Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 8, 2013

SINGER: Dealing with Narcissism

Niagara Gazette — A well-known professor at the University of Rochester, Christopher Lasch, published a celebrated book of the late ‘70s, “The Culture of Narcissism,” which I read, but which left no memorable residue.

However, narcissism — a veiled, difficult-to-perceive, but serious personality issue — is alive and well, and if you’ve been bedeviled by someone you know who somehow doesn’t inspire your trust, and who seems too good to be true, he/she probably is! You know — the type who smiles perpetually in public and seems to have it all together, barbecues exactly the right way, has the right kind of home, etc.; but who deep down, lives only for image purveyed, and really cares little or nothing for anybody.

Authentic empathy is never a strong suit of this flawed, fundamentally false personality type. If you’d like more enlightenment on the subject, I urge you to consult a world authority on both narcissist and borderline personalities, the late James Masterson, particularly his book “Search for the Real Self.”

Narcissism is revealed in those for whom existence is simply a competition or series of mountains scaled, and ultimately, in a “look ma, aren’t I wonderful!” attitude. People are only important to such types as Christmas tree ornaments to make them look better — i.e., to enhance that all-important image they present. Very little can wipe the inveterate smile off their faces, including suffering that’s right before them, even in their own families.

I’ve denoted this personality trait in certain major historical figures, such as France’s ever sunny Chief of Staff in World War I, Joseph Joffre, committing thousands, even millions to certain deaths in ill-conceived offensives against German trench lines; and then showing (in his memoirs) not one iota of regret for it all. (During the war, he himself generally stayed back at headquarters far from the front, taking good care of himself there.)

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