I was planning to write about my being an approval junkie, but today’s wandering around internet documentaries made me think of Obama’s narcissism, which isn’t too far from writing about approval addiction.
Obama’s narcissism reminded me so much of my own that I felt disgusted with it and didn’t want to write my daily mental masturbation post.
I recognize the ease with which mr. Obama produces a completely fake, but very convincing sincerity. In all of his speeches he only says what the masses like to hear, stuff that plays on their emotions. My narcissism won’t let me do that sort of thing, because it digusts me AND whenever faking something doesn’t get me enough rewards I feel extra empty afterwards. So faking sincerity is a no go zone for me, the potential backlash outweighs the potential pay off.
I’m also greatly dissapointed because the public falls for the studied charm of this complete shell of man. I recognize the type, everything he does, he does as if the camera (real or imaginary) is focussing on him and how it will look later in an article, his (auto)biography, etc. I know because it takes one to know one. I don’t think many days have gone by on which I haven’t answered interviews in my head or read pages of future biographies of me, me, me. Yes, I’m serious. Why am I telling you this? Because perhaps you’ll learn something from my honesty. Usually I hear my wife’s voice when I read from my imaginary future biographies, as I imagine she will write one or be interviewed about me, me, me after I die. This stuff happens automatically in my head and often I’m not even aware of it, as if I have an internal biographer or archive guy storing everything for further use in my biographies. I do not remember NOT having this process, so, hey, look at me, I was born and raised a narcissist.
The good news is that I am a self-medicating narcissist. In technical terms: I’m a non-pathological narcissist. Bill Clinton and Obama are pathological narcissists. Only when I feel very wronged do I think to, let’s say, unleash my narcissism, which would mean just allowing it to run its course without moral adjustement from me.
This sounds like there are two people inside me, doesn’t it? A narcissism expert points out that narcissists come close to having multiple personaility disorder, but they don’t actually have it. Rather, they have a very strong mask persona and a personality behind that mask that is the fosillized personality of the child.
What does this mean? Suppose as a child you suffer trauma, you experience the world as a very scary place. One of the ways to counteract that is to start seeing yourself as singled out to lead an extraordinary life, to adopt a God like persona. This is the mask: everything happens for a reason, the bad things that happend are to be overcome as part of a hero’s journey. The narcissist wears this mask to present himself to the outside world. Every event gets reinterpreted as part of this God existence. Behind the mask is the child, who uses the mask as a trench, a bunker, to defend itself from a threatening world. The mask can give enormous energy, though keeping it up as well can be very exhausting as well.
Suppose for a minute you are convinced you are a God and everything on your path, however hard it may he, is somehow leading to a throne making you the most fascinating ruler in the universe. How would that make you feel? This would make you impossible to be perturbed. Just take a look at Obama. He never seems to lose his cool. In fact, he has very little variety in his facial expressions, it’s as if he is literally wearing a mask that he can adjust a bit according to circumstances, but if you look at him closely, there is no spontaneity to his face, at all, never. This is because his entire performance is scripted. He is always on, he’s directing himself. He is so used to doing this that even surprising events do not really catch him by surprise. No matter what happens he will respond with a ‘cool’ attitude. A narcissist can not allow himself to look confused. If he does look confused you can be very sure he’s showing you confusion DELIBERATELY. Everything is always staged.
Note for example how similar Bill Clinton’s and Obama’s sincerity looks. They could be twins if you study their voice and body language. I only find that Obama overdoes it a little bit. Hilary Clinton is still very much looking for this consistent charismatic mask. Her mask doesn’t feel comfortable and it shows, but she is constantly working on it. She has more doubts about her uniqueness than Clinton and Obama. The smartest of the three is Bill Clinton. Why? Because he can even stage the falling off of the mask, admitting mistakes, etc. Obama is too rigorous in his narcissism to do this.
Now, if you think narcissists are simply the Devil, you are wrong. Some narcissists will be very beneficial to you. Are they being good to you out of their own self-love? Sure. But their help can be very real and loyal. From the three people mentioned above, Bill Clinton is quite likely the one that will be most supportive if you are a part of his Royal Court.
Narcissists don’t have many real friends, they have a Royal Court filled with people who will benefit greatly as long as they keep praising the King, entertain, or challenge the King, without posing a real threat or showing malicious intent. I’m sure quite a few people feel very fine around Obama and Clinton. Narcissists very much operate as the sun of their personal universe. It’s warm in the sun and it’s nurturing, it’s just best not to get too close.
The sun can also be addictive, so narcissists are at risk of getting followers quite like a sect. Narcissists tend to love this, but they are not psychopaths, they can be, but they don’t need to be. Good natured narcissists will still draw a following, but will perhaps warn their followers to not treat them like a God. Dealing with narcissists is not a black and white story like many so called experts will have you believe. Some narcissists are like a pack of sigarettes: it looks enticing, can have stimulating effects, but clearly indicates that smoking can also damage your health. Let’s call this kind of narcissists the kind of narcissists where the child personality did develop at least a part of a responsible adult personality. They make great actors though and it’s hard to tell whether they are being modest for real or whether their modesty is a trick to get them more praise or a tactical move to score some other reward besides praise.
It gets even more complicated when some narcissists will look like the most depressed, most shy, sweetest people of all. Kurt Cobain for example was certainly a narcissist, but perhaps too smart, too aware of it and too afraid of open challenges to his identity to let it show or let it run with him, at least not in public (he did some pretty tyranical stuff to Dave Grohl and Kurt Novoselic). He was a passive agressive narcissist. So don’t think every narcissist comes in the same shape and form. If you aren’t one, you’ll probably not spot them and mix them up with arrogant people or monomaniacs or theatrical people or cardboard people who have copied a certain attitude. Narcissistic behavior doesn’t mean you are dealing with a narcissist. Some narcissist will almost never display narcissistic behavior, as they realize people don’t like narcissists or because they feel too threatened being in the spotlight. Let’s call them backstage narcissists.
The sun comparison is probably the most practical comparison in coming to a user manual for dealing with narcissists. The sun is necessary, it’s always on even if we can’t see it, we need to be without it half of the time and we can’t move too close. We can very probably never travel to its core, but then again, why would we?