True Narcissism vs. Reality


‘Twas talking with my Mom this weekend about a friend of ours; we’ll call her “Betty.” Betty has issues with certain members of her family, who are making some very difficult decisions that go against the grain of Betty’s upbringing.

These family members are doing what’s best for them—what will keep them safe and sane and healthy. But it goes against Betty’s world view.

My Mom expressed frustration with Betty, as Betty just would not see their point of view. Had no sympathy for them.

Betty’s also a narcissist. Now, that word’s bandied about a lot without a solid understanding of its meaning: clinical narcissism means “denial of the true self.” A clinical narcissist is so worried about protecting herself that she creates a wall so thick that nothing can get through. She presents a false front to everyone. It’s so thick that even she can’t get through to see her true self.

So it is with Betty.

I explained to Mom that Betty doesn’t want to break down her wall. She can’t, unless she wants to break out of her narcissism. As long as that wall is up, she’s “safe,” but she literally will have no sympathy for anyone who doesn’t follow her own worldview. She can’t imagine it; can barely even contemplate it.

Worse, as long as that wall is up, Betty can’t acknowledge being wrong. Her worldview is the only thing that can exist, so by definition there are no other possibilities. She can’t acknowledge the existence of anything outside her own worldview.

And so, my Mom understood. I wonder if Betty ever will.

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