What Our Judgment Of Narcissism Reveals About Our Humanity

 / 

,
What Our Judgment Of Narcissism Reveals About Our Humanity

Narcissism finally has the center stage it’s always craved. Narcissism is a process by which an individual feels shame or low self-worth and compensates through being grandiose or lashing out in the face of any criticism that may trigger negative feelings. And we can’t seem to get enough of narcissism these days.

Whether it is debating Donald Trump’s personality, trying to understand the behavior of a loved one, determining how narcissism may manifest amongst business leaders, or just having some fun discussing our favorite movie or television characters, we are trying hard to figure out what narcissism is, who has it, and how it may impact us.

People who struggle with narcissism can suffer greatly. And the grandiosity and defensiveness that many people employ to defend against feelings of shame are unsuccessful leaving narcissistic individuals often consumed with feelings of self-loathing. In the most extreme cases, individuals who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) may also suffer from co-morbid conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance dependence.

We Tend To Judge Others

Our fascination with narcissism is understandable because of the impact they can have on the individuals around them. People who struggle with narcissism can be incredibly toxic in relationships. It can be difficult to tolerate the grandiosity that comes with narcissism, as it often feels that individuals are making themselves look impressive in contrast to and at the expense of others.

Also read Do You Have Type A Or Type B Personality? QUIZ

People who struggle with narcissism may be intentionally or unintentionally manipulative as they try to bolster a fragile sense of self. They may also experience less empathy for others as they can be preoccupied with their own needs.

In theory, the more we understand narcissism, the ways it manifests and how it can be managed, the more likely we are to improve the lives of those who struggle with it and those closest to them. And yet often, the discussion of narcissism turns from curious to critical. In the most extreme cases, we harshly judge and condemn people who struggle with narcissism.

They are portrayed as inhuman – evil, “malignant” and beyond redemption. And it is very tempting to indulge in that portrayal. And while this assessment is understandable, and may be a necessary part of the evolving discussion on narcissism, it is ultimately more harmful than helpful to everyone involved. In a sense, we are showing an extreme lack of empathy towards people we accuse of lacking in empathy.

The issue of our judgment of narcissism has been nagging me since my recent discussion with Mark Greenway of the band Napalm Death on the Hardcore Humanism Podcast regarding humanity, and how people with different political positions treat each other. Greenway identified a “crisis of humanity” that was partly based on our prioritizing political affiliations and symbols such as flags over human beings.

It’s Easy To Judge. It’s More Difficult To Understand

“This emphasis on symbols like flags is really to the detriment of human beings because it’s something that is inanimate that sometimes becomes the battering ram that we use…,” Greenway told me.

The rage and anger that many people have towards others with differing political affiliations feels familiar – eerily similar to the stigma facing people with narcissism and mental health conditions in general.

Also read The Animal You See First Reveals Secrets About Your Personality

Stigma of mental health issues is damaging for several reasons.

First, people who endure mental health issues already struggle with significant emotional pain that can have severe personal, social, work and even physical health consequences. The stress of experiencing stigma in the form of ridicule and criticism only adds to the damaging effects of mental health conditions.

Second, this stress can often result in emotional avoidance whereby the individual with mental health conditions tries to suppress their experience – which tends to make their symptoms worse rather than better. Finally, individuals who experience stigma of mental health issues are less likely to seek out treatment. When considering the impact of mental health conditions on well-being and the potential for treatment to help, anything that creates a barrier to care is an important public health issue.

Thus, it is critical that the conversation regarding mental health issues such as narcissism shifts from one of stigma and condemnation to support and compassion. We need a strategy that allows us to feel protected from the harmful effects of narcissism and other mental health issues so that we can be free to be more understanding and help either ourselves or others cope and heal.

Here are some possible ways forward that could aid in understanding people with narcissism

First and foremost – and taking a cue from Greenway — we need to center ourselves in our own sense of humanity. Our greatest asset in being kind and compassionate to ourselves is simply our commitment to do so. We need to be grounded in the notion that we want to treat ourselves and others as humanely as possible, even if it is difficult and feels threatening.

Part of what might make this process easier is recognizing that many mental health issues can be understood on a continuum, rather than as a discrete disease. This is the case with narcissism; research suggests that narcissism is best understood as a continuous process rather than a discrete, separate factor. An understanding of the continuity of mental health conditions in general and narcissism in particular may allow us to think twice before assuming that someone we label as narcissistic is inhuman when the evidence suggests many of us may display narcissistic tendencies.

But if we are going to be more compassionate to ourselves and others with narcissism, we must start by being understanding and validating that in dealing with our own narcissism or the narcissism of others is frightening and threatening. We will have lapses in empathy and compassion – especially when dealing with people who we feel are manipulating or otherwise hurting us. Research suggests that this type of self-compassion may be protective against the effects of low self-esteem on our mental health – the very type of low self-esteem that we may experience with narcissism.

Also read The First (and hardest) Step To Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

To be sure, being compassionate does not mean being vulnerable and unprotected. The goal is not to be kind and gentle en route to being demeaned, exploited or humiliated by interactions with people who suffer from narcissism. Setting boundaries is needed. But let the boundaries be based on what behaviors we find acceptable or unacceptable, rather than through labeling someone or ourselves with a mental health condition.

So, absolutely call someone out for lying, being grandiose, unempathic, or hurtful in any way. Let them know that this behavior will not be tolerated, and either create distance in or end a relationship that feels manipulative, abusive or otherwise unsatisfying. Specifying the harmful behaviors may be both more validating to us and more effective in leading to change than simply calling them a “narcissist.” In fact, the setting of boundaries may be what allows us to be more compassionate. And if we are less threatened, we are more free to be empahic and kind.

Ultimately, if we can ground ourselves in our humanity and compassion, be kinder to ourselves and others while protecting ourselves from the harmful effects of narcissism, we may be less likely to need to reinforce the stigma of narcissism and mental illness in general. This will potentially reduce the stress on everyone involved and also free up people who struggle with narcissism to seek help to address feelings of shame, low self-worth and the harmful compensatory strategies that emerge.

Remember, whether we like it or not, mental health issues are one of the factors that unites us as most people at one point in their life will struggle with a mental health condition. When we reduce stigma and promote compassion, we recognize and reinforce our own humanity.

Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful. Thank you very much! I greatly appreciate it!


Written by: Michael Friedman, Ph.D
Originally appeared on: Hardcorehumanism.com
Republished with permission
What Our Judgment Of Narcissism Reveals About Our Humanity pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Up Next

Can A Narcissist Be Faithful? 18 Reasons Why They Cheat (And Why They Don’t)

Can A Narcissist Be Faithful? Reasons They Can Be

Can a narcissist be faithful? This question delves into the intricate world of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and the complex dynamics of relationships involving narcissists. 

Understanding the psychology behind this topic is crucial for those who have encountered or are currently involved with narcissistic individuals. Let us explore the nature of narcissism, the reasons why a narcissist can be unfaithful, as well as the factors that might lead them to exhibit faithfulness. 

Can a Narcissist be Faithful in a Relationship?

Can a narcissist be faithful? This is a nuanced question and doesn’t really have a straightforward answer.



Up Next

18 Signs Of Lack Of Empathy To Look For and What You Can Do

What Is Lack Of Empathy? Recognizing Key Signs

Ever wondered about the profound impact of a lack of empathy in our relationships? Let’s delve into how it shapes personalities and affects our connections with others.

We will cover portions like what is empathy, and the signs of lack of empathy, and so on. Let’s get started!

A lack of empathy is not sufficient for a diagnosis of narcissism but it underlies several narcissistic traits, such as arrogance, entitlement, and being exploitative.

On the other hand, a lack of



Up Next

20 TV Shows And Movies About Gaslighting, Manipulation, And Narcissism

20 Shows And Movies About Gaslighting, And Narcissism

Narcissism and gaslighting are two manipulative tactics that can have a profound impact on people’s lives. Interestingly, many movies and TV shows have explored these themes in order to shed light on the devastating effects they can have. This article is going to explore in detail some of the best TV shows and movies about gaslighting, manipulation and narcissism.

From classic films to modern TV series, these works of art offer a glimpse into the minds of those who use these tactics and the impact they have on their victims.

However, before we take deep dive into some of the best films about narcissists a



Up Next

How To Make A Narcissist Dependent On You? 8 Tricks To Keep Them Hooked

How To Make A Narcissist Dependent On You? Eight Tips And Tricks

In the wild world of relationships, dealing with narcissistic people can be quite the challenge. However, fear not! We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve to help you establish a deep emotional connection with a narcissist. So, how to make a narcissist dependent on you? How to keep a narcissist hooked?

Understanding how to navigate the intricate dynamics with a narcissistic person can be challenging. While it’s important to approach these interactions with caution and empathy, there are strategies that can help you establish a deeper emotional connection with a narcissist, if you’re constantly wondering how to make a narcissist addicted to you.

In this article, we’ll explore eight effective ways



Up Next

What is Hoovering in Emotional Abuse: Understanding The Dangers Of This Narcissistic Technique

Hoovering In Emotional Abuse: Understanding And Avoiding It

Have you ever experienced hoovering by a narcissist? This post is going to explore in detail what is hoovering in emotional abuse and the relationship between hoovering and emotional abuse. 

If you’re researching this topic, you’re probably in one of two positions:

You’re a victim of this emotionally abusive tactic

Someone is accusing you of hoovering

Either way, this post will cover ev



Up Next

How To Know You Have A Narcissistic Mother Wound

Narcissistic Mother Wound: Knowing Signs And Six Ways To Deal

Having a narcissistic mother is probably one of the most painful and heart-breaking experiences you can go through. Having and dealing with a narcissistic mother wound is not an easy journey to be on, but at some point, you do need to learn how to deal with it. Let’s find out more about how narcissistic mothers behave and how to deal with a narcissistic mother wound. 

When Christina Crawford wrote about her abusive mother, Joan, in Mommie Dearest, several celebrities came out in defence of the actress.

Narcissistic mothers are good at presenting an image to the public that directly contradicts their behaviour behind close



Up Next

11 Early Signs Of Narcissism In Children Along With Psychopathy, Exposed by Researchers

Eleven Early Signs Of Narcissism And Psychopathy In Children

Amidst the vibrant tapestry of childhood innocence, the early signs of narcissism in a child might seem like unexpected brushstrokes, but research reveals that these brushstrokes carry important clues about potential behaviors that warrant our attention.

It might seem inconceivable to associate traits like narcissism and psychopathy with young minds. 

However, research reminds us that even amidst innocence, there can be hints of behaviors that raise eyebrows and warrant attention. 

Although formal diagnoses like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder are reserved for adulthood, a constellation of terms, measures, and markers allows us to glimpse potential traits that m