Narcissism needs to be redefined. Its premise is a virtual attack on truth. Telling lies to con and exploit others with no remorse forms the basis for the criminal mind, or antisocial personality disorder (APD), also known as sociopathology or psychopathology.
Because of the overlap in key traits, sociopathology can be regarded as a more severe form of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD); however, there is a lot of overlap. Both lack empathy or regard for the feelings or rights of others regard others — the woman in their life, or women as the group, perhaps other groups deemed inferior and weak — with scorn, take pleasure in hurting or making others feel uncomfortable.
The main difference lies in the severity of the symptoms, which isn’t always clear because of the extent both APDs and NPDs willfully lie.
What also makes these two disorders distinct in the DSM is that, unlike most other mental disorders listed, APDs and NPDs willfully seek to cause harm to others (to prove superiority and dominance), and do so in varying degrees, ranging from emotional and mental trauma on one end, to sexual and physical assault, and in more extreme cases, a threat to others’ lives on the other.
For this reason, the terms “narcissism” and “narcissist” in this post refer to those that meet the criteria for APD and, or NPD.
As human beings, it is only natural to be in disbelief that anyone would lie just to lie! Yet narcissists do. “When someone shows you who they are,” Maya Angelou noted, “believe them the first time.”
Practitioners and clients alike must seek to better identify and understand what narcissists mean by the things they say and do!
Because narcissists take pride in their ability to lie, gaslight and con others, those they deem “weak and inferior” in particular, it is not reasonable for researchers or practitioners to expect to identify narcissism through standard interview questions or self-completion measures. If instead one looks past the words they speak or gestures designed to impress or put up smokescreens, narcissists most always self-identify, for example, in couples and family counseling, exhibiting a set of distinct behaviors.
As in the dystopian world of George Orwell’s 1984, the narcissist regards the truth as his biggest enemy, and takes pride in honing con artistry skills to ensure “the lie replaces the truth.”
To take this seriously, it’s important to note the power of beliefs, in activating the neurochemistry of the human brain, to literally shape, start and stop behaviors. The cells of the body are designed to “listen” to our stream of thoughts 24/7. A narcissist targets the thoughts of another for takeover. Narcissists believe they are entitled to use whatever means necessary to maintain status quo power over another. In their worldview, those in status positions are entitled to lie.
The good news is that no one can make you feel less than the amazing human being you are without your permission. Arm yourself with this and other truths.
The narcissist holds beliefs that disdain the core tenets of what it means to be human in human relationships, and thus lying is an imperative, critical to propping up their fragile wounded-egos, and house of cards illusions and false-self image as “truth.”
Where do these life-limiting beliefs come from? For the most part, they are widely spread by the values that a society’s major institutions promote in the socialization of children, the family of origin experiences in particular.
In a study of the upbringing of an infamous criminal mind, Adolph Hitler, and the harsh parenting practices that prevailed in the decades leading to Nazi Germany, Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, Swiss psychologist Alice Miller notes the following:
“The capacity of the human organism to bear pain is, for our own protection, limited. All attempts to overstep this natural threshold by resolving repression [of core human emotions of compassion, empathy] in a violent manner will, as with every other form of violence, have negative and often dangerous consequences.”
There are at least 15 reasons lying is a lifestyle habit for narcissists.
1. To confuse others and prevent them from thinking clearly.
A narcissist lies knowing that confusion elevates cortisol in the brain and body. When this occurs, the body’s survival system is activated, and automatically, thinking areas of the brain go offline. In other words, fear and confusion cripple the brain’s otherwise amazing capacity to think reflectively. This makes it easier for the narcissist to get away with lies and illusions. Narcissists learned many of these tactics of dominance from exposure to narcissists in childhood. They also typically study methods of persuasion, and the use of words and language to exploit others. Today, we have nearly a century’s worth of science-based methods in thought control available, perfected in the last few decades with studies of neurolinguistic programming. These are commonly used in training workforces in almost all industries and sectors, among others, advertising, sales, military, politics, and so on.
2. To deny another’s reality and human response.
Human beings are hardwired to emotionally connect, to form empathy-based relationships with others. Our behaviors are shaped by powerful emotion-drives to matter and contribute value, to learn, and grow and thrive in our personal lives and relationships. Narcissists can’t stand the idea, to say the least, that humans are moral at heart, that we thrive in enriching social environments, and our capacity to form relationships is harmed or damaged, when exposed to continuous assault and trauma. In their worldview, this is merely evidence of who’s superior and meant to rule, to play god, and to alter nature however they wish, regardless of the effects on actual life around them. They view science as a tool to control life, rather than as it is: a study of how things are and designed to work. So they use tactics of lying, such as gaslighting, to tear away at their others’ sense of self, to make them feel their wants and human needs are weaknesses, that nobody cares; to cause them to doubt their own capacity to love others, that no one loves or is there for them; to get them to question their beliefs in human ideals, common sense wisdom and the Golden Rule, ethical treatment of others — as if all of these are irrelevant.