One of the reasons I enjoy writing a blog is so often I can just say what I think without doing any rigorous research. Things used to be more that way. Writers like Emerson and Thoreau were just giving us their ideas and even the early psychological speculation from Freud and Jung was just that: speculation. Today in most fields except perhaps, at least I would hope, philosophy, we have the scientific method and peer review and all kinds of things that just take all the fun out purely thinking about things and speculating.
Well today I am really speculating. I still struggle with Narcissism and when evil enters the picture. Of course the nature of evil is an interesting topic in itself because if evil actions are actually caused by childhood hurts then nobody is truly evil but instead are victims. Well, maybe so, but I have seen evil actions in others and yes myself so we will just say that evil actions are any actions that most normal and reasonable people would say are evil.
But here is where things get difficult. If I commit an evil action does that make me an evil person? I say no. I think it depends on the severity of the action, how frequently I perform such actions, and how I feel or think about those actions.
So now let’s tie this in with Narcissism. I see Narcissism as a spectrum. On one end are what I will call situational narcissists. I think there are a bunch of us that fit into that category unless someone is just an absolute doormat. I would put myself into this category and it is what allowed my ex N girlfriend to turns things around on me and tell that I was a Narcissist with no empathy. But there were some significant differences between me and a true Narcissist in these situations.
In my case, and in what I would define as situational narcissism, there are several behaviors common to Narcissists. For one I behaved selfishly and I saw it as something about which I could not compromise. In my case it was usually something related to my children but it has also come up in politically charged work situations. For another someone on the outside would easily be able to make a case about how my actions showed no empathy towards others affected.
But that is about as far as similarities with a true Narcissist went. In my case those situations didn’t happen that often. For a true Narcissist it is a common occurrence. Things are usually about their needs. Secondly, when it came to guilt and empathy I was usually very conflicted and I felt very guilty that I was not pleasing someone I cared about or maybe even hurting them. Narcissists don’t have that kind of struggle. They are entitled to have others meet their needs all the time and if the other person doesn’t they are the ones being selfish and uncaring.
But yet as I think about my ex Narcissist girlfriend I still can’t say she was evil. Controlling and self centered with a sense of entitlement you bet. She almost prided herself on her lack of empathy and said she had never felt guilty in her life. And oh how she could get angry and yell when things didn’t go her away and by the way don’t expect an apology when things calmed down.
But evil? I just can’t say she was evil. In some ways it would have been like saying a three year old was evil. I never knew her to lie or cheat. She would use others to get her way but she did it in a straightforward manner.
I think where you really start getting into the nature of evil is when you move further down the spectrum to where the Sociopath resides. It is there that you still have all the Narcissistic traits but now you have added cunning and manipulation and lying and cheating to the personality profile.
I have known my share of those that fit into this category. A number of them have been very successful particularly in the business world. Probably the one I know best is the man currently married to my ex wife. I am not inclined at this point to air all the reasons why he is on that Sociopathic scale. It is sufficient to say that winning was his prime motivation and I saw evidence of all that he was capable of as he transitioned from being a 10 year supposed family friend to the predator that he was and is. Of course so many people found it interesting that two people in a comfortable marriage could each get divorced and then end up with a Narcissist. Well at least I didn’t end up married to a Sociopath. Oops! That doesn’t sound very empathetic does it?