Who the Narcissist Is and Why It Is Important

The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch was first published in 1979. Many of his observations are as applicable now as then. The major thesis of this work is that the 20th century was dominated by a drift from 19th-century values. Individual identity, i.e. rugged individualism, was replaced by a societal identity which is populated by narcissists.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, founder of the transcendental movement, was a proponent of the power of the individual. To live, one must experience, was his credo. He thought that all people, times, and places are similar.

Since “… there is properly no history only biography … in what is true for you and your private heart is true of all men.” He was against the idea of human progress, popular in liberal circles: “…society never advances for everything that is given, something is taken.” In those times, individuals with self-reliance and the positive values of industry, creativity and personal responsibility were able to positively change the open frontier. These individuals had great confidence, boundless energy, and a vision to foster the country to undergo a massive technological revolution. Using Freudian terms, they had a strong ego. They had an appropriate superego (conscience) and had their id (drives of aggression and sexuality) under control. Despite some negative aspects, they were able to achieve many tangible results which positively affected Americans and other citizens of the world.

Since these times much has changed: world population has greatly increased, communication and transportation has made the world a much smaller place. People live longer and have higher expectations than previous generations. Classic institutions, i.e church and family, are much weaker. The theme of the 60s was to weaken these institutions and support immediate creature desires (sex, drugs, and rock and roll).

There has been much improvement in the world in general and the USA specifically. There is an overall increase in living standards and race and gender relationships have improved although more needs to be done. The self-reliant achiever of the 19th century has been replaced by the narcissists of the 20th and 21st centuries. This personality trait is well suited to thrive in expanding bureaucracies.

This change was noted by Allen Wheelis in The Quest for Identity in 1958. This idea was further developed by Lasch. He noted that in a progressive society a normal functioning superego was replaced by a harsh punitive superego: trigger warnings and Title IX mandates are examples of this trend. The narcissist appears superficially to have high self-regard. On closer examination, one sees she needs an audience to validate this self-image. The narcissist has excellent social skills to advance in any bureaucratic institution by knowing how to manipulate people and rules. They rarely achieved anything tangible but know how to game the system. Narcissists often use the psychological defense mechanism of projection: ascribing their deficits and fears to others.

Looking at the 2016 election, it becomes apparent that apart from having two very different individuals competing, there are also two archetypes. Donald Trump represents the American Adam of Emerson. He has a secure ego, he is defined by his actions, not his thoughts or intentions. He has a superego which is appropriate and an id under control. His biography supports this assertion. He dreams big and does things. Most of the time positive results happen. He sets a high bar for his behavior, avoiding drugs and alcohol. Providing for his children is a top priority. I really think that he does want to improve the conditions of all Americans regardless of race, class, and gender. I disagree with progressives who state that this archetype is against the arc of history. I concur with Emerson that history never changes because of human nature, but echoes because of technological changes.

On the other hand, we have Hillary Clinton who represents the progressive narcissistic vision. Since she describes to control, she does not see the individual but groups that can be controlled. In fact, some people are to be shunned and debased. She is a hollow person without substance, and being a post-modernist, she believes in no constants or underlying truth. History is irrelevant; the results of policies don’t matter, only the laudatory intentions. Being a narcissist, she needs the adulation of others. All in her sphere play a part in her grand plan. She has done well in bureaucratic structures which favor personal relationships over actual achievements. She equates mental visions with actual events: the Russian reset, the Benghazi video and of course the recent pneumonia. She has an immature ego threatened by competition and criticism. She uses projection seeing her deficiencies in her perceived enemies. The basket stops here.

 

The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch was first published in 1979. Many of his observations are as applicable now as then. The major thesis of this work is that the 20th century was dominated by a drift from 19th-century values. Individual identity, i.e. rugged individualism, was replaced by a societal identity which is populated by narcissists.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, founder of the transcendental movement, was a proponent of the power of the individual. To live, one must experience, was his credo. He thought that all people, times, and places are similar.

Since “… there is properly no history only biography … in what is true for you and your private heart is true of all men.” He was against the idea of human progress, popular in liberal circles: “…society never advances for everything that is given, something is taken.” In those times, individuals with self-reliance and the positive values of industry, creativity and personal responsibility were able to positively change the open frontier. These individuals had great confidence, boundless energy, and a vision to foster the country to undergo a massive technological revolution. Using Freudian terms, they had a strong ego. They had an appropriate superego (conscience) and had their id (drives of aggression and sexuality) under control. Despite some negative aspects, they were able to achieve many tangible results which positively affected Americans and other citizens of the world.

Since these times much has changed: world population has greatly increased, communication and transportation has made the world a much smaller place. People live longer and have higher expectations than previous generations. Classic institutions, i.e church and family, are much weaker. The theme of the 60s was to weaken these institutions and support immediate creature desires (sex, drugs, and rock and roll).

There has been much improvement in the world in general and the USA specifically. There is an overall increase in living standards and race and gender relationships have improved although more needs to be done. The self-reliant achiever of the 19th century has been replaced by the narcissists of the 20th and 21st centuries. This personality trait is well suited to thrive in expanding bureaucracies.

This change was noted by Allen Wheelis in The Quest for Identity in 1958. This idea was further developed by Lasch. He noted that in a progressive society a normal functioning superego was replaced by a harsh punitive superego: trigger warnings and Title IX mandates are examples of this trend. The narcissist appears superficially to have high self-regard. On closer examination, one sees she needs an audience to validate this self-image. The narcissist has excellent social skills to advance in any bureaucratic institution by knowing how to manipulate people and rules. They rarely achieved anything tangible but know how to game the system. Narcissists often use the psychological defense mechanism of projection: ascribing their deficits and fears to others.

Looking at the 2016 election, it becomes apparent that apart from having two very different individuals competing, there are also two archetypes. Donald Trump represents the American Adam of Emerson. He has a secure ego, he is defined by his actions, not his thoughts or intentions. He has a superego which is appropriate and an id under control. His biography supports this assertion. He dreams big and does things. Most of the time positive results happen. He sets a high bar for his behavior, avoiding drugs and alcohol. Providing for his children is a top priority. I really think that he does want to improve the conditions of all Americans regardless of race, class, and gender. I disagree with progressives who state that this archetype is against the arc of history. I concur with Emerson that history never changes because of human nature, but echoes because of technological changes.

On the other hand, we have Hillary Clinton who represents the progressive narcissistic vision. Since she describes to control, she does not see the individual but groups that can be controlled. In fact, some people are to be shunned and debased. She is a hollow person without substance, and being a post-modernist, she believes in no constants or underlying truth. History is irrelevant; the results of policies don’t matter, only the laudatory intentions. Being a narcissist, she needs the adulation of others. All in her sphere play a part in her grand plan. She has done well in bureaucratic structures which favor personal relationships over actual achievements. She equates mental visions with actual events: the Russian reset, the Benghazi video and of course the recent pneumonia. She has an immature ego threatened by competition and criticism. She uses projection seeing her deficiencies in her perceived enemies. The basket stops here.