Narcissists can be huge performers in their careers because their inflated sense of self-importance drives them onward and upward. The sense of determination to prove to the world they are indeed important is ever present. In their wake is an interpersonal explosion stemming from the exploitation of others. The wave extends higher based on the belief that they are “special” and unique. Naturally then “they” can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people. Sound familiar?
The world is their audience, and everyone they meet—and everything that happens—is centered on them. If Target had a spokesperson – it would be him.
They are drawn to careers that allow them to receive the attention and power they crave, and to exert influence over others, reinforcing their perceived self-importance. Unfortunately, the same holds true for the psychopath. When in a position of authority, now determined more than ever, “he” becomes a dictator, obsessed with control and power, incensed when someone fails to carry out his instructions to the letter.
Determination, as a variation of a person’s will to live, is what drove Walter White to death — in a literal sense. Can we learn from what we observed? Does life beyond the digital bandland exist?
Persuasion is a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people to change their attitudes or behaviors regarding an issue – or a carefully crafted argument whose internal previews coerce belief. Persuasion is the next best thing when fulminated mercury can’t get the job done. For Walter White, his primary tools of persuasion were blackmail, lying and the astute ability to call someone’s bluff by utilizing game theory to configure, and thus understand, their options. He’s brilliant when he utters a momentous line: “If you could kill me, you would have already.”
The blissfully ignorant are simply unaware of the “bad sides” of the narcissist. They look the other way, or pretend that the narcissist’s behavior is normative, or turn a blind eye to his egregious misbehavior. They are classic deniers of reality. In a feat of cognitive dissonance, they deny any connection between the acts of the narcissist and their consequences. Are there consequences? Certainly. Is it profound? Yes, in many ways. Regrettably, the narcissist rarely pays the price for his offenses. His victims pick up the tab.
The narcissist may study a given subject diligently and in great depth in order to impress people later with this newly acquired erudition. But, having served its purpose, the narcissist lets the knowledge thus acquired evaporate. The narcissist maintains a sort of a “short-term” cell or warehouse where he stores whatever may come handy in the pursuit of narcissistic supply, i.e., attention. But he is almost never really interested in what he does, studies, and experiences. Please re-read that last sentence and repeat after me – Wilco tango foxtrot! What does this suggest?
Walter White was able to leverage his power because he kept his information proprietary. It’s the reason he killed Gale Boetticher, and the very reason he hung Jesse out to dry when he was sent down to Mexico to cook for the cartel.
“What? You didn’t read your email?!”
The normal person is likely to welcome a moderate amount of attention – verbal and non-verbal – in the form of affirmation, approval, or admiration. Too much attention, though, is perceived as onerous and is avoided. Destructive and negative criticism is avoided altogether.
The narcissist, in contrast, is the mental equivalent of an alcoholic. He is insatiable. He directs his whole behavior, in fact his life, to obtain these pleasurable titbits of attention. He embeds them in a coherent, completely biased, picture of himself. He uses them to regulate his labile sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
To elicit constant interest, he projects to others a confabulated, fictitious version of himself, known as the false self. The false self is everything the narcissist is not: omniscient, omnipotent, charming, intelligent, rich, or well-connected. Does this require discipline? You betcha. A blue-million pounds of discipline.
Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups. The definition of group could be one, 110 or eight. Again, the construct is complex. However, the overt and distasteful trait most visible is an exaggerated sense of self-worth. Possessing ample talents and abilities, the Achilles heel is a lack empathy for others.
Power and narcissism is a melding of overconfidence guided by a self-centered GPS. “Have you forgotten, no one else can do it!”
And while narcissists are more likely to become leaders, results of a Harvard medical study suggests that, once in power, narcissists don’t perform any better than others in that leadership role. Rather than leading, the narcissist becomes a boss whose envy for others is subtle. Underpinnings associated with envy rap hard at the door of those who have what they don’t, who are skilled at what they are not, who can feel what they don’t, and who are happy just being themselves.
Does change ever occur? No, not really. They love the image of themselves.
The common thread is an over-inflated sense of self-worth, and a belief that he or she is better than almost anyone.
Did Walter White see that reflection in the mirror – or the blood dripping from his chin? Hidden behind dark glasses and big-screen fantasies, he became whomever he needed to be in order to achieve his objective.
Seen, felt and heard were the rant towards others – treating them terribly or rudely. Interaction became incredibly demanding and lacked empathy.
Giving up control truly means control. It, however, is foreign to the narcissist.
Millions (hundreds of millions) of people connect wealth with the belief that it provides security and protection. Factually stated, wealth and the pursuit of money is for many people, proof of security. And for many more millions of people, wealth buys happiness (or at least it opens up a world of potential happiness).
The sphere of control as it extends from a monetary front creates a multi-faceted and complex construct. It bolsters the sense of entitlement. Meaning, as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview.
The outcropping most associated with this construct is an arrogantly superior and disdainful disposition. One that is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, and brilliance. Underscoring any one word only means that all words are underscored.
Walter White would be proud.
The meek shall inherit the earth but the wise man knows he does not get to decide how long he lives. Certainly we can control when we pass, but no one can control how long we walk this planet. The right to life is a temporary hall pass and we all return to dust in the wind. So why do we operate as though we can control life itself or the people around us? Is control a method by which we gain comfort over the stresses of life? Does it produce a smooth path on which we can tread?
Psychologists who study human behavior will often make the statement that domination is an illusion and fleeting at best. Anthropologists believe, generally speaking, that domination is the faulty backbone of a self-righteousness man (or woman). In essence, the type of person who displays moral superiority intertwined with narcissistic behaviors. It’s complicated, detached, and is derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Unlike clothing, this isn’t something you outgrow. It’s connected like an appendage. For anyone with an objective lens, it’s nothing more than a Walter White fantasy being played out down the hallway in some planetary sphere we call the corner.