Matthew 23:26

As I have already said, people become the clothes that they wear and the vehicles that they drive, but on a much deeper level, people also become what drives them. If a person is more driven toward the upkeep of his external appearances than he is to monitoring his inner character and the quality of his emotions, he becomes his exterior–he becomes a superficial person or a shell. If a person is driven to lie and to cheat and to back-stab to enable himself to buy more and more expensive things that he can wear and drive, a person becomes a liar and cheater. On the other hand, if a person places value in the quality of his thoughts and in his peace of mind and heart, and if he is not driven by the acquisition of more and more things, that person also reflects what drives him.

I believe that most people are driven by something, and I also believe that we need to carefully monitor what is driving us, lest we become those things  and not the humans that lie deep inside.

©Jacki Kellum October 2, 2016

Value

Mindlessness & Denial – Things That We Do to Protect the Fragile Self-Esteem

Earlier this week, I ran across a new term:” Mindlessness,” which has nothing to do with the amount of one’s intelligence. In fact, the most intelligent around us might be some of the most mindless people that we know. Mindlessness is a condition that we will upon ourselves to help ourselves block out unpleasant thoughts.

Mindlessness Is A Type of Denial

There are several ways to become Mindless

Workaholics work all of the time for a reason. If a person’s mind is completely consumed with work and success in the workplace, there is no available brain space left for worrying about failed marriages, dysfunctional families, children who are on drugs, etc.

The same is true about being a sexaholic or a foodaholic or an alcoholic or about one who is addicted to exercise. When we allow any vice to paralyze our minds or to block out unpleasant emotional stimuli, we become mindless, and that is a way that we protect our fragile self-esteems.

When we are able to pinpoint that people have become addicts of one kind or another, we tend to look down on them.  Sooner or later, we recognize the alcoholics. They eventually drink at the wrong time and in the wrong places, and they begin to stumble in public and slur their words. When an alcoholic begins doing these things, society tends to regard the alcoholic as weak or less than desirable.   It might be more difficult, however, to identify the workaholics, and the workaholic might escape scrutiny.  But if we look carefully at the workaholic’s behavior, we might begin to see that he is behaving as undesirably as the alcoholic.

In many cases, the workaholics are the most financially successful people in our midsts. They usually drive the nicest cars, wear the most expensive clothes and jewelry, and live in the largest houses. Because the workaholic has the finest things–the things that we regard as the outward signs of success–most other people tend to idolize him. But the workaholic becomes very me-oriented, and his self-obsession can become greedy and can even reach the point of narcissism.

Narcissists Do Not Identify with the Feelings and Needs of Others.

“Lack of empathy is one of the most striking features of people with narcissistic personality disorder. It’s a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.

“Narcissists do not consider the pain they inflict on others; nor do they give any credence to others’ perceptions,” says Dr. Les Carter in the book Enough of You, Let’s Talk About Me (p. 9). “They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings that conflict with their own.” Do not expect them to listen, validate, understand, or support you.” Read the rest of this article Here 

Being Successful Is Not the Same As Being Correct

Because the workaholics tend to become the corporate demigods and the politicians, the public is often blinded to their more negative qualities. Because the narcissist seems to have everything and because he wins everything, the public tends to believe that the narcissist’s behavior, whatever it is, must be correct.

Narcissists Are Masters of Deception

In many cases, narcissists are relentlessly charming, and the narcissist’s charm is probably his most powerful weapon. Narcissists are masters of deception. Because narcissists seem to have it all and because they seem to be happy, other people do not realize that they are basically insecure.

Narcissists Deceive Themselves

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about a narcissist is that the narcissist himself has managed to block his own feelings of insecurity. As I  mentioned before, this is the benefit of being mindless. When a mindless person begins cheating others and disregarding the feelings of others, he doesn’t recognize his own selfishness. Like an alcoholic, if a person cannot see his problems, the problems cannot be fixed.

Narcissists React Violently to Criticism

If someone around a narcissist tries to show him ways that he is behaving poorly, he will react very negatively. In most cases, the narcissist’s self-esteem is fragile, and he became a perfectionistic workaholic to escape his own feelings of fragility. Because of that fact,  a narcissist, cannot tolerate any criticism at all. If someone else suggests that he has not behaved perfectly, he is only enraged.

Narcissists Are Vindictive

And then there’s hell to pay.

For more information about narcissism, the following article from Psychology Today is helpful:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201311/6-signs-narcissism-you-may-not-know-about

The following are some of the narcissists’ traits as mentioned in Psychology Today:

1.Narcissists are highly reactive to criticism

2. Narcissists have low  self-esteem [but they seem to be overly self-assured] This facet of their psyche is complicated because superficially thy seem to have high self-esteem–they appear to be more assured than just about anyone else. Additionally, because they are driven to success, it’s not uncommon for them to rise to positions of power and influence and to amass a fortune (and see the post “Narcissism: Why It’s So Rampant in Politics”). But if we examine what’s beneath the surface of such elevated social, political, or economic stature—or their accomplishments generally—what typically can be inferred is a degree of insecurity vastly beyond anything they might be willing to avow. ..

3. Narcissists can be inordinately self-righteous and defensive. Needing so much to protect their overblown but fragile egos, their ever-vigilant defense systems can be extraordinarily easy to set off. …

4. Narcissists react to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. Because the narcissists are charming, they may hide their rage, but it is like a ticking time bomb. It may be hidden and out of sight, but it is still threatening

5. Narcissists project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves.

6. Narcissists view others as “extensions” of themselves, and they regard them as existing primarily to serve their own needs—just as they routinely put their needs before everyone else’s….

Most people are narcissistic to some degree.  I certainly recognize that I have some of the traits listed above. But I am aware that I can become selfish and me-oriented, and I continuously buffet myself.  If I have a saving grace, I believe that is my it: I DO recognize some of my own narcissism.  A severe narcissist does not.  Have you met the Queen of Denial? She is probably a narcissist, and there seems to be no way to change his or her mind about that.

What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive ourselves.

Where ego and self-esteem are concerned, most of us are fragile, and we do a variety of things to protect our fragilities. Denial is often a result of a person’s attempt to protect his own self-esteem. All of us need to monitor ourselves and our denials, however. We need to be sure that in providing for our own fragile egos, we do not trample the egos and the needs of others.

©Jacki Kelllum September 16,2016

 

Fragile

Narcissism and the 2016 Campaign Trail

I am not a political person, and before this year, I have often neglected to vote for the president that I preferred. In most cases, I was mildly confused about who would be the best president. This year, I am not at all confused. NEITHER of the 2016 candidates should be the President of the United States of America. Our Democratic contender is just shy of being a convicted criminal and our Republican contender is a mouthy and inappropriate nut. And both of the candidates are narcissists. Moments ago, I posted A Narcissist Might be the Most Evil Person that You Know Here.

Two days ago, a middle school child told me that she had read that people believe that Donald Trump has mental problems. I knew that I believed that to be true, but I had deliberately quit watching the campaign and I had quit following what the columnists were saying about the candidates. I simply couldn’t take any more of it. I suspected that Donald Trump had been labeled as a narcissist, and I did a google search to see if that was true. Bingo! Check out the high points of this article written on July 22, 2016, by Amy Ellis Nutt for The Washington Post Here

On Monday, “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston called Donald Trump a “supreme narcissist.”

On Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank referred to Trump’s convention appearances as “the triumph of narcissism.”

And by Wednesday, Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Trump’s bestselling book, “The Art of the Deal,” had made sure he’d told everyone from Jane Mayer at the New Yorker to TV’s Bill Maher that Trump’s narcissistic self-absorption had made him a “sociopath.”

For the four days of the Republican convention, the word “narcissism” was never more in vogue, but what does the word actually mean? More importantly, what would it mean for America if one of the nominees for president of the United States is a narcissist? Aren’t all politicians?

Peter Freed, a psychiatrist at the Personality Studies Institute in New York City says “…that people with narcissistic personality disorder are so self-absorbed that they are indifferent, even oblivious, to how they appear to others.” He goes on to say that “…narcissism is the “great, undiagnosed character pa­thol­ogy of the modern age…” He summarizes with the following:

“…narcissism works — until it doesn’t. Usually those who suffer most are not the narcissists, Freed says, but those around them, the people who have to cope with the “mood swings, walking on egg shells, the demand to be sycophantic.” Here

Hmmmmm! The thought of four years of dealing with someone’s demand to be sycophantic and of dealing with presidential mood swings and of this country’s walking on egg shells somehow leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  If that isn’t frightening enough, however, take a gander at who might become this nation’s First Lady [cough cough]! The following video speaks volumes about both Trumps. Ooops, I almost said Tramps.  Of course, Melania is simply the Trump Flavor of the Year, but what does she say about Trump and his narcissistic disorder?

ages_trump's_wives

On many, many levels, Donald Trump for President is Scary. What frightens me more, however, is that this country has stooped to the level that we would even consider allowing this duo into the White House and allowing them to represent us to the world.

Therefore, we look across the fence at Hillary. I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton violated this nation’s confidence and that she has broken at least the laws of which we have been made aware. I am also quite sure that Hillary Clinton is a narcissist. I repeat that Peter Freed, a psychiatrist at the Personality Studies Institute in New York City says “…that people with narcissistic personality disorder are so self-absorbed that they are indifferent, even oblivious, to how they appear to others.” The fact that a person who disregards the laws of this country might become this country’s president is bewildering. But at least, the Clintons don’t look and sound trashy.

How about this for a campaign slogan, Vote Hillary. She is the less trashy of two candidates.

What a mess!

©Jacki Kellum August 20, 2016

A Narcissist Might Be the Most Evil Person That You Know

Several years ago, I read Scott Peck’s book People of the Lie. I had suffered from a particularly painful experience that involved another person who absolutely seemed to have no empathy at all. Without empathy, there can be no conscience, and without conscience, evil can easily occur because people who cannot feel for others never see their own behaviors–in regard to those others. It has been 25 years since I read the book, but if I am not mistaken, excessive narcissism is essentially the phenomenon that Peck addressed in People of the Lie. The book opened my eyes.

In this absorbing and equally inspiring companion volume to his classic trilogy—The Road Less Traveled, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, and The Road Less Traveled and Beyond—Dr. M. Scott Peck brilliantly probes into the essence of human evil. – Amazon

Since that time, I have had encounters with other similar people, and it would seem that the people of the lie are sociopaths and/or narcissists. I believe that all of us are a bit narcissistic. That is how we survive. Narcissism can occur at various levels, however–but at an extreme, the narcissist becomes a sociopath.

Being Successful Is Not the Same As Being Correct

Because many of the most successful and powerful people among us–the corporate demigods–are severe narcissists, the lines become fuzzy. Too often, we correlate being successful with being correct.

Narcissists Are Masters of Deception

Another confusing detail is that when it is to a narcissist’s advantage, he/she can be relentlessly charming. That is the narcissist’s most powerful weapon. Since other people seem to love the narcissist, we begin to doubt ourselves and not the narcissist. Keep in mind that the narcissist is charming. Perhaps in the narcissist’s mind, the other person was worth charming and you are not.

Narcissists Deceive Themselves

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about a narcissist is that he/she is absolutely unaware of any of his/her wrongdoing. Like an alcoholic, if a person cannot see a problem, the problem cannot be fixed. There simply is no reasoning with a narcissist about any way that you feel you have been wrongedor even misunderstood.

Narcissists React Violently to Criticism

In my experience, confronting a narcissist about how he/she has hurt you is an effort in futility. A narcissist, who cannot tolerate criticism at all, is only enragedby confrontation.

Narcissists Are Vindictive

And then there’s hell to pay.

For more information about narcissism, the following article from Psychology Today is helpful:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201311/6-signs-narcissism-you-may-not-know-about

The following are some of the narcissists’ traits mentioned in Psychology Today:

1. Are highly reactive to criticism. Or anything they assume or interpret as negatively evaluating their personality or performance….

2. Has low  self-esteem [but seems to be overly self-assured] This facet of their psyche is complicated, because superficially their self-regard would appear to be higher and more assured than just about anyone else’s. Additionally, given their customary “drivenness,” it’s not uncommon for them to rise to positions of power and influence, as well as amass a fortune (and see here my post “Narcissism: Why It’s So Rampant in Politics”).  But if we examine what’s beneath the surface of such elevated social, political, or economic stature—or their accomplishments generally—what typically can be inferred is a degree of insecurity vastly beyond anything they might be willing to avow. ..

3. Can be inordinately self-righteous and defensive. Needing so much to protect their overblown but fragile ego, their ever-vigilant defense system can be extraordinarily easy to set off. …

4. React to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. [I am adding this: But because they are masters of deception and vindictive as well, that rage may not be obvious to others. Like a ticking time bomb, it may be hidden–out of sight, but still threatening]. …

5. Project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves.

6. Unconsciously viewing others as “extensions” of themselves, they regard them as existing primarily to serve their own needs—just as they routinely put their needs before everyone else’s….

In closing, if I did not see myself in at least part of the above list, I would be the very worst person of the lie.  I absolutely do have some of the very unattractive qualities named above, and I continuously appraise myself and buffet myself–seeking to keep potential problems in check. Therein is the distinction, and I believe my own saving grace: I DO recognize some of my own negative behaviors.  A severe narcissist does not.  Have you met the Queen of Denial? She is probably a narcissist.

©Jacki Kellum October 8, 2015

© 2017 Jacki Kellum

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