How do you humiliate a narcissist
Are you a narcissist?
Since the day Donald Trump was nominated for the presidency, anyone who reads newspapers has known the hallmarks of narcissism by heart. Trump's critics in particular never tire of portraying the new US president as a textbook narcissist. Not without reason - it shows typical characteristics.
Excessive self-esteem: "I will be the greatest job president God has ever created." Self-idealization: "I alone can fix it." Increased insult and devaluation of his opponents: "Meryl Streep is one of the most overrated actresses", " Angela Merkel is insane ”.
Whether this behavior really suggests a narcissistic personality disorder, or whether Trump's narcissistic behaviors are just more pronounced than the average, the experts are not as unanimous as it seems in the media reports. Because we all have narcissistic impulses. "Everyone shows narcissistic behavior from time to time," explains the psychiatrist and neurologist Prim. Univ. Prof. Dr. Reinhard Haller, author of "The Narcissus Trap".
Especially when you suddenly gain power, but even under the influence of alcohol you can temporarily react narcissistically. “One speaks of a narcissistic personality disorder when this behavior is permanently present and remains constant for years. Narcissism only becomes dangerous when there is also a criminal element. "
Remote diagnosis is unethical
It is precisely this criminal element that the American psychology professor John D. Gardner thinks he can diagnose in Trump when he publicly describes him as a “malignant narcissist” and “sociopath”. The Viennese psychiatrist and neurologist Univ. Doz. DDr. Raphael M. Bonelli considers such remote diagnosis to be unethical. “A malignant narcissist would be a sadist. Someone who tortures his victims and often even kills them, ”says Bonelli. “Trump has narcissistic signs, but you shouldn't exaggerate just because you don't agree with his policies.” Too often, psychiatry has allowed itself to be abused by totalitarian regimes. "The psychiatric diagnosis must not become a club in political dealings with one another, because that makes relationships impossible."
Politics has always seemed to be a stage on which narcissists who are in love with themselves can gloriously, but also dangerously, live out their inclinations. And not just the big ones. This is also confirmed by Volker Plass, former federal spokesman for the green economy and long-time political observer. “While there is a wide range of characters in politics, I believe that it tends to attract people with narcissistic tendencies. You can find them in every party, by the way. They then see politics as a power game, build a personality cult around themselves, work on their media presence ... These people are not particularly known for their team orientation and also go over dead bodies internally to promote their careers. ”And they are coming too more often to the decision-making positions. "Stating that the brawl often has more of an effect in politics than substantive expertise and thoughtfulness."
So narcissistic behavior works, even with the voters. Plass even says that people's expectations often meet narcissists. “Many voters tend to be strong types, they want to be led, they want to give up their responsibility. But that also means that problematic characters often come to power. "
The narcissist in us
Trump undoubtedly presents himself as a problematic character. Why he was elected president anyway is explained from a psychological point of view: “The ideals of the whole society have already become very narcissistic. That is why Trump was elected - not in spite of, but because he is narcissistic ”, Haller is convinced, and thereby also draws attention to social-psychological issues. Because, as I said, we all have narcissistic impulses. And they seem to be widespread.
In any case, the narcissistic devaluation has long since become socially acceptable in Bonelli's eyes, namely in the form of the culture of indignation. "One is more and more indignant about the political view of the other and no longer accepts it: 'You don't talk to him", "You can't form a coalition with him", etc. "This exclusion is relatively new. Political correctness also belongs there. “I call this moral narcissism, because morally you place yourself above those who think differently and deny the other person's democratic rights. This works “left versus right” as well as “right versus left”. Even the dubious remote diagnoses by Trump critics themselves have a narcissistic tinge because they devalue it personally, ”says Bonelli.
The way out
Arguments to deal with narcissistic behavior are inherently difficult. Because in his world the narcissist is of course always right. It is even more difficult to cure a sick narcissist. In his book “Male Narcissism” Bonelli shows a possible way out of the narcissistic fetters. What must be clear from the outset: You cannot change a narcissist, only he can change. And that's not quite as unthinkable as it seems at first glance. Because this extreme self-centeredness does not always lead to great success - much more often to great personal suffering, and therefore sometimes even to the practice of the psychiatrist.
This suffering arises mainly from the fact that the ideal image that the narcissist carries of himself does not correspond to reality. Problems in dealing with others are thus programmed. “Narcissists, for example, are disappointed in the world, which they do not want to perceive and admire with their incredible talent. If the thunderous applause does not come, they are pissed off. In fact, they are not able to assess themselves for who they really are, ”explains Bonelli.
As a result of this “narcissistic offense”, the person affected not only harms others, but also himself in the long term, as he thereby prevents his own sense of community and his integration into the group. If there were the purely narcissistic people who only perceive themselves, that would not matter to them either. But there is no such thing, according to Bonelli. Even those who show strong narcissistic behaviors have a healthy part in them at the same time. “The healthy part suffers from the narcissistic part. And narcissists can be reached through this healthy portion. "
But it's not easy. Dealing with a narcissist is much more like a tightrope act. On the one hand, his counterpart must point out how hurtful his actions can be. On the other hand, this must not degenerate into frontal criticism. Because the narcissist reacts to this reflexively deeply hurt and with a - guaranteed painful - counterattack.
According to Bonelli, the key to successful therapy therefore lies in self-knowledge combined with the narcissist's will to give up his problematic behaviors. In order to stimulate this self-knowledge in the narcissistic counterpart, Bonelli advises you to search for your own narcissistic components. “It is healthy when you recognize this in yourself. And if I then admit my own narcissistic parts to the great narcissist, then he can more easily recognize and admit them in himself. "
Normal or Diseased?
- The narcissist feels terribly important or unique, accordingly demands excessive admiration and constantly expects to receive preferential treatment.
- Arrogance and pride are part of his approach to life.
- Envy is his constant companion: either because he is jealous of others or because he is convinced that others would be jealous of him.
- He cultivates fantasies of unlimited success, energy, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
- In interpersonal relationships he is exploitative and uses others for his goals.
- He doesn't show empathy.
- Criticism deeply humiliates the narcissist and leaves a feeling of emptiness. He reacts with anger or counterattack.
Everyone exhibits narcissistic behaviors at times, some people have constant narcissistic personality traits. Only when these cause suffering in the person concerned or in his environment, one speaks of the narcissistic personality disorder. And only malignant narcissism is dangerous, as it also leads to criminal acts.
The narcissism trap.
Instructions for people and self-knowledge
ISBN 978-3-711-00037-8, 208 pages,
Ecowin publisher, € 21.90
Raphael M. Bonelli
The drama of love revolving around itself
272 pages, Verlag Kösel, € 20.60
As of 05/2017
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