No reason, no principle, just the pure exercise of power.
~John Paul Sartre~
The magazine, Psychology Today, refers to it as “a chilling rage.” From the point of view of a narcissist, the world “looks like it should approve, adore, agree and obey you. Anything less than that feels like an assault and because of that a narcissist feels justified in raging back at it.”
Psychology Today also lists characteristics of narcissists. These include:
- Control freaks– They try to exercise tight control over everything that happens around them and freak out when things do not go their way.
- Irritability– They are easily annoyed and anything unpleasant tends to grate on them.
- Short fuses– You have heard the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” They don’t see this as applying to them. Everything they don’t like is of major importance.
- Low frustration tolerance- Life around them is calm only when everything is as they want it and everyone agrees with them.
- Argumentative– They don’t believe in allowing others to have their own opinion or that it is possible to coexist peacefully with those who don’t agree with them. All differences must be attacked.
- Need to have the last word– The never let anything go unchallenged and fight to the bitter end to have their ways accepted as the right ones.
- Unable to lose– Their goal is to win at all costs regardless of the magnitude of the situation.
- Won’t take no for an answer– For them no is not a complete sentence. It is a challenge to keep arguing.
They have other unpleasant traits as well:
- Quick to anger if you don’t accommodate them– They don’t discuss arrangements which displease them. Instead they are much more likely to attack you as being wrong or inconsiderate.
- Quick to being aggressively defensive if you call them on any deficiency, fault or responsibility– Another way of saying this is that they have “thin skin.” Nothing is ever their fault and there is always something wrong with you for attacking them.
- Can’t apologize or, if they do they can’t do it sincerely-Any apology of theirs tends to be hollow and not really meant. You will be left knowing they think any fault lies with you.
- Rarely say thank you or congratulations– You are not important and anything you accomplish reduces their feeling of self importance.
- Don’t feel or demonstrate remorse– They don’t generally feel they have ever done anything wrong. Therefore they feel no need to feel sorry for anything..
- Feel entitled to enthusiastic and appreciative approval, adoration, agreement and obedience– They view themselves at the top of the heap in all matters and expect others to bow down to them constantly.
- Gloat in victory, sullen in defeat– Don’t expect any gracious gestures whether they get their way or not. It’s all about them.
- Quick to rage if you humiliate them– Humiliation can be as simple as viewing them on the same plane with ordinary mortals and is viewed as a direct attack.
Maybe you are wondering how some people get to be raging narcissists. One theory is that by nature they have trouble feeling good about themselves and need constant reassurance of their value. This may well result from a childhood in which such people are constantly told of their lack of worth as persons. As adults they try to compensate for their inferiority feelings by seeking constant adulation from others. When they don’t find what they are looking for they begin to show the characteristics we have just discussed.
Another theory is that they need to feel better than everyone else in order to remain stable. When they do not get the praise they crave, they turn to rage in an attempt to bully others into revering them.
However they get that way, narcissists are very difficult to deal with. But that’s another story which I will address in my next post.
(Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Anger in America)