Narcissists and chaos

By Renee Fisher

The following up-to-the-minute research is not intended to refer to any specific person, either living or dead, nor even any person who has TV news stations talk about him 24/7.  This is merely scientific information, much the same as scientific information based on research into why people concrete over their front lawns and then paint the concrete green.

According to Psychology Today, PA State University researchers Sindes Dawood and Aaron Pincus, people who live chaotic lives may actually be narcissists. “(They) are driven to give off this impression (of chaos) to cover up their own feelings of despair and lack of importance…The disruption they cause in everyone else’s lives, according to this view, is part of the pattern of needing to fuel their sense of self-importance.”

The researchers continue “…those high in pathological narcissism, with their dependence on feeling important, would show variations in mood corresponding to their perceptions of whether other people are recognizing and applauding them.”

Let us grab a comfy chair and sit with this for a moment, (again, not relating this to any actual, specific person.) If any reader has thoughts of any actual, specific person, Life in the Boomer Lane encourages that reader to immediately think of something else, for example whether to plant real flowers or fake flowers on one’s lawn this year.  Then come back to the post with a clear, open mind.  Tabula rasa, and all that.

Research involved 293 undergraduate participants who completed a 52-page Pathological Narcissism Inventory, displaying the various facets of narcissism.  Among those are “exploitativeness, self-sacrificing self-enhancement, and grandiose fantasy.” Another facet, entitlement rage is in a different category of narcissism. Entitlement rage is caused because narcissists need others to admire them in order to feel good about themselves. If that doesn’t happen, they go into said entitlement rage.

LBL’s favourite is “self-sacrificing self-enhancement.” The narcissist declares that whatever he is doing at the moment involves a huge self-sacrifice. A perfect example would be John Snow, after being chosen as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, constantly telling everyone that he could make lots more money (as well as get to wear a swell crown) if he chased and won the Iron Throne, but stayed as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch simply in order to make the Night’s Watch great again.  There. LBL knows you were thinking of another example, but won’t let you go there.

Having a narcissist at the helm would be a huge problem for the family or employees of said narcissist. One can only imagine if the company were a big one, or even something larger than a company. LBL can’t imagine anything bigger than a large company, and she instructs you not to be able to imagine that either. She now continues:

Fluctuations in mood go with the narcissistic territory. Simply put, if the narcissist can’t have his way, he is inclined to either get really depressed or to throw a tantrum.  And, like the tantrums of your average toddler, these can involve screaming, stomping, and throwing. But adult tantrums can, in addition,  involve bodily harm to others and, on occasion, declaring war.

Their pathology leads these individuals to avoid seeing themselves in anything but the most favourable light. When things don’t go their way (such as in a rebuffed relationship or the non-passage of a major legislation), they can’t see their own contribution in the failure, but instead blame everyone else. (LBL must apologize here and instruct readers to forget the words “major legislation,” as it will bring them back to the very assumptions we are trying to avoid).

Unfortunately, researchers have no words of wisdom for those who are stuck in the quicksand that narcissists have created. LBL advises those hapless people to have empathy for the narcissists and see them as the truly despairing and self-loathing people they are. Understand that if we observe them closely enough and listen carefully enough, we can hear their tiny little cries for help.  Then we can ignore them and simply count the days until the mid-terms.

Musings of a former hula hoop champion. See more at lifeintheboomerlane.com.