How does publishing these articles counter narcissism?
Hopefully in two ways— practicing radical honesty about one’s experiences and normalizing conversations about narcissistic behavior.
Our culture places so much self worth on being right, correct, or “realistic,” there isn’t a whole lot of regard to connecting fully and honestly with what you think and feel. Many become traumatized and quite disassociated with our reality as a result. It’s tempting to tell yourself what you think and feel after it has been filtered through what you believe is respectable or advantageous in society. This codes in cognitive dissonance, a double think between what you perceive and what you think you should perceive. Practicing radical honesty could help you break down mental barriers and connect you with where you’re really at in the present moment.
Even though Trump is our President, conversations about narcissistic behavior aren’t normalized yet. Racism, sexism, and transphobia are not treated as secrets by progressively-minded people, but for some reason, narcissism is treated like a secret conversation.
What about the ethics of talking about narcissism?
Racism, sexism, and homophobia are all manifestations of narcissistic behavior. Bigotry is not in the DSM-V, but it’s impacts are real to the mental health of most people. Personally, I disagree with the idea that it’s unethical to talk about narcissistic behavior. The mainstream approach today relies on avoiding Cluster B personalities, but I don’t know if that’s enough to shift our culture. My views on ethics continue to evolve and I look forward hearing others views.
Isn’t everyone at least a little narcissistic?
It’s no secret we live in a culture designed to reinforce narcissistic and codependent behaviors. The more anxious and less self-aware you are, the easier to get you to buy stuff and work silly jobs, right? The goal of countering narcissism isn’t to stamp out every narcissistic behavior, it’s to turn down a dial of intensity and ego-centric delusion towards community-centered empathic listening and mental health practices.
Ok, then what do you suggest is the solution?
Self and mutual awareness! Real, empathic dialogue! If we hold mirrors up to ourselves and recognize our trauma, personal and cultural transformations remain possible. Often people seem to be confused about ideals of, “kindness” or compassion that should be unconditionally extended to others. Trying to push an ideal of universal kindness to everyone isn’t real empathy, at worst it projects positive thoughts where they don’t belong. If you tell yourself to never judge others, you run the risk of disassociating from situations rather than fully face them. Because empathy is about comprehending the lived experience of others, sometimes empathy leads you to compassion, or empathy might horrify you with the suffering and violence going on around us. Sometimes empathy will lead you to standing up to people who will think you’re unkind or even judgmental for confronting them. Just like forgiveness isn’t blind nor proscribed for all situations, and requires real work, there is no simple solution for addressing the incredible harm caused by Cluster-B personality disorders and corresponding behaviors we collectively adopt from that spectrum.
You’re live streaming a lot— isn’t that narcissistic?
Valid question from anyone who asks this. Ultimately, I think recording everything and doing stream of consciousness writing was a trauma response to dealing with the situations I was in. It’s not unusual for targets of narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths to start recording everything as a way of coping with the effects of gaslighting. It’s also not unusual for codependents to have a life phase change where they have to practice being selfish in order to recalibrate personal boundaries. I had to record to trust my perception of reality and detach from my warped and exploitable need to always be, “selfless” to causes greater than myself. At the start I didn’t see it as trauma processing, though.
The factor that crystalized and actually convinced me to try transparentZak had to do with changes in worldview around automation and our increasingly encrypted internet. I genuinely wanted to know, if privacy isn’t possible, how do we live without it? Could someone run a company without privacy? Could people become so focused and prolific, with practice, to work through stream of consciousness, in real time? These are still open questions for me, but a new worldview on automation and privacy knocked on to fully confronting my codependence, then knocking on to a meditation-spectrum mind.
Most on the narcissistic spectrum have a lot of stuff bottled up inside of them, blocked out, and life is a very self-controlled affair. Even just witnessing someone writing stream of consciousness could be very threatening and disorienting— causing a flood of conscience to come through. As I published expressive writing, right away I started noticing a distinct division between the people I know. Some didn’t seem personally threatened by what I was doing and were capable of listening and giving feedback or advice, others remained vague and aggressive. I believe it’s possible to short-circuit narcissistic leaders with stream of consciousness writing and overt dialogue about narcissistic behavior, making counter-narcissistic organizing possible, and opening the door for the next generation of empathic leadership.
In order to live in this world without empathy, you have to wear a mask that covers whats going on inside. Radical transparency fundamentally throws off any ability to craft or put on a mask that tells people something other than reality. In my view, when we fully confront our humanity with transparency, all we can do is open to more and more empathic behavior in ourselves and others.
There’s something you wrote or said in the past that was narcissistic, what about that?
I fully admit how I was codependent for years, and it’s a recovery process. I often look back, like most codependents, and find myself disgusted with things I said, did, even thought. In college I literally had thoughts along the lines of, “I need to be able to lie better, manipulate the system better” because I saw the post powerful people in our society and how they were able to be successful based on their ability to operate without empathy towards others. Even during Jovanka’s campaign, while I really wanted to be an honest political operative, I still idealized becoming, “a machine” of a human— someone who could move through work with precision and strength. These kinds of delusions about the mind and body eventually crashed down. I’m still working on finding what recovery process I fully trust, but I’m done with trying to act like the narcissistic-spectrum groups and individuals I was codependent with.
Where can I learn more about these topics?
The Empathy Trap by Dr. Jane McGregor
I’m tired! Will get back to this.