What I’m about to talk about may be controversial but honestly, I don’t care because I think it’s an important issue. I know some might even think me evil myself for even attempting to understand the dynamics I see going on in the narcissistic abuse community, especially online.
Since I became self-aware I’ve been doing a lot of posting on a support forum for self aware (mostly covert) narcissists and borderlines who hate their disorder. To my surprise, I’ve noticed a LOT of guilt among some of the narcissists (some of who, admittedly, may not actually be narcissists at all but think they are–which could be the case for me too). Frankly, at first, this surprised me. I expected a bunch of trolls and bullies and generally nasty people (due to how pervasive the stereotype of all narcs being evil is).
Overall, the guilt and remorse I’m seeing among the narcissists on this particular forum is a good thing, because it’s caused some of them to try to do something about it–make up for the wasted years, make amends to the people they have hurt, and in some cases, even try to change behaviors or heal from NPD. The presence of guilt means some them still have a conscience. Narcissists who have no remorse or shame probably wouldn’t be posting there at all, or if they did, their attitude would be in stark contrast to most of the posts there. (In fact, the ASPDs and malignants seem to like to troll the forum and make snarky jokes about how stupid and pointless they think all the guilt is–and a few even like to “rub in” the fear of hell and hopelessness, just to be sadistic).
But I’ve also noticed a lot of fatalism and hopelessness–some narcissists on the forum seem to think they’re evil to the core (even though they have a guilty conscience) and are hopeless and destined for hell. It’s as if some low-mid spectrum narcissists (and probably some non-narcissists who think they are) have drank the Koolaid some of the extreme victims are dishing out about all Ns being demons or monsters with no human emotions at all. I find this disturbing and I’ll get to why here in a minute.
I believe in No Contact and not associating with narcissists if it can be helped, and I definitely believe there’s a spiritual dimension to this disorder (and that includes all the Cluster B disorders). I also think that narcissistic behaviors are evil and what’s more, unlike other mental illnesses, narcissism can infect victims and eventually even turn them into narcissists themselves. So, yes, it’s a very dark disorder involving a decided spiritual element. They can be very dangerous. That’s a fact. So if someone is a known narcissist, it’s in your best interests to get away from them. The damage they can inflict is very real. It happened to me.
But as for the narcissists themselves? I think in most cases, they are still human. I don’t agree with some that God has forgotten those who sincerely want to get better and do the hard (and it is hard!) work necessary for healing or change. I think the stigmatization of Cluster B disorders, narcissism in particular, is damaging because those who want to change and are willing to go through the necessary pain to do so, are told they’re hopeless and to forget it. Even therapists don’t want to deal with anyone with an NPD diagnosis or even a BPD diagnosis.
This attitude has even extended to people who try to understand narcissism and the abuse that led to it (even though they don’t condone or approve of it)–abuse victims and others who make an attempt to understand NPD or even BPD are dismissed as being as bad as narcissists themselves and accused of enabling, being narc-lovers, and even siding with the devil. While I do understand the attitude of those who demonize, especially because of the horrific abuse some victims were subject to, I still think it’s a form of splitting and damaging to people with Cluster B disorders who are not high on the spectrum or wanting to heal.
This attitude also fosters a culture of fear and hatred, and that isn’t good for victims either, because how can you heal from abuse when you’re consumed with terror and loathing? It’s as if they’re allowing the narcissists who abused them to still continue to abuse them–from inside their minds. Even if they’re NC with their abusers, they keep dwelling on the victimization and can’t move to a place of healing or ever becoming happy, whole people.
I do think there are truly evil people (malignant narcissists and unrepentant psychopaths and sociopaths) who do seem to lack any semblance of humanity or any self awareness or willingness to change. I’ve seen the “black eyes” some victims talk about. I used to see them on my ex. It’s real and very frightening. But I don’t think all or even most narcissists are that far gone, and the ones who have become self aware and want to change have become that way for a reason. The “point of no return” has not been crossed. So I think there is hope for some.
There’s one blog I really like. It’s not specifically about narcissism, but the blog owner, who is a Christian pastor, writes about narcissism every Friday. Unlike many of the victim sites, he attempts to understand narcissists from a spiritual perspective and doesn’t spew hate and fear, while at the same time he doesn’t condone or encourage enabling of the things they do.
I think this is an important issue because of all the splitting and black and white thinking and stereotyping going on the web (which is in itself very narcissistic or at least borderline). I think it’s possible to be a narcissist who can change. I also think most the narcissists posting on the forum I’m speaking of aren’t anywhere near as bad as they’ve been painted to be. If there’s guilt and remorse present, then it follows there’s a feeling human being in there somewhere. Narcissists who have become self aware–especially those desiring to change–didn’t do so for no reason except to torment themselves with guilt and shame.
A few others have noticed the trend too. Sam Vaknin and Spartanlifecoach (Richard Grannon) recently collaborated on a video that discusses the demonization of narcissism–once considered merely a mental illness–to mythological, even biblical proportions: