Hello, Friends; Aunt Alex is back from the front lines, with stories to tell and observations to share. And the first one is about a well-meaning but not-too-bright-in-the-bulb guy named Jeff.
Jeff isn’t a narcissist. Jeff’s a therapist, and he sees lots of different clients, including people involved in nasty relationships. Here’s what Jeff said, with a straight face: “You can’t be making narcissists out to be pathological. Narcissism is just another trait, on a continuum. Some have less, some have more, but it’s not really a personality disorder.”
It took Aunt Alex quite a bit of time to knock this dolt out and stuff his lifeless body down a storm sewer, but now that it’s done, let me set the record straight:
Continuum, my ass.
In normal, healthy people, some have more or less confidence, arrogance, self-love, self-loathing, lots of things. Some people are more empathic or less empathic. Some are big jerks or barely have a jerky day in their lives. But narcissists are not, I repeat, are not on a continuum of normal traits.
The key here is the empathy. Narcissists don’t have less empathy than the average person, or way less empathy than average. THEY HAVE NO ABILITY TO EMPATHIZE AT ALL. That empathizing part of their brain isn’t shrunken; it’s absent. They can’t even fake it very well, for very long. This isn’t on a continuum of normal, because there’s NOTHING normal about having a barren absence of empathy. It’s like having a continuum of colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, and on that continuum the narcissist is North. It doesn’t even make any sense to put him anywhere on a continuum where he has no relationship to the thing being measured and compared.
Jeff was exhibiting an irritating tendency one sometimes sees in the helping professions, and that’s to cut the narcissist a break. To “find health” or “seek out strengths”. To give hope where there is none, and where hope only makes the hurt drag out longer and the devaluation go on and on. This isn’t cool. There are mental health professionals, helpers, coaches who are worth their weight in gold, who know that some people are abusive and broken beyond repair, and know that it’s OK for everyone else to stay away from them. And there are others who really need to shove their concepts about narcissists down in the storm sewer along with Jeff.