Just points along the continuum...
What happens if a person does manage to completely overcome their conscience so it disturbs them no more? Welcome to the unveiling of the psychopath. The psychopath has thrown off all constrictions of conscience and, consequently, societal strictures, thus making them capable of the most heartless and base crimes against humanity while they smirk and talk about how the victim deserved what they got. I'm not saying all, or even many narcissists, turn into psychopaths. There is no evidence for that, and I certainly don't believe it. I do believe it is accurate to assert, though, that all psychopaths are narcissists. More and more professionals are coming to see malignant narcissism as a continuum. A psychopath is the endpoint on that continuum of narcissism.
But our study here is the narcissist. The narcissist still has a conscience and, therefore, hides her crimes under a cloak of self-made righteousness. This pretense is unnecessary for someone who no longer has to assuage the urgent provocations of a conscience and no longer cares what others think (the psychopath).
How do we know the narcissist still has an operational conscience? Let's ask the question another way. How do we know the narcissist is aware of the difference between right and wrong? Because of the multiplied and extensive efforts they make to hide their bad acts. The truly insane person is defined as an individual who is unable to distinguish right from wrong and will therefore commit their crimes regardless of who is looking on. Their lack of any attempt to hide their crimes is how we determine they are insane, i.e. they lack rational ability and conscience. (By this definition, psychopaths are not insane. Rarely will our justice system allow a psychopath to claim insanity when the evidence shows the psychopath's many efforts to hide his crimes.) We don't see true insanity in the narcissist. We see them presenting an image of perfection to outsiders then going home to beat the wife and sexually abuse the kid. Then they will pull your face close to theirs and through snarling lips and gritted teeth tell you that if you try to expose their bad deed they will destroy you. This person knows what they are doing is wrong. They are careful as to when and where they commit their base acts. Only the helpless and the vulnerable get to see the fully unmasked narcissist. This is all the proof we need that they do indeed possess a conscience. Albeit, a perverted, abused and malfunctioning one.
The narcissist still has a conscience, as evidenced by their multiplied efforts to hide their bad acts. We have clear proof they know the difference between right and wrong. What are the implications of this reality? Tune in to future musings...
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
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