First Things First
Terms such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Sociopath, Psychopath and Narcopath are the labels typically associated with narcissism. With extreme levels of narcissism, it can be helpful to have such labels. Violent, destructive and acutely manipulative people should be placed in a pigeonhole to remind us that only physical distance can protect us from them. Dealing with the most violent and sadistic of narcissists is beyond the scope of this book, however. Being forced to go no contact, restraining orders and post-traumatic stress disorder are not light topics. Personality disorders and domestic abuse are also beyond the scope of this book. Professional help should be sought when dealing with such issues.
Most narcissists sit more in the middle band, and at first glance seem harmless. The damage done by your average narcissist seeps in like a slow acting poison. Being in a relationship with a narcissist causes untold damage, without them necessarily swindling you of all your money or becoming violent. A lot of narcissists subject their target to the slow, painful death by narcissism - without criminal intent. They do most of their damage through emotional abuse, by shaming and manipulating their target to enforce control.
This book focuses on the narcissist archetype. This archetype applies to the father or mother who fills their own needs by objectifying their children and keeping them both subjugated and trapped in a psychological cage. It applies to the friend who loves having weaker people around just so they can ridicule them and feel powerful around them, as well as feed off them for narcissistic supply. It relates to the lover who objectifies and keeps their partner trapped in an agonising emotional storm. It applies to the boss who charms, controls, frightens and objectifies his employees with the intention of reinforcing their power in the workplace. This book focuses on narcissism as not only an archetype but also as a regime; a structure with strict rules aimed at objectifying and subjugating others for narcissistic supply. This book tries to leave the popular labels and theory behind so that the heart and soul of narcissism can be clearly seen without the external layers to muddy the view.
For the sake of simplicity, the term narcissist will be employed in this book. Narcissist regime will refer to the structure between two or more people where a person controls others and extracts narcissistic supply, either through a position of power such as parenthood or a management position or through emotional manipulation in a relationship. Often it is a combination of both, where a position of power gives a narcissist the licence to control their target and emotional manipulation enforces the control on a more personal level.
On the other hand, the target of the narcissist will not be given a special label, since that would pigeonhole them and define them in comparison to the narcissist, hence keeping them trapped in the game. The entire purpose of this book is to assist the targets of narcissism in breaking free, reminding them that their identity does indeed exist outside of a narcissist regime and encourages them to define their identity and self-worth according to their own choosing. Again, for the sake of simplicity, the term target will be used in combination with you, which addresses the reader as a person who can relate to the content. This provides us with a useful label that is not based on subjugation or a role. Anybody can be a target of something. Being so does not influence one’s identity.
Lastly, it is crucial that we view narcissism itself as the enemy, and not designate specific people as evil. Although extremely difficult in some cases, hatred for the narcissist keeps us stuck and leads to us surrendering our personal power. We must remember that beneath the behaviours and beliefs we are all human beings. It is specifically this humanity in us which is the gateway to a life of strength and peace and which separates us from the perils of narcissism. Furthermore, narcissism can be handed down for generations and be so ingrained in the family dynamic that there is no awareness by anybody that it is going on, including the narcissist. Many people learnt narcissism through abuse from a parent or loved one. It is also argued that some people are simply born with a reduced capacity for shame, and narcissism as well as manipulation are a natural outcome of this. To top it all off, we need to remember that we are all capable of narcissism if we stray too far from our inherent humanity.
Make no mistake, narcissism is a horrible thing. But the finger should be kept pointed solely at the disease, and never the person. Yes, how you treat a person will change when they exhibit narcissistic behaviours, but as this book will explain, once we have identified narcissistic tendencies in a person, the next step will be to bring the focus away from that person and then inward into ourselves, where change can happen.