What time is it?
It’s time to get over the idea that insight is therapeutic.
Those psychotherapists who still believe that they are in the business of doling out insights are not going to like the news.
Then again, how did they ever come to believe that a mere idea, a wisp of a thing, if even that, is going to cure what ails you.
Hopefully, they are not so addicted to this idea that they get DTs.
The new research on narcissism should disabuse them of their belief.
If therapists are still hoping that they can cure a narcissist by telling him that his precious and charming personality is really a disease, they are not going to be happy to read the new research.
Telling someone that his personality fits into a bona fide category in the bona fide DSM IV does nothing to impel him to change his errant and arrant ways.
If you read Jeffrey Kluger’s report in Time Magazine, you will be struck by the fact that narcissists are well suited to one-night stands, but ill-suited to long term relationships.
All things considered, this must give us pause.
In Kluger’s words: “It's a deep and all but certain truth about narcissistic personalities that to meet them is to love them, but to know them well is to find them unbearable. Confidence quickly curdles into arrogance; smarts turn to smugness, charm turns to smarm. They will talk endlessly about themselves, but when they ask about you — well, never mind, because they never do.”
I doubt that a man (or woman) can live on one-night stands alone, but our culture encourages them.
If adult Americans attain puberty during their teen years and choose, thanks to cultural influences, to marry in their thirties, then they are more likely to have more one-night stands and fewer relationships.
If they choose to postpone marriage in favor of career advancement, then relationships are a threat to their careers. The culture has primed them for one-night stands.
Those of us who are older, and presumably, wiser, believe that one-night stands are bad for most sentient humans.
Still, if that is what you know, then you will have developed the skills that make you a more proficient pick-up artist, or make it more likely that you will be picked up.
A narcissist is the kind of person who is most likely to thrive under such conditions.
If a narcissist is being rewarded for his narcissism with a steady stream of hot, commitment-free sex, it’s not going to be very easy to persuade him that there is something wrong with his personality.
The same applies to celebrities, especially those who work on short-term projects, like movie shoots or recording sessions.
People who work in an office or on a team are going to have a very strong incentive to get over their narcissism.
Narcissists are not, however, going to take it all lying down. They will defend their arrogance. As the eminently narcissistic architect, Frank Lloyd Wright said: “Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no reason to change."
This means that Frank Lloyd Wright should not be your role model. It also tells you that it is difficult to treat narcissism if you live in a culture that values authenticity over sociability.
If you do really do not care about other people beyond serial quickie encounters, or if you are so thoroughly infatuated with your own greatness that you see no need to have other people in your loife, then you can only overcome these habits with hypocrisy and fakery.
If one set of social skills makes you great at short-term encounters, then, if you should want to develop long-term relationships, you will need to learn new social skills
Narcissists love themselves, true enough. They receive rewards for their self-love. Yet, many of them remain narcissists because they do not know any better.
If the narcissist knows in his heart that he is better than everyone and that he need not descend to their level, then he needs to train himself to show respect and consideration towards other people.
At first, it will not feel natural; it might even feel hypocritical.
If authenticity allows people to rationalize rudeness, then perhaps we should be on better terms with inauthenticity.
Narcissism is impervious to insight. What it really needs is what I will call outsight, but only in the sense that it knows how it looks to other people.
Insight will not motivate the narcissist to change his ways. For that he will need to look at himself as though he were looking at someone else. If Narcissus did not recognize that the image he was looking at was his own, then narcissists need to understand that their feelings about themselves are inaccurate representations of how they look to others.
A narcissist might become mesmerized by his beauty, but he should also be made to see that, for all of his boundless self-esteem, he looks to the world like a complete and utter fool. Narcissists are trapped in an aesthetic; they need to learn to function according to an ethic.