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Narcissists, scapegoats and the golden child

A few months ago, I said I would be revisiting the topic of narcissists.  It might have been Phillip Zimbardo’s book, The Lucifer Effect, that lead me to read more on narcissism and malignant narcissism.  Or maybe it was one of those moments that we all have from time to time when something we see that is out of focus suddenly snaps into place.  I had interactions with many narcissists last year in every possible area of my life.  The one at work was particularly awful. But whatever it was that finally clued  me in, I realized how narcissism has been allowed to run amok.

We all have the capacity for narcissism. Most healthy human beings have to be somewhat narcissistic to survive.  In this economic environment, we have all been pushed a bit further on the spectrum because a false sense of scarcity has been created and we are all competing for the same piece of the pie.  It pays to be more selfish, to project more confidence and talent than we actually have, and to adopt an “every woman for herself” attitude.  But most of us do not have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a way of seeing the rest of the world as merely actors in the play we wrote ourselves and are directing.

Here are the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
  • Is obsessed with him- or herself.
  • Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
  • Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
  • Becomes furious if criticized.
  • Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
  • Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
  • Requires extreme admiration for everything.
  • Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
  • Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
  • Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
  • May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
  • Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.

– See more at: http://www.bandbacktogether.com/adult-children-of-Narcissistic-parents-resources/#sthash.HtiA1zJT.dpuf

Based on the number of politically tone deaf statements from the plutocrats about how the rest of us envy their success, it has become painfully obvious that there is a surplus of narcissists at the top. But you might be surprised by how many people with NPD hide behind religion.  A very religious person is very hard to criticize and our social structure gives them a convenient cover screen.  How could a person who praises the lord and loves Jesus (and lets you know about it all. the. time.) be selfish, manipulative and malicious? It’s a brilliant place to be if you want control but want to come off looking sweet and pious while simultaneously believing that you are superior to others because you have The Truth.  Many cult-like and high control fundamentalist religious organizations encourage this kind of narcissism in their converts. The Duggar family is a perfect example of this mindset.

And then there is the right wing noise machine that seems to encourage a base narcissism in its target audience.  The unlucky “deserve” what they get while the rich “deserve” what they’ve gotten.  And what’s wrong with saying things that are racist?  You’re allowed to be a racist if you want to be.  (I’m just paraphrasing the incredible things I’m hearing from the Fox News crowd lately.  Personally, I think racism is revolting in thought, word and deed.) Putting people down to make yourself look superior is a hallmark of a narcissist, although I doubt that these same Fox News watchers would be as comfortable saying it’s Ok to be anti-semitic.  Just a guess.

The relationships that develop in a family poisoned by a narcissistic parent illustrate on a micro scale what can be projected to a wider audience in the political sphere.  In a family when one of the parents has narcissistic personality disorder, the children in the family are frequently pitted against one another.  The NPD parent designates one of the children as the scapegoat.  The role of the scapegoat may rotate but it’s usually one particular child that is targeted.  This child is usually the more sensitive child, the one who doesn’t play the game and flatter the narcissist, the truth teller.  When the NPD parent injures this child using emotional manipulation and encouraging the others in the family to “mob” (bullying by group), the NPD parent gets a whiff of narcissistic supply.  They get off on control and their ability to make someone else feel inferior, to sabotage and limit their success. The goal of the NPD parent is to make the scapegoat bend to her will by using ostracism, mockery, malicious gossip and alienation.  Yeah, imagine living with that.

The golden child, on the other hand, can do no wrong.  No matter how much the kid screws up, the NPD parent will make excuses.  It’s not his fault.  The problem started before he came along.  He needs time to mature.  He will never suffer the consequences of his behavior nor will there be any criticism of his limitations.  Indeed, any minor accomplishment is made to look magnificent.

And then there are the flying monkeys.  Flying monkeys are the siblings, and others, who act as the hit men for the NPD parent.  They are sent on missions to obtain information from the scapegoat that gets reported back to the NPD parent.  The parent then uses that information to spread rumors, gossip and malicious mockery through his or her own actions or the actions of the flying monkeys.  The gossip may contain a hint of truth but this is usually blown out of proportion.  The more voices that propagate the gossip, the greater the negative effect on the scapegoat.

So, here’s my leap from micro to macro and what we will be subjected to for the next two years until the presidential election.  The narcissists are in charge.  They control the horizontal and the vertical.  All the moneys are belong to them and they are determined to extract every penny of what they think they are owed.  They will do this by conscripting the US government to cover their debts even if it means impoverishing the tax base.  They don’t see labor as consisting of real people.  Labor is a resource to be used when it is needed and discarded when it is not.

I’d like to use the term exploitative profit mining to describe the effect of unfettered narcissistic capitalism on the general public and predict that this will continue to result in economic instability and eventually, the dangerous undermining of democratic governments.  The early and mid 20th century saw the negative fallout of this kind of behavior with WWI, the Great Depression and WWII.  I’d hate to think we are going to have to live through those kinds of upheavals again but the rise of ultra right wing and nationalistic parties in Europe in the wake of austerity, as well as the political chaos caused by the Tea Party fanatics here in the US have me very worried that we’re headed for trouble.

Over the past 6 years, we have become all too familiar with the typical behaviors and attitudes of narcissists.  Do not look to them for any sense of empathy.  They do not possess it and the only mechanisms for keeping them in check have been abandoned at this point.  Check out any review of Tim Geithner’s book, Stress Test, if you want to know what he,  the lieutenant of the narcissists, did on their behalf.  Keep in mind the characteristics of narcissists as you read it.

Their most significant triumph to date has been to get their golden child elected.  The scapegoat is Hillary Clinton.  Look at any comment section of a left leaning blog and you will find this is true.  Obama inherited the financial crisis.  That’s why the economy sucks.  The Republicans hate Obama.  That’s why the ACA is FUBAR.  Obama didn’t start the war in Iraq.  So, it’s not his fault if the void we left when we pulled out of Iraq has destabilized the country.

(Sidenote: Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker was interviewed on Fresh Air yesterday.  In the last 4 minutes of the interview, Filkins lays out the culpability of the Obama administration with respect to the current crisis in Iraq.  It’s not pretty. Expect Filkins to suffer some scapegoating for truth telling about the golden child’s “accomplishments”.)

Hillary can do nothing right.  Everything she says is scrutinized in order to put the worst possible spin on it.  She’s not perfect, that’s for sure, and right now, unless I see her move to the left boldly to take on the exploitative profit miners, it will be hard for me to justify voting for her.  But, golly gee, nobody is as bad as the left seems to think Hillary is.  According to the left, she and her husband wrecked welfare and imposed an unconstitutional piece of legislation on gay people while single handedly destroying Glass-Steagall.  Then they wickedly danced around the fire while chanting incantations, laughing evilly at the suffering of others and killing the bees.  It’s an image of the Clintons that completely cuts out the crazy Whitewater scandal, the crazy Monica scandal, the hours of congressional hearings and special prosecutions over billing records, and the millions of dollars that they and their friends and everyone who ever worked for them were forced to spend on what turned out to be harassment suits.  This during the Newt Gingrich years.  Remember Newt??

But it doesn’t matter.  Hillary Clinton is facing flying monkeys on the left as well as the right.  And while we can’t do anything about the flying monkeys on the right, I just have to wonder if the flying monkeys on the left have thought this through.  The books I’ve read say that the flying monkeys are not always aware of what they are doing.  The narcissists controlling them make them feel included, like they’re one of the club.  And it’s fun to get that sip of narcissistic oxygen that comes with watching the scapegoat flailing and not succeeding.

There’s a danger to this though.  If Hillary truly is the last great hope of the left in 2016, and she sees that the narcissists and flying monkeys on the left are determined to see her fail, then her only choice to win the White House is to appeal to the disaffected voters of 2008 who abandoned the Democrats for the Tea Party.  That wouldn’t be me.  I’m still in exile.  I’m talking about the more socially conservative Democrats who felt snubbed by Obama and his supporters writing them off, calling them religious, gun toting, bitter knitters.  She’s got to get her votes from somewhere and if the crunchy lefties and snobby lefties are going to get prodded by the narcissists to go after her non-stop from now until 2016, then she’s going to have to appeal to the Reagan Democrats.  At this point, the left is all but conceding that she is the inevitable candidate (why they say this is anyone’s guess but it’s out there).  And if it is true that the left is finally, reluctantly, going to get behind Hillary, it’s going to be undermining its own candidate if it keeps telling the world how loathsome it thinks she is.

That’s something to think about.

On the other hand, Hillary has to come to terms with her scapegoat role.  Once you have become the scapegoat, there is virtually nothing you can do about changing it. Defensiveness doesn’t do much good. The scapegoating will continue until the narcissist dies or the flying monkeys get a clue as to how and why they are being used.  As long as the flying monkeys are getting off on what they’re doing, finding it successful, and the golden child remains protected, don’t expect anything to change.  The scapegoat has a choice.  Go along with it or divorce the whole family.  You can never appease the narcissist enough to be your own person.

35 Responses

  1. I’m beginning to think I should have studied social psychology so I know exactly what I’m talking about.

    • I thought it was grand. Interesting note is after all the DSM 5 has retained Narcissistic Personality Disorder despite all those like minded people lobbying to have it removed…trying to make ‘specified criteria’ a norm I suppose. lol

    • I love that you have read Phillip Zimbardo’s book, The Lucifer Effect which is a must read for people, especially people trying to understand politics and foreign policy. The Lucifer Effect would also help the intel folks in understanding ISIS / ISIL and their recruitment methods. Look at the barrel to understand the apples.

  2. Salon is going after Hillary, nearly every day.
    I guess the dream of a Warren/Sanders ticket dies hard.
    I live in NE Ohio, I told my sister I’d hunt down Dennis Kuchinich to see if he’s interested. Dennis the K, people!
    Of course, there’s Brian whatshisname from Montana with the bolo tie and is Bill Bradley still alive?

  3. At least one plutocrat understands reality:


    If more of them can wise up like he has, maybe they can avert the pitchforks.

    Of course, many of them think all they have to do is construct a mo’ better police state. However, the czarist aristocrats, and their equivalents in the latter days of the USSR, thought their police states would protect them from downfall.

    • He is clearly not a descendant or member of one of the dynastic power families of ancient wealth. They would just laugh at this, and at us, if they bothered to read it. They are counting on carefully fostered antibiotic resiistance, unaddressed global warming, etc.; to reduce the lower class majority closer to zero in numbers. If this man even knew what the dynastic overclasses are thinking and planning, he wouldn’t even believe it.

      • Carefully fostered antibiotic resistance?

        I enjoy donning un chapeau de Reynolds Wrap from time to time, but let’s not forget Hanlon’s Razor: Never assume malice if stupidity can provide an adequate explanation.

        • Good point. On the other hand, William S. Burroughs once said: ” Stupidity is best all-around cover a saboteur ever had.” ( Actually, what he said was ” Homosexuality is the best all-around cover an agent ever had” but I changed it a little to suit my purposes).

  4. For years I though we on the left were the smart ones…but we goose step and Pavlov dog almost as stupidly as those on the right.

    I boldly state after 15 years of unbroken Bush 2/Obama policies we are in a fix where the lesser evil is not as bad as a greater evil …I boldly say a mixed cup is better than than full one of poison. ..

    How has the purity thing work out for us ? Over and over I have seen the GOP hire left icons solely to take pot shots at their electable brethren..and we on the left fall for it time and time again . Ralph Nader and Al Sharpton among others . are waiting by the phone …praying Hill will declare and soon

    The 1% Salon / Huff left ( the ones in and of the Press) are not our friends . They do not need things to work as they have money . They can afford their purity They will be fine regardless… in fact they will be richer if Hill doesn’t get in.

    One can’t speak about this without looking at the class thing. The The 1% Salon / Huff left hate the Clintons because they are of the working/middle class . The 1% Salon / Huff left hate the working class more, much more , than the GOP.

    I did not want Hill to run because I’ve been though the 8 years of the endlessly ginned up scandals, ( whitewater and Monica being the most famous ) and then the out in the open criminality of 2008…but if Hillary can take it ( and frankly who else can? ) I will support her . I will hate alot of what she does…but it would be better than what others would do.

    The bigger question is will over lords admit they f-ed up and allow Hilary to mop up some what ? If they are still bent on world domination, she will not get the prize.

    • IMHO, there’s going to be very little cleaning up without a strong leader making statements that the plutocrats are not going to like but that will appeal to everyone else. And that’s going to be even tougher with Fox News spewing crap all the time and controlling the message.
      Her best chance was 2008. They knew it. That’s why she isn’t president. Why she would want to clean up this smoking ruin of an economy now is beyond me.

  5. I agree with the depiction of Hillary as Scapegoat and Obama as Golden Child but ONLY within the context of the Left. You seem to operate within a world where those are the two extremes.

    I live in a world where all of both Obama’s and Clinton’s disciples together could not organize a decent funeral cortège. My Flying Monkeys see no difference.

    The Narcissists on the right and their useful tools view your protagonists interchangeably.

    I am old.

    I was registering blacks to vote in Mississippi in the summer of 1964.

    I learned how to run from Daley’s cops in a group in a Grant Park in Chicago in 1968.

    And I rode home on the L & N’s “City of New Orleans” with bandages on my head.

    They don’t care.

    You are surplus. I am surplus. Everybody reading this is surplus.

    Concrete is more important. At least, it can be walked on.

    • I’m not surprised that you think that the masters of the universe can’t tell them apart. You’re new around here. We’ve been following these two for a long time. If you go back and read this blog from the beginning, you might understand our POV. I think the masters saw a very clear difference between them and threw their support behind the candidate they thought most likely to do their bidding. Where Obama is an enabler, hillary was rehab and they didn’t want rehab.
      As for what you did in the 60’s, I’m in awe. Thank you. But what have you done with respect to women? Or doesn’t their full enfranchisement as citizens count as much? Because when I listen to a lot of lefties, they’re just not as passionate about women’s problems. One thing you can say about hillary is that she’s never let governments around the world off the hook for the way women are treated.
      I was at a rally the day the ERA died and I’m younger than you and what happened in 2008 should have outraged people like you. The differences between them was enough for the people in charge to pursue a scorched earth policy against women that will set us back a generation. It was enough to tear apart the primary system and disenfranchise 18000000 voters. It was enough to change the rules of the convention. I was at the convention in Denver and spoke to delegates that were intimidated and harrassed. That’s how important the difference was. So, where have you been in the past 6 years?

      • I left and am still in exile. Decades of volunteering/working doing voter registration/party work didn’t protect me from personal attacks…attacking women was in, is still in (seeing all the attacks on Hillary today) and although my heart doesn’t pang (with hurt) anymore the reality of the world has set in. So, today I work (volunteer) for women’s rights and Human Rights around the world in the hope that the world begins to see women as human beings, human beings that deserve and have a right to Human Rights.

  6. I don’t know what is going to happen but the press and the right along with some on the left are trying to scare her away from running. Why do I think this? Because they are throwing an unlimited amount of mud at her and she has not announced that she IS running.

    And I have been to Kos and it’s the same freaking story over there. They should have just pulled up their comments from 2008 and done a cut and paste instead of wearing out their fingers typing the same thing.

    Anyone I told them YOU are the one who wanted Obama. How has that worked out for you? I have actually pretty much told them they should not be picking any more nominees for the party.

  7. After the unmitigated disaster that was Bush the Lesser the Democrats should have controlled Washington for the next sixteen years. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid put an end to that when they passed Romney-care.

    The Democrats might win in 2016 if the republicans can’t find a candidate who isn’t howling at the moon mad to run.

    I look for Labor to abandon the Democratic Party in droves when they see what Obama-care does to their health benefits. Any attempt by Organized Labor to get the rank and file to support Democrats after it goes into effect will end in a bunch of Open Shops.

  8. RD: You have a tremendous facility for writing and I’m sure not the first one to say it so. Have you considered writing your own books?
    A talent like yours could bring $$$.
    Take it from someone that likes to write but struggles with it…

    • I agree RD has a gift and a way to relay it (message) in an interesting manner. When a writer evokes a mood/emotion from the reader, the writer is clearly a ‘great’ communicator.

  9. I agree RD should be writing a book. She has intelligent things to say and I’ve no doubt there is a market for it. (And I say this as someone who has had a book published-and not self-published).

  10. quixote and Woman Voter, it’s nice to see you both.
    I miss Dr. Socks and John W. Smart, too, when he first started.

  11. Hail, hail! The gangs al(most) here! 🙂

    I find myself sharing your sentiments re: a HRC candidacy, RD. However, I’ll be damned if I support anyone who wasted time stepping on her face to get a leg up. Didn’t do it in 2008, won’t do this go round.

  12. (grinning) It is so great to see so many old friends here! I just wish …. I don’t know …. I wish the future looked brighter. At all.

  13. I agree – oh how boring of me!

    I think the HRC candidacy rumors are just a ploy anyway. I can’t imagine that she would have more support than she did in 2008 from the party leadership. In fact, considering the influence the sitting president has on the party, I’d bet she has less support than ever.

  14. I’ve been the scapegoat in one of those families you talk about. About six years back I finally did what you note is the only solution – divorced them all.

    It does give me strong radar for narcissists and a lifetime of learned skill at dealing with them. It helps to know from the start that there is no hope of getting them to be humane or fair. It’s also useful to know that their anger is inevitable and should just be ignored. Play hardball to protect oneself and one’s concerns and then don’t waste one second thinking about them the moment they are out of sight.

    Did you know that there is an acronym (there’s always a acronym) for dealing with narcissists? It is JADE. When in the presence of a narcissist, don’t Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain.

  15. Bosses really are narcissists: Research finds many managers recruited to top jobs suffer from personality disorder

    • I’ve worked for several excellent bosses who did not suffer from NPD. On the other hand, temporary work contracts tend to bring out the worst in some people.

  16. I once had great respect for Driftglass, before he was assimilated into the Oborg Collective. I got into a cyber-tiff with some of his amen corner here, if anyone is interested:


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