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)
The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
Some people are horrified at the venom spewing from the mouth of Donald Trump. People at the other end of the spectrum are happy to hear someone express the rage they feel because their lives are not the way they would like to see them. Most of these people don’t dare to share their anger or lash out at anyone who could possibly be responsible for their lives being a mess but suffer in resignation.
The Trump rhetoric is not a reasoned response to feeling angry among his followers. There is no attempt to understand why they are in the situation they are in or to find a reasonable approach to changing that situation. Their sole focus seems to be to rage at those they blame for their misfortune and to destroy the people and institutions they hold responsible.
Trump supporters are not the only ones suffering. Many people silently endure poverty, racism, debt, lack of a good job and medical woes. They could choose rage as well but realize that spewing invective as he does will not change their situation. Nor will it make them feel any better in the long run. Those suffering in both groups do not have the power individually to change their status to that of people with more satisfying lives.
Have you ever known an angry mob to find constructive solutions to their plight? I haven’t. The only way to make reasonable changes is to learn how to work together. But you can’t do this while you are consumed with rage.
People shouting are not in the frame of mind to reason with anyone else about anything. Others who listen to the shouting only hear raw emotion. They don’t hear any details of others’ pain, how it came about or how it affects individuals and families. Neither do they hear anything rational which might become a basis for productive negotiations or cooperation.
So why should we thank Donald Trump? We all have within us the capacity to negotiate with each other toward our common good. All of us have the capacity to descend into blind rage where our words are merely weapons and offer no bridges toward mutual dialog. We can thank him for showing us the worst of which we are capable. He mirrors the depth of rage and spitefulness for which we all have the capacity.
Can you imagine all of the billions of people on earth acting as he does in public? It’s a frightful image to behold. Before we get to this point, we can learn to behave like rational human beings and express our concerns in a way which others can understand and which allows us to work together toward solutions which benefit us all.
Life Lab Lessons
Write down what makes you angry about your life.
Try to understand how you got to feel this way.
Do so without blaming someone else for your misfortune.
Consider what you have to offer others to better their lives.
I was 18 years old standing in the back of my high school church youth group when my mind got to thinking. At this age I was first beginning to become aware of issues happening globally as opposed to only my own nation or immediate surroundings. A desire grew within my mind to gain understanding of any perspective which I had yet to experience or understand. I wanted to truly see things from the perspective of the homeless, the child dying from disease in Africa, and the wealthy businessman.
My search for understanding of wider perspective was based largely on the desire to discover why problems of poverty (and by contrast excessive luxury) exist in our world at all. I wanted to gain understanding of what reality truly is. In reality, there is absolutely no technical reason why there should any poverty. Our attachment to symbolic representations of what wealth is has restricted us from liberating all of life to live, at least in the sense of physical circumstances, rather well.