Niagara Gazette


September 8, 2013

SINGER: Dealing with Narcissism


Niagara Gazette — We could also point to plenty of politicians past and present with narcissist tendencies, to kings like England’s Henry VIII, and so forth. To which cynics might retort: hey, aren’t all generals and politicians narcissists? The answer is emphatically no. There are plenty of generals who have cared deeply about their charges, wanting to spare lives whenever possible. And looking simply at past presidents, yes, a JFK or Ronald Reagan had to make the right connections on the way up, no question; but I still think they cared authentically and deeply about many serious issues, and about people, and I would call neither a narcissist.

In other words this is not a label one should throw around lightly or indiscriminately. Narcissism is far down the psychological line from normality or even from the moderate position of neuroticism.

And again, what’s bedeviling about it is how well the narcissist constructs a persuasive, beguiling image of togetherness and normality. So many know the feeling they have inside dealing with such types — that something here isn’t right, despite the fact that plenty of people out there seem to gobble up those ready smiles.

You know what? Whatever you intuit — if you’re a thoughtful, honest person, including with yourself — is correct; but I realize how tough it is to honor that knowledge. It was difficult for French authorities finally to dislodge “Papa Joffre” early in 1917 after a good million French lives had been lost (not to mention the many British who also perished due to his sway over their army).

And it’s tough in your own lives to believe what you keep feeling inside. Someone once said that narcissists are toxic personalities, but eluding them is not always an easy matter. Sure, they’re false deep down, but they’re also frequently buttressed in life by success, wealth, good clothes and vehicles, and by having other glitterati in their corner; to the point where you may say to yourself: who the heck am I to doubt all that? Why not enter the spider’s web with everyone else?

But the sooner you validate that persistent doubt in yourself, the better. Because they aren’t going to change ...

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

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