Narcissism: The root of altruism; the bastard son of Platonism; the seed of sadism

Narcissism, clinically speaking (not colloquially speaking), has fascinated me for a long time, probably because I have known at least two full-blown narcissists–again, I submit, clinically speaking–in my life.  And these people were, unfortunately, no mere acquaintances.  Furthermore, I was, as many of you already know, a loud and proud member of neo-Calvinism poster tyrant, Sovereign Grace Ministries for fifteen years.  And as one who unreservedly believes that Calvinism, among many other vile ideas, is little more than a seething pit of narcissistic manifestos masquerading as “sound doctrine”, I consider my time there at the very least the equivalent to a grad school residency specializing in that particular personality disorder.  Of course I do not profess to be a professional psychiatrist, but the point is that I have done enough research and been around the disorder long enough to feel comfortable calling something or someone “narcissism” when I see it/them.

A recent conversation with someone I consider to be an abject jewel of narcissistic personality disorder enlightened me to yet a further realization of just how deep the canyons of self-delusion and rational desertion run in these people.  I do not mean this post as a personal assault upon this person; truly I do not begrudge (much) my time with this specimen.  It has been a wonderful learning experience…and I mean that sincerely.  No sarcasm intended.  I intend this post to be a criticism of the narcissistic personality in general and not, again, as a personal invective against this person.  I hold against him no ill will.   But be that as it may, his disorder must be discussed in the public square.  For indeed narcissism is nothing if not a rank public menace, and the more we know the more our rational revulsion and pity is increased to our benefit.  Which is to say that most importantly, we can protect ourselves against being dragged down into the pit of their man-eating Platonism.  And when we can know the enemies of the SELF for what they truly are, we can promote the SELF, and in doing so the love and awareness of God and others.  And we can rightly file narcissism within our life experiences under “What not to do”.

In short, I mean this post as something which will help us look beyond the ostensible demeanor of society’s parasitic types so that we can better deal with them, and avoid the mistake of surrendering our bodies and minds to their despotic ideas.

Oftentimes, these people are not rank idiots who stumble around in their folly like drunk sailors, so obviously troubled that anyone with eyeballs and a half of sense can see it.  No, these are seasoned sadists (more on that distinction later), with enough wit and guile to masquerade–initially anyway–as even the most compassionate souls.  Often intellectual, they have a way of qualifying every vile thought, every self-serving whim, every hiss of their utter disdain for you and all things “other” in a way that makes them sound like Mother Theresa’s protege.  A wolf masquerading as a sheep; a devil as an angel of light…it is an art form which they have perfected, having lived almost their entire lives in relentless pursuit of the only manna which satisfies their lie and prevents the truth of their own catastrophic existential failure from sending them into a personal hell of naked, pointless oblivion…this manna being what is known as “narcissistic supply.  They blend in perfectly.  Well, what I mean to say is that they blend in perfectly…until they don’t.  Tuning your mind to a point where you are hyper-alert to logical contradiction removes the false narcissistic front of intellectualism and rationalism like a good pair of night vision goggles.  Once you learn to spot the rape of reason a mile away, the narcissist will no longer have the upper hand on you and your life.  But beware, and do not underestimate their acumen.  Like I said, they have perfected the pursuit of narcissistic supply.  And no matter how vigilant you are, occasionally they’ll get an idea past you, and even to those of us who spend our free time counting the ways of evil philosophy so that we may never be blind to its madness will be tripped up for a time by the artful narcissist.  Guard against this by bearing in mind that all ideas must be vetted for the consistency of their premises, as measured against individual human life–yours included and particularly–as the standard of all TRUTH, before being accepted and you’ll likely be okay.

Be ever alert for the narcissist.  And understand that, like the Siren’s of Homer’s Odyssey, even when you are fully aware that the person with whom you are engaging is a narcissist, you may find yourself nevertheless attracted to his rocky shores.  And there you will surely and inexorably be shipwrecked.  Do not be fooled by his charisma, his charm, or the excitement you sometimes feel when you are around him.  Never underestimate his uncanny ability to make a life which is solely about himself seem like it is all about you.

More coming later today…stay tuned !!

 

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