fMRI scans show that we’re most comfortable looking at faces similar to our own.
As you can see, we are always in love with ourselves. Even when we are in love with other people, we are really in love with ourselves.
In my opinion, everyone is somewhat narcissistic. It’s adaptive to a certain degree, especially among males. It’s only when it starts getting out of control that it is pathological.
Keep in mind that another word for narcissism is self-esteem. You either have low, moderate or high narcissism, which means you either have low, moderate or high self-esteem. High self-esteem in and of itself is not pathological and instead is typically seen as a sign of good mental health. However, they can seem a bit overbearing or too much, I would agree with that. These are the people who we say are egotistical, have huge egos, or are self-impressed.
Visualize a scale from 0-100. A score of 1 is the least narcissistic, most ashamed, guilty, self-effacing, self-denying, masochistic doormat around.
Anything above 50 and you are starting to get into the narcissistic without being pathological, high narcissism or high self-esteem folks, which is where a lot of males are anyway, and it’s definitely where I am. Here you find a lot of folks, mostly males, who are vain, conceited, self-centered and sometimes arrogant. They are friendly people, but people who get close to them, for instance female lovers, often complain, “You don’t even care about me.” As a matter of fact, this is a very common complaint that women in general make about their male lovers/spouses in general. They make this complaint because males tend to be more narcissistic than females.
A female friend of my mother’s once asked her husband, “Do you still love me? You never tell me that you love me anymore.” Her husband looked around at the room he was sitting in, looked back at her and said, “Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?” A classic male response. “Hey, if I didn’t love you or like you, I wouldn’t even stick around.” But that’s not good enough for women. Women want to be reminded. Males and females are capable of love, even intense love, for each other, but they often express it in different ways. Women fall in love and form relationships for attachment needs – needs that want and require continual reinforcement. Males fall in love and form relationships for other reasons.
When you start getting up around 70 or so, you get into some pretty pathological narcissism, but it’s not yet the nightmare world of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I had a friend on the Net who was very perverted and loved to talk about sex all the time. He was a bit of a swinger, and he had screwed countless females. He was also somewhat bisexual, as many male perverts are. We would get into long, dirty conversations on the Net, and he would tell me all about his life from a sexual point of view.
One very interesting story he told was that when he was a teenager, his parents hired a Thai maid. She slept in a bedroom next to his and they could sort of hear each other through the walls. He jerked off every night like most teenage boys. At some point, every time he jerked off, he heard strange noises coming from the maid’s room. After a while, he figured out that every time he jerked off, she was also masturbating in tandem with him and getting off herself. A great story!
But he would go on and on with these wild stories, talking a mile a minute like someone hyped up on speed. But the stories were all about him and his doings and goings on. I really didn’t mind because I am narcissistic myself and listening to others gets me out of my head for once. But he was definitely a self-centered person, and he was also pretty vain. These people can be annoying, but they are not a walking catastrophe.
The dividing line seems to be whether or not you care about others. As narcissism goes higher and higher, typically people care less and less about others. It’s as if we only have so much love inside of us. If we use up all of our “love potential” on ourselves, there’s nothing left for anyone else. I have no idea if this theory is correct, but it’s an interesting idea I thought I would toss out there.
Now we get to the NPD’s, the Narcissistic Personality Disorder types. These are simply a disaster. Some of them can be nice to some people if they choose to be, but in general, they are uncaring and not very nice. They brag constantly and can’t be bothered to do anything for you.
There are degrees of NPD. There is Mild, Moderate and Severe NPD. NPD is not incurable, but it is quite hard to fix. But some can get better if they work on it. I have known some NPD’s who made some decent progress. The NPD’s who get better become much less annoying and insufferable, show more insight into their behavior and in general simply become better and wiser human beings.
The reason NPD is so hard to fix is because most simply think there is nothing wrong with themselves and hence don’t think they need fixing. If you have NPD and are aware of it, look around at your relationships with others. Are they satisfying or dissatisfying? If they are dissatisfying, you might want to look at working on the NPD.
I had an NPD friend who made a big deal about how he was going to my father’s funeral, but then he never showed up. It turned out he didn’t even have a very good reason either. He just didn’t care. If it wasn’t about him, it was irrelevant. If you started talking about you, he would listen for a bit and quickly become bored and uninterested.
An NPD I have known for many years will ask, “So what’s been going on with you lately?” You start to tell them, and after about 15-20 seconds, they are already bored and looking around the room. Like most narcissists, this person is absolutely clueless about how and why they offend others or why so many people despise them and want nothing to do them. I finally cut this person out of my life after decades of trying to suck up to them, be nice to them, and get them to like me. They were always disappointing me, and it felt like they hated me. I blamed myself and said it was because I was such a loser: “If I wasn’t such a loser, they might like me better.”
After decades of this, I started acting about as crappy towards them as they did towards me. This caused this horrible person to have hurt feelings that I didn’t like them, which they tried to make me feel guilty about. This person was also 100% clueless about why I was returning his jerkiness in pure form. Mutual friends got on my case about why I was being “mean” to this family member. Apparently this person gets to be a shit to me for the rest of my life, and I’m evil if don’t kiss their ass, smile and refuse to fight back.
NPD’s are a nightmare. If you have an NPD in your life, you really need to think about maybe getting this person out of your life. Some of the NPD’s I have known have only caused me pain and damage in my life. It’s not worth it.
Going further along, you get to the Elliot Rodger type of Severe Narcissistic Personality Disorder. NPD’s are not typically violent, but they are definitely capable of it, especially if they are shamed or rejected – because they can’t handle any rejection. They may then commit acts of aggression, dishonestly, and even violence as revenge. Elliot Rodger is a case in point that shows how NPD at certain times can lead to violence, even extreme violence.
Beyond that we get into the real monsters. These are the malignant narcissists. Ted Bundy comes to mind. Others call these narcissistic sociopaths, among other terms. I don’t understand them very well, and I am not sure how this differs from pure narcissism or pure sociopathy. Obviously, these are some of the worst human beings on Earth, incurable and often highly dangerous. A number of serial killers have been diagnosed with malignant narcissism as opposed to sociopathy.
You might be interested to know that our own President Donald Trump is a classic malignant narcissist. Of course he is an awful person, and he is definitely dangerous. All malignant narcissists are dangerous by default, but they don’t always act out with violence extreme enough to get them in trouble with the law. There are controlled malignant narcissists just as there are controlled psychopaths.
fMRI scans show that we’re most comfortable looking at faces similar to our own.