It can be extremely frustrating to deal with someone who acts in a way that makes no sense to a sane and rational person. It may feel impossible to understand why someone would attack others, claim their actions didn't actually occur, even after they have seen photo proof and lied to websites in order to have those photos removed, and then claim to have been attacked themselves. It just baffles the normal mind.
There is an explanation for such behavior. It is called narcissism.
A narcissist is someone who is overtly or subtly arrogant, exhibitionistic, and vain. A narcissist is also manipulative and greedy for admiration.
Narcissistic rage, character assassination and projection are some of the overt ways in which the narcissist expresses himself. For example, she may envy a work colleague's beauty, and project her feelings into her colleague by accusing her of being envious.
The denial of remorse and gratitude by the narcissist are two of the more subtle ways used to protect an internal sense of grandiosity. An example of a narcissist's ability to be subtle might be when he arrives late for a meeting. Rather than offer a sincere apology, he may blame someone else for keeping him talking, thus externalizing the fault ("It's not my fault") and maintaining his sense of grandiosity.
Despite tending to be exhibitionistic, it is very rare to hear narcissists brag or boast. Instead, he (or she) tends to 'drop' information in the form of an ostensibly ordinary matter-of-fact report, which appears to be intended to elicit admiration without asking for it. For example, rather than say, "I was so pleased to meet our CEO, Peter Smith", he will casually allude to "...lunch with Peter", in a way that induces a sense of distance and inferiority in the recipient of the information; again maintaining his sense of grandiosity.
A distinction must be made between 'normal' or 'healthy' narcissism on the one hand and 'pathological' narcissism on the other. We all have some degree and variety of narcissistic delusion which, if it is not too great, is normal and healthy. But the pathological narcissist has a level of delusion that is divorced from reality.
Normal narcissism refers to well integrated representations of the self and others, whilst pathological narcissism relates to an impaired in trapsychic structure with grandiose self-representation and a severe pathology in object relations.
It is difficult to recognize a narcissist because he (or she) spends all of his time acting, protecting his ego by presenting to the world a mask, a false image of himself. Consequently he becomes a master of deceit. But it is extremely important to be able to recognize people whose behavior is detrimental to them.
Researchers have found that a narcissist reacts much more emotionally than a non-narcissist, sometimes with "narcissistic rage" when his (or her) ego is threatened. Social comparison information is especially salient as the narcissist processes social information in terms of its relevance to the self, that is, he reacts to negative feedback with more anger and aggression and lower self-esteem than a non-narcissist. In fact his mood and self-esteem fluctuations can usually be attributed to social comparison information.
Overall, individuals high in narcissism displayed amplified responses to social comparison information, experiencing greater positive affect from downward comparisons and greater hostile affect from upward comparisons.
A better qualified work colleague would likely evoke a hostile affect through upward comparison.
Because of a propensity to internalize failure, the narcissist's emotional response to failure is to feel shame, as opposed to guilt felt by people without the disorder. So in order to avoid shame, which the narcissist feels must be avoided at all costs, he externalizes blame for negative events. As he feels someone must be guilty, he almost always attributes blame to others. Only when his self-esteem is particularly high, perhaps through some positive feedback he has engineered, does he accept blame, and only then if it can be seen as a magnanimous gesture.
Over time, a narcissist will create an emotionally hazardous environment for the non-narcissist. He (or she) will surround himself with codependents / enablers / followers. If he is high enough up an organization, he will appoint them. If he can't appoint them, he will make life so difficult for those who don't subscribe to his 'world view' (or tacitly accept it), that they will leave. The narcissist will eventually end up surrounded by individuals who play the pathological reciprocal role that his behavior typically induces.
The narcissist can't succeed without codependents. If the narcissistic personality trait is to be activated, then the narcissist needs to be exposed to trait-relevant situational cues. Codependents, who do whatever the narcissist needs, sometimes working beyond healthy (and sometimes ethical) limits, supply these cues. Narcissists and codependents/enablers are attracted to each other because narcissists crave power and codependents crave security. If a person has a narcissistic personality, he (or she) will make sure that his family and friends circle or work team is comprised of codependents.
A huge problem in the work environment is that the codependents completely fail to recognize the narcissist's pathological behavior. As they already subscribe to his world view, the codependent is already conditioned to accepting the narcissist's behavior. It is a well-known dynamic in most psychological circles that if one is denying or cut off from an aspect of the self, it is very difficult to recognize this aspect in others.
Parental nurturance, or good parenting is therefore critical in the transformation of normal narcissistic traits into mature ambitions and ideals; and parental nurturance predicts healthy self-esteem. It isn't surprising, therefore, that when you look into the parental relationships of narcissists and codependents, you find problems. Typically both narcissists and codependents come from dysfunctional families.
It is rare for a narcissistic individual to be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Here are a few pointers that may help you identify one:
Their lack of empathy colors everything they do. They may say, "How are you?" when you meet, but they are working from memory. They are not interested in how you are.
Virtually all of their ideas or ways of behaving in a given situation are taken from others, people they know and perhaps think of as an authority (mirroring).
Their sense of self-importance and lack of empathy means that they will often interrupt the conversations of others.
They expect others to do the day-to-day chores as they feel too important to waste their time on common things.
Listen for the constant use of "I", "me" and "my" when they talk.
They very rarely talk about their inner life, for example their memories and dreams.
They feel that the rules don't apply to them.
They will always cheat whenever they think they can get away with it.
If you share workload with them expect to do the lion's share yourself.
They love to delegate work or projects, then interfere by micro-managing it. If it goes well, they take the credit, if it goes badly they blame the person they delegated it to.
There tends to be higher levels of stress with people who work with or interact with a narcissist, which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.
They get impatient and restless when the topic of discussion is about someone else, and not about them.
Another frustrating aspect of the narcissist's behavior is how he (or she) will cause an argument just to protect himself from a perceived ego threat. The behavior of the narcissist is typical of how a narcissist will create and distort an argument solely to protect his self-esteem. There are many other behavioral characteristics exhibited by the narcissist. One way to recognize a narcissist is to trust in your own intuition. One feels ill at ease in the presence of a narcissist for no apparent reason. No matter how charming, intelligent, thought provoking, outgoing, easy going and social the narcissist is – he fails to secure the sympathy of others, a sympathy he is never ready, willing, or able to reciprocate.
The narcissistic personality manifests itself in the narcissist's behavior. He (or she) will seek to dominate every individual and every group with which he interacts. Narcissism occurs in almost every organization, usually at or near to the top. The narcissistic personality and its obsessive desire for control is not about control just for control's sake, but an essential defense against the risk of receiving a narcissistic injury; a blow to the ego or self-esteem. The narcissistic personality comprises of a defense that works incessantly to prevent others reminding the narcissist of his feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness, which lower his self-esteem.
The Narcissistic defense is addicted to power and control, without which he feels exposed to his real feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness.
Many people have the fantasy that if they try hard, 'do it right,' be reasonable, logical, and have goodwill and a team approach, these factors will generate a positive outcome in interpersonal or group settings. This is about as deep a fantasy as one could possibly have, as it is not based in reality. Why is this? It is because a narcissist's survival is dependent upon having control, or the perception of control. When this control is challenged, he feels threatened and responds as though his very survival is at stake.
The narcissist's defense works incessantly to prevent others from reminding him of his feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and worthlessness, which lower his self-esteem.
But non-narcissists who are committed to being fair and nice to others may further compound the problem. They are naturally unwilling or unprepared to hold the narcissist accountable for his behavior. Confrontation is not part of their personality, so their failure to confront the narcissist only serves to reinforce the narcissist's belief in his dominance, thereby strengthening his position.
An emotionally hazardous environment is created by a narcissistic who believes in demonstrating power and control, dominating others through a combination of direct threats and stealth methods. But when the narcissistic gets his (or her) feelings hurt, or perceives he has been slighted in any way, or is threatened that another person’s abilities might be better than his own, he will react with aggression. The time it takes for the narcissist to change from Mr. Nice Guy to Mr. Angry can be very short, and some of the methods he uses as means of control are abuse, narcissistic rage, splitting, projection, character assassination, and intimidation.
The stealth methods used by narcissistic people can create emotional turmoil for those around them. Name calling, talking down to employees, sexual harassment, disinformation, using the 'silent treatment' for those who have slighted him are just some examples of the subtle controlling techniques that gradually but consistently erode a normal environment into one that is cancerous. And just as with cancer in the body it can spread its malignancy.
Residents feel narcissism describes Craig Dunwell's behavior perfectly.