Compliments of Matthew Oliphant via Flickr

The Food Network show Unwrapped takes us on behind the scenes tours of meal preparation. We’re exposed to how what we eat becomes a finished product, and to the inner workings of a plant.

An exploration of other people [particularly the disordered] is even more interesting.

According to Sam Vaknin (author of Narcissism Revisited: Malignant Self-love) a narcissist:

  • Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements);
  • Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment;
  • [Is] devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
  • Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

What causes narcissism? Some argue that narcissists may be the product of a dysfunctional upbringing; e.g. the result of:

  • Permissive parents who give excessive praise to the child, thus fostering an unrealistic view of themselves*
  • Overindulgence and spoiling by parents*
  • Failing to impose adequate discipline (Ramsey et al., 1996*)
  • Idealization of the child (Imbesi, 1999)

A lack of disciplinary boundaries results in an absence of restraint with other people. Whereas a child’s temper tantrum is annoying, the same act from an adult is a frightening experience. A narcissist at any age acts like a spoiled child. Like magistrates, they expect everyone to come to them (not realizing that they should be the ones to make the first move). They are the self-proclaimed kings of their contrived universe.

People who behave as the center couch everything in terms of their own self-interest, and seem oblivious to (or perhaps even sadistically delighted by) the fact they cause other people profound unhappiness. What’s obvious to others simply fails to permeate the layers of gray matter that comprises their minds.

Narcissists are only interested in one perspective: their own. The bottom line is that they want what they want and they get what they want. They engage in flagrant violations with impunity, because in the past no one has ever said anything to the contrary. They get under the wire and manipulate the system, which allows them to bulldoze the opposition. What you notice is the oppression of their presence – and the pleasure of their absence.

If you’re in an abusive situation, the only way out is to create awareness through every avenue available. The antidote to abuse is education, and in every medium imaginable.

If you are faced with a narcissist choose to mentally pound your fist on the table and say “no more.” Your mantra is the following: “I will not condone abuse in me or my family members. Not here. Not now. Not ever. Realize that you can no longer participate in a charade.

Related videos from Sam Vaknin:

Narcissist and mood changes
The sadistic narcissist
Adulterous, unfaithful narcissists
Narcissists, jobs, professions, and vocations

Related blog posts and websites:

The emperor has no clothes
Narcissism and men
The epidemic of narcissism
What is your cubicle saying about you



Ramsey, A., Watson, P. J.,Biderman, M.D., Reeves, A. L. (1996). Self reported narcissism and perceived parental permissiveness and authoritarianism. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, vol 156, no. 2.

Imbesi, L. (1999). The making of a narcissist. Clinical Social Work Journal, vol 27, pp. 41-54.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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One Response
  1. This sounds like a previous manager of mine. Because I would not conform and be the puppet on the string it was a personal attack on me. She very much took pleasure about making our working relationship miserable. I was at at such a low point with this manager that I was looking for a way out. Then I realized that is exactly what she wanted. This was an “abusive” situation and I found ways to “create awareness” using HR and other managers. I did “pound my fist” and it did eventually pay off.

  2. Michelle on September 17th, 2011 at 6:59 pm