Why have I studied how not to be narcissistic? Because we all come standard equipped to be narcissistic, therefore, it is easy to be a narcissist. The basic equipment we are born with is bent toward narcissism, not toward sainthood. The path to being good is rocky, uphill, hard, and often lonely. Why do people admire saints? Because it was easy? Quite the opposite, we know it was hard.
Maybe you haven't come to my conclusions about the nature of human kind, so let's look at it from another angle.
Think about how people in general talk about good behaviors vs. vices. We don't talk about how we are "tempted" to do good. No, we talk about temptations to do vice, to do wrong. If our nature was naturally bent toward being good then we would be enticed and attracted and, dare I say, tempted to deeds of goodness and virtue. When virtue and vice are standing before us we would find ourselves drawn out after virtue if we were naturally bent toward being good. But, no, our language never goes in that direction. We talk about the pull, the attraction, the desire for vice. We talk about doing good as being "character building", which we all know immediately means it is at least a little painful to our natures to be consistently good.
Then there is the reality of young children. Anyone who is honest with what they see in their young ones is acutely aware that children are born barbarians. We have to teach them to be civilized. For example: we know that we don't have to teach little, bitty kids how to lie; we have to teach them not to lie. The ability and desire to lie comes standard equipment on all kids. I love the Mark Twain quote about the second lie he ever told:
I do not remember my first lie, it is too far back; but I remember my second one very well. I was nine days old at the time, and had noticed that if a pin was sticking in me and I advertised it in the usual fashion, I was lovingly petted and coddled and pitied in a most agreeable way and got a ration between meals besides. It was human nature to want to get these riches, and I fell. I lied about the pin–advertising one when there wasn’t any. You would have done it; George Washington did it, anybody would have done it. During the first half of my life I never knew a child that was able to rise above that temptation and keep from telling that lie.In other words, Twain recognized a simple and easily observable truth. We are born liars. He also recognized another truth: We come out of the womb wanting what we want when we want it. Self control, self denial, truth-telling even when scared or caught, delay of self gratification, all are qualities that have to be instilled; they do not come standard equipment for the human race. The thread of civilization is as thin as the current generation's parenting ability. If today's parents are not doing the hard work of civilizing their little barbarians, the break down of civilization follows hard on the heels of this failure. We are not born naturally good. So the struggle and the achievement we have to work toward, to strive after, is that of not following the clamors of our baser selves and making the serious effort it takes to be consistently good. This higher calling is the calling the malignant narcissist rejects at a very early age. If we would be different than they, we have to do the hard work. One of the consistent hallmarks of narcissists is that they lie. They lie often and well. They are also energetic at getting their own way all the time and in their own time. How is this not like the uncivilized baby? Arrested development is the most apt descriptor of the narcissist. What is easier? Remaining a baby, or growing up? The answer is obvious.
I have made the observation on my blog that the evil course is the easy course. It is the path of least resistance to study the easiest course and to only do what comes easy. I have tried to make the point that what comes easy for humanity is vice. The reality is that most of the time the easy path is the path to evil outcomes. Regardless of our motivation when we set out...if we only study our own comfort we will likely end up hurting others and destroying our own happiness if not our own souls.
My corollary to the path to evil is found by taking the easy course is:
Becoming and being a narcissist is a slide on ice.
It is a cinch. It is the most gutless choice you can make. It is the easy, downhill course. It is simply doing what comes naturally. If our human nature is naturally ungood, then following our natural inclinations is going to end up on the road to hell. It requires no courage, no guts, to become a narcissist.
Therefore, I hold out no respect and very little compassion for those dedicated to getting their own way all the time, i.e. narcissists. They expend all their compassion on themselves, and themselves only, therefore I feel no need to waste mine on them. I will save compassion for those who are resisting evil, not caving into it. Respect? I have none for the narcissist. What have they accomplished? Why should we admire (the basis of respect) someone who consistently picks out the easiest course? Do we admire heroes because they did something easy? Hardly. We all instinctively know that the heroic requires rising above self-interest and making a monumental effort on someone else's behalf. There is nothing easy about being a hero because it goes against self-interest. We all know in our hearts that going against our own self-interests is what is hard. When does the narcissist go against their self-interests? We can safely assert the answer is never. They are the living anti-thesis of heroism.
Too often, people to look for complicated reasons for why the malignant narcissist has turned predatory and heartless. They seem to do this exercise out of some need to feel compassion for the narcissist's excuse less behaviors. For some reason we seem willing to take on, as a society, the blame for those who have done nothing more than refuse to buck their bent nature. For the most part, it is the pointy-headed "intellectuals" who have come up with this self-flagellating reasoning in order to avoid recognizing that some among us actually choose to become evil. Why is it so repugnant to the modern mind that some people are evil...and they choose to be that way? I think it is because to admit to human evil is to land us right back into the bailiwick of religion. Discussions on the nature of man and the remedies for maladies of the soul are the areas that religion is meant to deal with. Science is ill equipped for dealing with dis-eases of the souls of humanity. A hundred years of psychotherapy have not alleviated the mental and emotional ills of the masses. If anything, the argument can be made that mankind is worse, not better, for the intervention of the priests of psychology.
Hardships do not a narcissist make. Hardships that are overcome and endured make us into better people if we consistently make choices against our naturally selfish inclinations. Nothing like hardship to test our resolve to do good when shit is going down all around us. Too often we assume that the hardship of a bad early childhood explains the creation of the narcissist. This is not true. Far too many people have come out of very difficult childhoods to become decent, loving and largely other-centered rather than self-centered for these circumstances to excuse or explain the narcissist. Hardships test us. They bring out the truth of who we really are. It is not days of ease and prosperity which prove our mettle. How you act and react under pressure is the true measure of your character. Any hardships the narcissist has experienced have revealed their character, not determined it.
Let us be honest with reality. The reality is that the narcissist has consistently and persistently chosen the easiest route. The route that did not go against their nature. They simply followed the stream of human selfishness. If we want to insure that we are different than the narcissist, we must choose to swim upstream against our naturally selfish inclinations. It is never easy to swim against the tide especially if there are rip tides and undercurrents (genetics, for example). But this is why we admire truly good people; we recognize that it is not by accident or ease that a good person became good.
Narcissism -- the course of the coward, the gutless, the morally lazy, the supremely selfish.