What Makes Someone Chase a Narcissist?

This post has been prompted by ruleofstupid, who produces one of the best blogs at WordPress, in my humble opinion. If you haven’t dropped by for a visit, you really should. His social commentary, poetry and music are by turns thought-provoking, funny, witty and sad, but never ever boring. I’m really surprised that he hasn’t been Freshly Pressed yet. If you think that’s a message to the powers that be for them to do so, then you’re right. Get going, WordPress!

In any event, RoS commented on my last post that he wanted to read about the other side of this narcissist issue. What makes a perfectly sensible someone chase a narcissist instead of telling them to f**k off? Well, the first simple answer is that the people who are involved in narcissist-chasing don’t realize that that’s what they are doing. The second simple answer is that usually, narcissists are the ones who chase. Then there’s the more complex answer. You just knew that was coming, didn’t you?

There are unfortunately all sorts of negative reasons for why people get involved in inappropriate relationships and I clearly can’t even begin to address all of those levels of dysfunction. However, I do think that I have a reasonable take on what goes on for many of those who get involved with the narcissistic crowd. They are not to be confused with the douche nozzle crowd which if you stop and think about it would make those who chase them the nozzle chasers which is a really unsettling image and I don’t think that I’m going to follow it any further.

I think that there are four broad categories or “types” of people who get involved with narcissists. There is nothing official about these categories – they are just the result of my reading, experience and consideration; they are also not meant to be exhaustive.

English: Would only a narcissist walk this pat...
English: Would only a narcissist walk this path? Green path through the walled garden at Wallington lined by spring narcissi. Late spring means that very few leaves have emerged. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. The Saviour Complex – Narcissists like to present themselves as having been heartlessly screwed by pretty much everyone around them. Enter the Messianic saviour types. These are the ones who think that through their unconditional love, they can save anyone from anything. They have some very Pollyanna – ish ideas going on about how love can save the world, all you need is love, and so on and so on. They are in love with the idea of love and to some extent also have some rather arrogant beliefs about the effects they can have on others. When it comes to the narcissist, these saviour types are completely in over their heads. They have no idea what they are dealing with but their commitment to their ideal is so strong that they will keep on trying even after the abuse starts. They have faith, with a capital “F”, that they can save the poor unloved narcissist. Essentially, they are naive and inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve the narcissistic onslaught that will inevitably come their way. In the aftermath, they will need help re-establishing their values.

2. The Agenda-Driven – These people get involved with narcissists because they are so agenda-driven that they don’t notice the issues their potential “partners” have. These types are worried that they will never find another partner, that their biological clocks are running out, are extremely concerned about being alone or feel that they must have a partner in order to function in society. They can be very single-minded in pursuit of their “goal” and will be completely shocked and surprised when the narcissist discards them. It will likely take a long time for them to stop blaming themselves for their lack of insight and they may also have to forgive themselves for being fallible.

3. The Minimizer/Rationalizers – These people are to some extent related to the Saviour types, but where the Saviour is over confident, the Minimizer lacks confidence. They don’t trust their own judgement and believe everyone around them is more intelligent. You can easily enough see where this can lead. When they are confronted by the narcissist’s lousy behaviour, they will doubt their own perception of it and will choose to accept the narcissist’s opinions about everything as being superior to their own. They will bend their interpretation of events in order to protect or defend the narcissist and they can also be extremely blind to the narcissist’s ability to offend others. Eventually, the narcissist will abandon the Minimizer/Rationalizer – as is usually the case – but the Minimizer may take many years to recognize what was occurring in the “relationship” and may also try repeatedly to get the narcissist back.

4. Boundaries? What Are Those? – This was me. I did a post on this which you can link to here. I also have to say that had some of the other characteristics going on, as well. There was some minimizing and rationalizing, and some saviour stuff  too, but for the most part, I lacked personal, emotional and mental boundaries. I had been raised to be a yes-person and for various reasons over the years, this mode of behaviour had solidified. It has been a real uphill climb for me to establish some boundaries and I also have to work every day at maintaining them. I know that I could easily slip back.

I know that there’s lots of crossover among these categories but I think that for the most part, they capture the prominent characteristics of those who find themselves involved with narcissists.

What do you think? Do you see other types or other characteristics that could lead to narcissistic entanglement? I’m very interested in what you have to say.

Narcissists R Us

Pinocchio DSM 5
Pinocchio DSM 5 (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

Between dealing with my water troubles and my virus particles it’s been an interesting month or so.  M and I are also organizing some big changes with our decision that he should go back to university for a Master’s degree, so lots of stuff happening on the home front. I’ve also had the opportunity to keep up with my reader and as I indicated in my last post, there’s so much great commentary, fiction and poetry being produced. It’s about time that I produced something, too, although it might not be as good as what I’ve been reading from the rest of you.

This post has been prompted to some extent by an excellent piece written by bettylaluna who discussed the difference between a narcissist and a garden-variety jerk. Her piece is quite academic and gives the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV definition of a narcissist while noting the significant differences between those types of individuals and people who are just “jerks.” I’ve been thinking about this for some time and given that my main intent here is to throw out a general warning about narcissists, I’m going to weigh in as well, but purely only from the perspective of experience. I am not a therapist.

So, what is the difference between an annoying douche nozzle who can drive you batshit in 2.2 seconds and a narcissist? Well, just that, for one thing. Jerks tend to be upfront about their jerkness, while the narcissist is as smooth as a glass bottle. Whether they admit it to themselves or not, or even recognize it, narcissists have a definite plan for the development of their “relationship” with you. The basics of this plan do not vary much from person to person but it can become more sophisticated with time and practise. Jerks, on the other hand, may not understand that they are jerks, but they also are not developing a plan to take advantage of you, either.

As I’ve noted in other posts, narcissists, if they’re interested in you at all, will start with a charm offensive. At some point in your first interactions with him you will likely hear alarm bells going off in your head, but if the narcissist is well practised, he will swamp you with so many effusive compliments that you will soon forget about those pesky warnings and will reach over and pull the plug. Of course, the best thing to do at that point is to walk away, no matter how attractive you find him, but many of us have had our evolutionary instincts socialized down to a sort of background static that we’re usually taught to ignore.

If you fall for the charm, the compliments, the flattery, the small “thoughtful” presents and attention to detail, you will start to feel wonderful, as if you are floating on air. You will see him as perfect. He dresses well, is well spoken and polite and money does not seem to be an issue. It seems as if he will do anything for you. In fact, what he has done is idealize you.

Once he realizes that he “has” you and that you are also a fallible human being, he will slowly begin to lose interest in you. You are no longer a challenge and in his eyes you will only have importance insofar as you are useful to him.  Technically, this is known as the “devaluation” stage of the narcissistic relationship.

Yes, this is where he is, but where are you? You’re back on cloud nine wondering why the sky has suddenly turned black. You keep trying to figure out where your “perfect” relationship has disappeared to and inevitably, you start to think that its deterioration is your fault. Your narcissist will also actively encourage this thinking and you might start to believe that you’re going a little crazy.

You will do everything in your power to mend the situation, to return to that state of bliss that you had been enjoying. In fact, you’re not unlike an addict who is chasing a high. Unless you do some thinking and self-assessment, you could wind up in this position for a long time.

Meanwhile, as you’re trying to sort out and save your relationship, he’s entered the “discard” phase. The name speaks for itself. He will now endeavour to get rid of you, as long as he can keep whatever he deems to be of value from your “relationship.” During this last phase he may also “play” with you by frequently changing his mind, by moving out and then back in, by giving you glimpses of what you thought you had during the idealization phase.

The only exception to this pattern is if you decide to leave him first. Then he will likely re-enter the idealization phase and if you allow it, you will start this roller-coaster all over again. People are not supposed to leave them – only they can do that.

I did not allow it, although he pulled out all the stops and tried everything to get me back under his control, from suicide threats to death threats. No kidding. Once I had decided that there was something seriously wrong with him – I didn’t know at the time what exactly it was – I knew that I had to get my perfectly ordinary, but perfectly good, life back again. In the world of psychopathy, it’s either the narcissist or us.

On the other hand, jerks are just jerks. They can be annoying, they can be hurtful, they can demonstrate a serious lack of social graces. But they don’t necessarily indulge in an active plan to “conquer” you.

What do you think? Are jerks just jerks or are they closer to being like narcissists than I think they are? I’d really like to hear from all of you.

Master or Slave?  (Flash Question)

Hanging On By One Fingernail

So I haven’t posted for a while. Since January 20th, to be exact. I’ve been trying to keep up with my reader, but even that is proving to be difficult. So let me tell you, dear readers, what I’ve been up to.

First of all, there were my water troubles. For those of you not familiar with Chez d’Arty’s love/hate relationship with water, I refer you to a couple of earlier posts called Homeowner’s Bliss, Parts One and Two.

So anyway, my water troubles are sort of fixed. My shower still leaks. My kitchen sink still leaks. But a lot of the other leaks are fixed. The CIA would be proud.

But then I had to go to another city for a 9-day work assignment. And I got sick. I wasn’t feeling too hotshot before I left but while there all the little virus particles decided to really let go, literally. I didn’t think that it was possible to spend that much time in the bathroom. The worst part is that I was in a hotel room without the familiar comforts of home: The dog lying next to me, burping and farting. The plumber trudging up and down the stairs and probably envisioning a lifetime’s worth of work in my soggy basement. My neighbour, swearing loudly as he shovels the sidewalk. I can’t tell you how glad I was that I was in a hotel room.

Actually, that’s not very true. I was really missing M. but also glad that he was in no danger of getting infected.

And on top of it all, I had to keep working.  Since I was not long back from medical leave I didn’t think that it would be a good thing to claim further illness, so Immodium became my best friend. Yum.

I got back home to a pile-up at work and having to face the fact that I’m not really better yet. I am awaiting the results of further tests.  In the meantime, I have actually done some catch-up reading and am amazed anew at the creative abilities of those I follow – and others of you, as well.  You really are a talented lot. Thanks for making me laugh and for making me think.

The -foot ( m) diameter granite CIA seal in th...

I appreciate you all.

Homeowner’s Bliss, Part 2

So here I am again and still suffering from my water troubles. I’ve decided that I should consider plumbing as my next career. Reading law? Forget it. Medicine? Too many late nights. Plumbing. Now there’s your ticket. You will be a contented millionaire who is able to take early retirement at age 35. People will come from afar and worship at your altar of mysterious, netherworldly knowledge. You will be loved and revered. And best of all, you will understand and be able to fix your own plumbing.

When I last left you, dear readers, I had been informed that I would have to pay $1000 to fix the weird-ass pipes that the plumber wanted to take pictures of. That was back when I had nerves. Now I don’t have any left. They are distant memory, smothered in the vague notion that once upon a time, I didn’t have water troubles and life was good.

A complex arrangement of rigid steel piping, s...

Anyway, God came  the plumber came. He worked for six hours. He charged me $1000.00. He told me the shower was fixed. Then he told me that he needed to do another six hours of work. That a lot of it is temporary, like the temporary filling that the dentist gives you. I’ve always wondered about that. Why is it that they just can’t give you the permanent filling right from the start? Why do you have to go through this temporary bit? Anyway, I’m digressing, but I asked him the same question – why the temp job? So he gave me a lot of explanations that I didn’t understand about angles and corners and how he wanted everything to work, at least temporarily.

So the next morning, I took a shower. As I was towelling off I was startled by a loud bang. Then there was another. I soon came to believe that the Battle of the Bulge was being re-enacted in my basement. Shaking, I grabbed at the phone to call the plumber. “Expansion in the new pipes,” I was told. “Calm down and have a drink. ”

“It’s  eight o’clock in the morning,” I shouted, “I’ve got to go to work!”

“Have one when you get back, then, ” he said, chuckling. Those plumbers and their off-beat humour. Imagine, laughing at me and my plumbing while in the background, the pipes are expanding at a rate that would put a machine gun to shame.

As you might have guessed, all that banging did nothing for my nerves. I’m convinced the pipes have entered into an alliance of terror and have ganged up on me to reduce me to a quivering pulp. I knew this because whenever anyone else was around, they would lapse into a sullen silence.

Then a couple of days ago I knew I was in for it. There was a loud burp, followed by the sound of a fair-sized river running around the perimeter of the house. Then the heavy shelling started. I didn’t know if I should call the plumber or the armed forces. Then there was a gurgle followed by a loud hiss and then the machine guns and loud bangs went off  together in a big flourish reminiscent of the 1812 Overture. 

I grabbed a broom for defense and ran down into the basement. Water was pouring over the floor underneath the fixed shower stall.

I told the plumber about this new development and he has told me that my shower has to come out, that it’s leaking into the walls or something. I’m convinced that I don’t need a plumber, that an exorcist would work just fine. But calmer heads attached to functioning nerves have prevailed.

The plumber comes again tomorrow and I’ve stocked up. I have tranquilizers, earplugs and lots of whiskey. If you don’t hear from me again, send the army, or better yet, the navy. I’m sure they could use the live-fire practise.

 

Still Here, Still Reading

First of all, acknowledgements: I got this idea from Ramblings from a Mum, so thank you, Ramblings!

Over the last four months I’ve been recuperating from a major surgery and as I started to feel better I also started this blog. Now, all healed, it’s time for me to return to work.

Rusty recuperating after surgery
Rusty recuperating after surgery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This means that I won’t be able to make as many comments as I’ve been making – I shall often have to make do with just clicking “like.”

That doesn’t mean that I’m not reading. In fact, I don’t believe in following a blog unless I am going to read it. Otherwise, what’s the point? An attempt at better stats? Well, I suppose, but I believe that that somewhat defeats the point of having a blog. Isn’t it all about putting your writing and ideas out there to get some feedback, whether good or bad?

I have so very much enjoyed getting to “know” some of you. Scott Williams, Kimberly Harding, planetjan, ruleofstupid, Ramblings from a Mum, Teeny Bikini. The ideas, humour and honesty that you share with the rest of us are inspiring. I have learned so much from doing this and from  you, in particular.

To everyone who has either chosen to follow me, to click like, or just to stop and take a look, thank you. I never thought that so many of you would be interested in reading my  stuff.  So, I’m still here and still reading (and writing) – just with a little less time available!

Homeowner’s Bliss

Scottish Canadian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have water troubles. No, not that kind, the other kind. The kind that you find dripping in the basement. A lot of my troubles seem to start there.  If you remember, dear readers, I once found rats down there. If you don’t remember, you can read about them in a post I did called, curiously enough,  A Rat’s Tale.

Let me admit right from the start that I am a complete infant when it comes to the management of domestic machinery. Even the operation of the sink is a bit of a mystery.

However, ever since I moved in here it seems that there has been a conspiracy between two of the scariest bits of the house: the pipes and the furnace. I’m sure that they’re colluding to turn me into a sweating, quivering mass and get me wheeled out of here a la Amityville Horror, if a little less grandly.

The first fall I was here and still in the honeymoon stage of new homeowner’s bliss, I turned on the heat but didn’t get a wink of sleep. Every time I started to drift off there were these loud bangs and the sounds of water running. Now, you might say to yourself, it couldn’t have been that bad, but believe me, it was. Close-range artillery had nothing on it. And then there was the fear that I might have to build an ark.

So I got a plumber, a guy who grew up with Moses and knew more about pipes than the oil industry. He poked, prodded, stared and blinked. Then he stood by the back door and spat. “Old system,” he said. “Air in the pipes. Need to take the pressure off. One hour. $100.00.”

It turns out that I’ve got something called “radiant heat” which circulates hot water around the house. During the Roman days it was a good system but mine dates to the 1960s, a time when engineers felt they had to tinker with perfectly good stuff and screw it up. That’s what I have. Not the old-fashioned, really good, reliable version. The screwed up version. Air gets into it and it makes a lot of noise and a river runs through it.

The situation I’ve got going on now is a lot worse, though. Everything has sprung a leak. I keep wondering if there’s some sort of message that I’m not getting. There’s one from the kitchen sink. One from the dishwasher. One from the bathtub. One from the shower. There’s also some sort of problem with the venting. If you didn’t know already, as I did not (big surprise), improper venting will cause all kinds of water to back up, particularly all over the floor.

The plumber who came in to take a look initially tried to be polite and keep a straight face but later I could see him choking back gales of laughter. He was red-faced and almost suffocating. He was holding it in so hard that if he had let it slip, he would have blown his teeth out. I thought that I might have to get the portable defibrillator.

He wanted to take pictures. I kid you not. There’s probably some secret website or other where they share plumbing stories. There are probably gasps of awe and wonder as they gaze in astonishment and exclaim, “What the hell is THAT?”

I apparently bought a house with not only a weird furnace but also with the worst plumbing on the planet.  He estimated that at least four different people had had a go at it, and not one of them had read “Plumbing for Dummies.” My ex-narcissist, supposedly an expert on pipes, was one of the four. Why am I not surprised? Then I heard him muttering to himself something about it being a “handyman’s nightmare.”

The next thing he said was that if Mike Holmes saw my plumbing, he would have a heart attack. For those of you who don’t know, Mike Holmes is a renovation god who goes all over Canada fixing shoddy workmanship. His motto is “make it right.” Usually, he takes your house apart to do it. Now for me, hearing the words “Mike Holmes” and “heart attack” in the same sentence brought up one word: money.

“How much is this going to cost?” I wailed.

The plumber, a friendly young guy who was earnestly trying to be professional, starting shifting from one foot to the other.  As we stood there, another leak sprouted. I skipped nimbly back and in the process mashed several toes on a storage box. He swished through the water and started listing out all the stuff that had to be done.  I started hyperventilating, whether from the mashed toes or the cost or both.  In the end, after several big drinks of whiskey, I was able to recover, if a little unsteadily and still trying to stave off visions of bankruptcy.

He’s either replacing, moving or repairing six pipes. Then there’s the vent. It’s going to cost $1000.00. Since it’s such a strange get-up, I temporarily had thoughts of  throwing it open to the general public for a small admission fee, but he’s actually coming back in only a couple of days. Shot down again.

I’ll let you know how it goes and how the whiskey holds out.

Something to think about …

Rule of Stupid

Conflict comes because two people are searching for the truth and think they have contradictory information.

War comes because someone wants another person to agree with them regardless of the truth.

At the root of this, for me, is the way in which we become attached to ideas about ourselves and to our own actions. If we have an unhealthy relationship with ourselves, we are likely to go to war instead of having a healthy row.

For this argument there are two opposing positions to take in life:

One: all you say, do and create is an expression of you, and what happens to these expressions happens to you.

Two: Once you have said, done or created something, that thing has a separate existence from you – it’s nothing to do with you any more.

Just to give them names, we can call type Ones Clingers, and type Twos Refusers.

View original post 1,224 more words

Are You Flagging?

Red flag waving transparent
Red flag waving transparent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve to some extent discussed before how narcissists fly red flags signalling who and what they are. The problem is that most of us can see that the wind is blowing something around but we don’t know what it is.  If you’re like me, and raised on a sound diet of Hollywood movies, you’re going to set caution firmly aside, walk right up to this thing that’s blowing around and, sighing in relief, say, “It’s okay, it’s a pair of underwear!” Now, if you’re a lot like me, after a moment you’re also going to say, “Actually, it doesn’t really look like a pair of underwear, it might be a flag.” And then you’ll promptly talk yourself out of it because you can’t believe that there would be a flag blowing around, unattended, in the middle of the bald-ass desert.  Which is where you’re going to be if you don’t start recognizing that it’s a flag, and that really, there’s lots more than just one of them.  And anyway, why would it be more logical for a pair of underwear to be blowing around?

I knew you’d want to know. It’s because we want it to be a pair of underwear. Underwear blowing around? That’s funny. You can speculate endlessly on who owned them and how they got out there, all with humourous intent and lots of giggles and baa ha ha -ing.

But a flag? Everyone knows about flags.  Alert: this is mine, all mine. You don’t belong here. Danger: if you don’t leave, I’ll throw a rock at you. Or something worse. Aggression: I’m bigger and better than you. I’m going to mess you up and take your stuff.

Flags carry an incredibly heavy emotional load  and all of it is personal. I recently watched an Anthony Bourdain show about Madrid where the status of the Spanish flag was discussed. Until Spain won the World Cup of Soccer in 2010 and started to view their flag as a positive symbol, they were careful with it. They had viewed it as the flag of Francisco Franco, the dictator they were stuck with for 40 years until 1975 and therefore did not see it as a symbol of national pride.

Essentially, what the Spanish did for 35 years was either ignore or minimize the importance of their flag. It set off alarm bells, caused bad memories to re-surface and drove them into an uncomfortable place. That’s what red flags do, too.

So, even though our biology is telling us to be cautious, to be aware, we are just as capable of ignoring or minimizing those warnings. When it comes to narcissistic red flags, how far will we go to subvert our own better judgement?

Pretty far, if my own experience is anything to go by. For example, very early on I saw Harry’s ability to flip-flop, and that’s how I saw it, too. What I was ignoring were the first signs of his instability. These signs got lost in how brilliant he was at courting me – showering me with compliments and small presents. This was me: “Was that a red flag? No, it can’t be! Let me look at all these compliments instead …” I saw the flag but chose to turn it into a pair of underwear instead.

I also saw his sense of superiority and arrogance, too, but I chose to see them as indicative of a sort of bohemian intelligence a la Jack Kerouac. I came to realize how narrow his interests were – despite his protestations that he is a great reader, he reads only one author who writes mystery/suspense novels. I later saw that Harry likes to envision himself as this author’s central character – he is much more Walter Mitty than Jack Kerouac.

The fact that he owned very little while at the same time carrying an enormous debt load should have been another red flag and in fact was a red flag. I just got busy and rationalized it.  He had explanations for everything, explanations that seemed logical at the time: I live in a travel trailer because my work takes me all over the place. I have a lot of debt because of the lawsuit (some of you may recall that there were actually several lawsuits including one against him) – this followed by a diversionary discussion of how the two women he sued had ruined his life and how I was making it better. I certainly was! I had started paying out money for him, including paying one of his huge debts.

He claimed to be a great cook and in fact often was in the kitchen, but his abilities in that area were very narrow and adolescent. He kept making and eating the same things, most of it junk food. He was obsessed with fruit pies and kept making pastry over and over again and throwing out the results. He threw out lots of other things, too. My grocery bill kept rising and he made no attempt to contribute. I put it down to his culinary perfectionism and chose to listen instead to the siren song of his compliments.

Almost everything that he owned was in poor condition, although saying that he “owned” these items is fanciful, at best. The bank and various credit card companies owned them, and that’s part of the reason why they weren’t well maintained. He didn’t really have any investment in them.  He soon started treating my possessions with the same degree of disrespect and also for the same reason. To off-set any concerns I might have he kept saying that he would “soon” start contributing financially, but that never did happen.

There didn’t seem to be anyone in his life except me. There were no phone calls back and forth between him and his “friends” and his daughter didn’t generate any contact either. He kept telling me that I was the only person who understood him and I chose to start believing that.

During the first year of our relationship we were rather isolated. He had no interest in meeting my friends or family and in fact tried to avoid them. I thought it very affirming that he seemed so focussed on me.

He had no interest whatsoever in my family or family background except as it suited him – he chose to take my surname when we married. I thought that was a lovely tribute! He was just trying to re-invent himself while at the same time escaping some of his creditors.

He wanted to get married as quickly as possible.

With respect to our relationship he at one point told me that I “should be careful what [I] wish for.” He later soothed me by saying that he had just been in a “down mood.”

Before we started living together I seriously considered breaking it off with him, but I had never been much of a “no” person – I lacked personal boundaries – and I was also afraid of being the “bad guy.” Like many women, I wanted to maintain a friendly relationship with him, not cause a bitter split and treat him like the women of his past had treated him. Great, huh? He had so convinced me that I was different and special that even as I was thinking of getting out, I was still buying into his idealization of me. If that’s not master manipulation, I don’t know what is.

Do you see yourself here? Is there a pattern for you? Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t delude yourself. Don’t be afraid to look. Because if you see yourself here, then you’re flagging, and you really will be flagging unless you chose to see the flags and not the underwear.

Get out. It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty, and he (or she) will try everything, and I mean everything, to stay in your life. There will be crying, howling, cajoling, bribery, lying, threatening, shouting, sobbing and screaming. There might even be “suicide attempts” or “suicidal ideation.” None of this is real. It’s just a stage show designed to get you back so that he (or she) can continue to use you.  So you have to get out, either now or later. Don’t wind up regretting that you ignored the flags.

A Plague of Narcissists

  

English: The Plague of Flies, c. 1896-1902, by...
English: The Plague of Flies, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 6 15/16 x 7 3/8 in. (17.6 x 18.7 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m really not sure why this didn’t come up as one of the ten plagues of Egypt. I mean, it would have been a really good one to have.  These people look perfectly normal but are harbouring some of the worst characteristics there are. They could have been a sort of fifth column or Typhoid Mary. Good use could have been made of their natural talents.

They love drama and could have been fomenting plots.

Since everyone wishes they were them, they could have exercised some tenacious mind-control.

They seriously hate themselves and then they project it. So, there could have been a lot of tooth-nashing, mind-controlled followers who were constantly looking over their shoulders for back-stabbers, and therefore completely distracted.

Their constant re-invention would have made them difficult to track down.

Even if they were tracked down, their sense of superiority and ability to fly into a rage would have been very intimidating, crushing any attempts at bringing them under control.

They could have charmed all the kings, pharaohs, despots, crackpots, and so on into giving themselves bankrupt.

 Since they’re mostly a bunch of misogynists, they certainly would have had those women where they belong.

Their natural gift for instability would have had them organizing newer and better wars.

Their lack of gratitude, respect or humility for anyone but themselves would have made them impervious to tampering, tinkering or cajoling.

The shame they feel would have lead the populace to feel sorry for them instead of taking them down.

English: The Plague of Frogs, engraving publis...
English: The Plague of Frogs, engraving published in “La Saincte Bible, Contenant le Vieil and la Nouveau Testament, Enrichie de plusieurs belles figures/Sacra Biblia, nouo et vetere testamento constantia eximiis que sculpturis et imaginibus illustrata, De Limprimerie de Gerard Jollain” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A plague of narcissists? Yikes! Forget the frogs and flies and meteorites and boils and sores. Those Old Testament guys would have been in real trouble. Or maybe that is what they had to contend with. The pharaohs weren’t exactly a bunch of diffident, self-effacing humanists.

Maybe that’s what a lot of us have to contend with on a basis that’s much more frequent than we realize.

The person in the cubicle next to you who is jealous and envious.

The “friend” who likes to complain about your other friends.

The neighbour who sets two other neighbours against each other.

The boss who smiles at you one second and rips you apart the next.

I don’t know how much narcissism most of us have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, but it seems to be awfully widespread and at the root of a lot of the crap that goes on in the world.

So, if I wish anything for this new year, it’s that we start to realize how much egoism and self-absorption there is and that we all start to work on it in our own little ways and maybe start a cultural shift away from the selfishness that causes so much pain.

Sometimes, life is like that.