It seems the culture of narcissism has been sneaking into our societies over the last few years and, nowadays, seemingly all of a sudden, we appear to have a multitude of narcissists and psychopaths living amongst us.
Interestingly, if you consider that the media and the arts are a reflection of what is happening in society, there are more and more movies, TV series and books about narcissists and psychopaths today than ever before.
The idea of the psychopath and the narcissist as serial killer or serial rapist is changing. Unfortunately by the time people realize they are dealing with destructive narcissism, they have already been victimized and are looking for a way to escape from the terror and abuse.
In this article I will explore three areas and how they are being affected by narcissism: the workplace, families and the new age ideas.
For many years, leadership programs have been teaching people how to develop their charisma and people management skills. There are courses on decision making, risk management, influencing others, stress management and so on.
These things are seen as desirable qualities for those in management and leadership positions.
Another important aspect that we need to consider in the corporate world are all the changes there have been in the last few decades. Corporations went global, they merged and expanded very rapidly. The organizational structure changed depending on the 'fad du jour'. In fact, 'change' and 'adapt' were buzzwords and were added to the list of desirable traits.
The pace of life got faster, the risks greater. Shakers and movers were desirable assets for a company. And the potential rewards, both for the company and the individual, rose considerably. There was more power available for those at the top of big organizations.
Organizations were hiring confident, risk-taking folks who could remain cool under pressure and who could get people to do things for them. They wanted people who could deal with situations with little or no emotion. They wanted people that would advance the company and allow it to take more market share from the competition and make more profits. They wanted people who were motivated and ambitious, even ruthless.
What they got were psychopaths and narcissists. The culture of narcissism had arrived to the corporate workplace.
The narcissists lied their way into the organization, feigning leadership qualities, forging qualifications and references.
They were supposedly bringing some leadership qualities but what they often brought were often thinly disguised callousness, manipulation, disrespect for authority, willingness to bend the rules and a distinct lack of ethics and morals.
But these things were justified because of the results: the bottom line.
The culture of narcissism, however, is leaving behind it a trail of destruction. Good people are fired or leave because they can take no more. Authority figures lose their authority, people's morale is damaged and the physical and mental abuse takes it's toll on all affected. Much time is wasted repairing all of these things as well as actually fighting the narcissist while they remain in the company. The cost of this kind of damage is difficult to calculate.
Looking at the big picture in the world today, the banks are bankrupt and have shifted their debts to the people. Some have even managed to bankrupt their own governments. The people at the top are getting richer and the poor poorer. There is no evidence that the leaders are looking after others. There is a lot of evidence that they are taking care of themselves.
But the system is failing. The current situation is unsustainable. Simply printing money is not going to work. It has never worked in the past. It hasn't worked up to now. There is no reason to think it is going to work this time.
Who knows what the result of the culture of narcissism in the workplace will be?
One common belief is that narcissistic parents create narcissistic children. They inflate the ego of their children so much that it becomes pathological and the child grows up self-centered, demanding and acting just like the parents. But this does not occur in all children of narcissists and not all narcissists have narcissistic parents.
Some believe that if the parents, narcissistic or not, lavish too much praise on their kids they will grow up with a false sense of their own importance. The child's reality is very one sided and all he or she knows is that the source of their information tells them that they are superior.
Sometimes a lack of praise and appreciation is said to give rise to an inadequate development of their sense of self in relation to others, and they grow up with narcissism traits.
If we look for the culture of narcissism in families there are 2 very disturbing trends becoming evident. The first is reported by teachers in schools, the second is reported by parents themselves.
Many teachers report difficulty in maintaining control in their classrooms. A great description comes from one elderly teacher with many years of experience. She said that kids nowadays are treated as kings in their homes and they come to school acting as if they are kings there, too. They expect everything to be done for them and don't think the usual rules apply to them.
The second trend is that of increasing number of parents who have to call the police or even sue their children to try and control them. The children do what they want in the house. Literally. They skip school. They verbally and physically abuse the parents. Some parents have even put up reinforced doors in their bedrooms to protect themselves!
The culture of narcissism is obvious here, too. Even more worrying is that these kids are sometimes as young as 8 years old. If they are like this at 8, what will they be like at 16?!?
And it's 50:50 boys to girls. Normally boys commit more crimes than girls, but not so in abusing their parents. There are as many young girls mistreating their parents as young boys!
In one newspaper report a distraught mother said 'The only thing I did was love my son too much'. Presumably this means allowing him to rule the household from a young age.
Parents take note. You are parents to your children. Not friends. Not equals. Not servants. Act like parents if you want to change the culture of narcissism that is developing in children.
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- Have perfect days every day where you cannot put a foot down wrong
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These are just some of the things being offered by new age personal development courses. But let's think about them rationally for a moment.
How can everyone be fabulously wealthy? Or have unlimited success? What does that mean anyway?
What kind of person wants to get any woman into bed? Normal healthy males don't think like that.
Who has perfect days every day? Who has remarkable success in all areas of their lives? These are impossibilities.
There is lots of stuff about increasing your personal this, that or the other. Feeling good has become more important than sorting out your day-to-day problems. Finding your true self takes priority over maintaining your marriage.
But what is the point of all that if you are all alone, or ignoring others, or worse, walking all over others? We are social creatures and thrive when we are with others. We all like to have family and friends close.
Oh, wait! Back to the culture of narcissism!
Of course, narcissists and psychopaths think like this. They think they are entitled to fabulous wealth and success (or they already have the unlimited success!), they use their personal skills to manipulate, deceive, terrorize and generally con people out of their money and into bed. And they make their decisions irrespective of others and never take responsibility for anything.
The other thing is that very often you have to do courses with these people and in order to have what they have, you have to do what they do. But being a narcissist allows them to do things that you would never even consider, such as mind control and abuse of others.
So you will never be able to get what they say they have. Remember they are practiced liars too. They often don't actually have what they say they have.
The classic example is a relationship course where you will supposedly learn how to love passionately etc and the narcissist or psychopath who is giving it, by definition, is incapable of love. Or a wealth attraction seminar given by a psychopath who has huge credit card debt!
And yet all these unrealistic things are being offered, and accepted, as possible and desirable. How come? Back to the culture of narcissism...
Football sensations, actors and actresses, rock stars, outstanding athletes. Fame and fortune. "They have it all!"
What does that mean? It means that in our culture money and recognition is desirable and revered and we are told it's what we should be aiming for.
By whom? The media.
The same media that are governed and controlled by the rich...
In order to protect yourself in the culture of narcissism in which we live, it's useful to understand malignant narcissists and how and why they do what they do.
And if you are actually in a relationship with a narcissist, learn about dealing with a narcissist...
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?
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Are you realizing that your life is not how you want it to be, despite following your group's ideas faithfully? Do you have conflicts about what you see going on in the group?
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