The Dire Dangers of Narcissism
Though I’m professionally distant from today’s media luminaries, I have a particular personal interest in the current narcissistic spectacle du jour: I went to college and was friends with Harvey Weinstein nearly a half a century ago.
With an admixture of feelings, I watch the scandal unfold. I’m horrified and angry at what Weinstein is charged with perpetrating. I’m confused and saddened by my former friend’s behavior. Yet, I’m not surprised, given what I remember about Harvey when we were students. That’s not to say I could have predicted this. I don’t identify with interviewees solicited by journalists to tell what they knew of ignominious scoundrels before they committed their heinous acts. Harvey Weinstein—from first impression of him being grandiose, sycophantic, and magnanimously generous to the progression of his unstable and rampant ambition—was intense, needy, insecure, ingratiating, and over-the-top in his endeavors.
I’m not invested in justifying or scourging Harvey. He’ll get whatever the consequences of his actions bring—spiritually and legally. I feel sorry for him, but ever more sorry for, and indignant about, the victims he is accused of abusing, exploiting, bullying, and oppressing. Such injustice must be vindicated—but that is not up to me. As a psychologist, my goal is to unravel and shed light upon the inner forces that develop into disastrous behavior. Since I consorted with Harvey and knew him well decades ago, I want to lay bare the seminal roots of an accused tyrant before he became one.
As a psychologist, I have something to contribute by explaining the wily dangers of narcissism, thus allowing potential victims to be informed and better protected. As an American citizen, I am alarmed and wary about the course and future of our country, our people and our principles. As a father, husband, and person with strengths and weaknesses who is desirous of healthy relationships, I, too, am vulnerable. Narcissism is an insidious monster, born of a needy and unstable ego that lurks for years, nursing its perceived wounds, until it explodes in aggressive and blind perpetrations. A healthy self-image must be nurtured. It can be achieved by hard work that includes the basis for self-respect and the practice of respect for others. Though the development of narcissism is neither predictable nor clearly delineated, certain factors may contribute to a self-aggrandizing ego and overbearing sense of entitlement:
- a “silver-spoon” upbringing, where material things and excessively indulgent opportunities became integral elements in the family culture;
- exposure to a series of traumas and humiliations;
- use of embarrassment to modify childhood misbehavior;
- employing self-flagellation to cope with insecurity; or simply
- relying on an escapist fantasy and the transformative illusion of becoming a legend and hero in one’s mirror.
Though we may recoil from the exaggerated hubris of the narcissist, we should also be respectful and thankful for not traveling along such an isolating and destructive path. As my mother often said: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” To live a life of worthiness and honor, one must embrace gratitude and humility.
What Happened to You, Harvey Weinstein?
Do you remember me, Harvey? I know you’ve got a lot on your mind these days; but I’ll bet that if you heard my name, you’d say, “Mark… how the hell are you doing?” We go back a long way, Harvey, to some wild days at the University of Buffalo.
Remember the crowd? Janis Siegel (affectionately called Pumpkin), who went on to acclaim as a singer with Manhattan Transfer. And the creative and iconic Jay Beckenstein, jazz saxophonist with Spyrogyra.
Remember those all-nighters, the 4:00 AM greasy burgers at Your Host Restaurant? The anguished, drugged-out rants and discussions about the universe, who we were, and where we were going?
We grew up and went out in the world to different places. You were amazing, Harvey: intense, sycophantic, driven, disturbed, and needy. I identified with you—Jewish kids from New York, arrived in a blue collar city, ready to take over and show how much we knew and how things should be done.
You floundered, and then soared. It wasn’t long before you traded academics for an entrepreneurial path, on your way to becoming a juggernaut. You founded Harvey & Corky Productions, bringing big-name musical talent to downtown Buffalo. You soon rubbed shoulders with the top names and icons of our generation. It must have been intoxicating, far beyond the drugs that most used to reach for peace and imagined self-importance.
Throughout the years, I watched your movies and cheered you on. There goes Harvey Weinstein—I knew him in college; we were friends. I envied your success. From my intimate knowledge of your personality, I suspected that you were not happy or fulfilled. How could you be, never filling the immense void within you with something other than riches and accolades? Not to diminish your sweeping achievements. But you were so needy and insecure. How could anything the world had to offer be enough?
I wrote to you fifteen years ago, hoping to reconnect. But I never got a response.
Apparently, you tried to fill your deep inner void with surreptitious trysts, using your money and influence to sway and dominate young women—impressionable and aspiring beauties you used for your lustful and egotistical purposes. You used your money, power, and influence to lord it over people, to take advantage of them, and to coerce their silence. The chickens have come home to roost; the truth will not be hidden; you are exposed and in trouble.
It’s not for me to judge you Harvey. I just want to tell you something about women and men and power and accountability.
Females are not immune from deceit, hypocrisy, and the fleshly litany of sins. But females are to be protected and respected. They are “weaker” in some sense, but immensely more powerful than men in many respects. Our society inherently imposes on women mixed messages, psychological traumas, economic discrimination, and often the raw end of many deals. Our culture exalts and worships physical appeal, but quickly disregards and discards worthwhile human beings when their outward beauty fades. Ironically, we exalt and worship physical beauty, and yet we exploit it. The fleeting blooms of pulchritude and stardom leave women vulnerable and with undeserved dismissal or ostracism. Too many men strut their machismo, stricken with envy (and with the fantasy) that a woman can have sex any time she wants (whereas many men have to feel they must lure or seduce). Unfortunately, some men act out of this context to take advantage and force or exploit women. When the playing field becomes overly imbalanced, many women either withdraw into resentful passive aggressiveness—avoiding or manipulating intimacy—or act out with hostile projection—rejecting men or typecasting them as insensitive and only interested in exploitative sex. Though there’s plenty of blame to spread around, men bear the burden—historically, we have been at fault by dominating women and isolating them from full and equal participation in society.
With your overarching success, Harvey, you now have trouble (tsouris, in Yiddish) on a grand scale. My heart aches for you, and I pray for you.
I have some advice for you, Harvey, my dear old friend: it’s time for you to make amends, to acknowledge your wrongdoing, to seek forgiveness, and to make restitution—no holds barred. I know you must now resort to posturing for strategic legal reasons, but you are going to sacrifice a lot of money to pay for your mistakes. You can no longer “buy” people (and certainly not their silence). You will feel alone, and will be alone. You will have to give up the pretenses you have long abused to fill the abyss and mollify the gargantuan ego that hides the empty Harvey Weinstein.
Yet, there is someone valuable, tender, sensitive, worthwhile inside the blustering and offensive Harvey. This is an opportunity to find out who you really are, to change the offensiveness, and to develop into an honorable person.
God has used you, Harvey, and he is not done yet. Through these scandals, he is using you writ large to teach others; and he is bringing you to your knees in the hope that you will stay there and begin to acknowledge and worship him.
Truer riches await you, my friend, if you will only repent and ask for divine forgiveness and guidance. You must also seek forgiveness from the people you hurt, so many of them. It’s time to be open, sincere, and humble. You must unequivocally repent.
Years ago, you founded a big company—Miramax—named after your parents, Max and Miriam Weinstein. What would they think of their son now? I never knew Max or Miriam, but I am sure they always loved you. Why, Harvey, has it been so difficult for you to feel love?
The Harvey Weinstein I knew nearly half a century ago could never relax. He always had to prove something, to get more and show more. You were an intense and difficult person. But you were likable, Harvey, and you didn’t have to try so hard.
The term narcissism is taken from Greek mythology. Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. He was drawn to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it (himself), not realizing it was merely an image.
Today, narcissism is a psychiatric diagnosis and considered a mental disorder. It is also often used disparagingly in common parlance and description. Narcissism involves extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, and has come to characterize a personality type. Narcissists think extremely highly of themselves and are often driven to seek validation of their worthiness and inflated self-opinion by soliciting and even demanding the approval of others. They delude themselves that their boorish machinations and manipulations of others testify to their own self-worth. Though they may be capable of compassion and empathy, narcissists are so preoccupied with their own selfish interests and with validating themselves that they typically ignore or do not consider or recognize others’ needs, even the people closest to them.
Narcissists’ classic “me-first” posture often leads them to resort to aggressive acts that allow them to dominate or “win,” regardless of the costs. They love and need to be the center of attention, often usurping the limelight, dominating conversations, and controlling situations and people to serve their own ends.
It is when they are challenged or confronted with reality that the true pathological character of narcissists flagrantly emerges. Narcissists’ fragile self-image and ego structure do not allow them to acknowledge the egregious nature of their self-importance. Thus, is it is rare for them to apologize or admit wrongdoing. Remorse and repentance for their offensive actions almost never occurs (think Trump).
Thus, narcissists often have a problem with reality-testing; that is, they can only perceive events and circumstances from the same perspective as others when such “reality” supports and buttresses themselves in a positive and flattering light. Unfortunately, this infrequently happens. Instead narcissists twist and distort reality to suit their own views, inevitably causing confusion, alienation, and damage to relationships and the integrity and well-being of others. They constantly use people in devious ways, and invariably deny their motives and the unpleasant effects upon others. Narcissists have confounding and appalling obsession to blame others for what they themselves have done. A psychological term for this is projection. This is denial at its craftiest, and it is infuriating (again, think Trump).
When dealing with and referring to people who thought too highly of themselves, a dear friend of mine use to quip. “I’d like to buy you for what you’re really worth, and sell you for what you think you’re worth.”
We can shake our heads in disbelief or disgust at narcissism, and we can mock this condition with humor. However, don’t underestimate the dire danger of narcissism as the disorder affects all those who come into contact with the narcissist. Narcissists cannot have good relationships because they view others as opportunities to validate and gratify themselves. In psychoanalytic terms, they have poorly developed object relations. In plain language, this means that they cannot separate and distinguish between themselves and the legitimate perceptions, opinions, values, desires, and needs of others. What others experience (including hurt or neglect perpetrated by the narcissist) is blocked by the arrogant, center-stage prominence of the narcissist’s own needs.
Dealing With Narcissists
Because narcissists live in a bubble of self-absorption and denial, it’s very hard to break through their manipulations and defenses. Normal people (allowing for differences among individuals) have varying abilities to admit mistakes, acknowledge wrongdoing, apologize with sincerity, recognize their flaws and trespasses along with the negative impact upon others, and modify their behaviors to minimize the negative effects of selfishness. Not so with narcissists, as this is the core of their personality disorder.
It may be helpful to review the following guidelines in dealing with people you suspect of narcissism:
Expect self-centeredness and reality distortion
Because narcissists’ self-absorbed attitudes and responses are often provocative, it’s tempting to react with consternation, indignation, umbrage, and the like. However, if you keep your dismay and outrage to yourself, you’ll be in a better position to question the behaviors with a strategy of setting limits. Instead of expressing your emotional reactions to narcissistic self-centeredness, practice the strategies listed below.
Refrain from demonstrative emotional reactions
Tie responses to facts, evidence, and questions
When faced with narcissists’ bold claims, quietly question the bases for such statements. Or, just ignore them. For example, someone may proudly announce, “These people don’t know how to drive. I happen to be one of the best drivers on the road.” You could say, “ I guess so. But there is the issue of your three moving violations and numerous parking tickets.” Or, you could just let it go, and smirk to yourself.
Sometimes, simply questioning the basis for outrageous statements is enough to slow down the narcissist’s bluster. Remember Trump’s tirades about how he “knows more about Isis than any general in the military,” and his defiant complaint that he is “the victim of the greatest witch hunt in history”? There is no shutting down such an ego. However, one might ask, “Where did you acquire your military knowledge, and why were you not consulted and solicited before you became president?”
“Please give us some details about the other witch hunts against which you compare your own alleged persecution.”
And don’t expect an intelligent and coherent response to your questions!
Preface accountability and confrontations with acknowledgment and legitimate praise
Narcissists perceive questions, challenges, and alternate opinions—even facts—as threats to and defamation of their integrity. Therefore, it’s helpful to preface and intersperse your messages of accountability with reasonable and relevant praise toward the person whom you’re trying to get to really listen to you. Even appealing to their putative sense of discernment and justice may get you farther along on your attempts to bring reality into the conversation.
When I deal with pie-in-the sky people who live inside dreams inflated by their own sense of self-worth and entitlement, I find it prudent to ask, “I understand that, given your abilities and track record (?!), you expect this to work out as you’ve favorably planned…, but because you are smart, have you formulated an alternative scenario and plan?”
Set boundaries and repeat if-then consequences as they pertain to the narcissist’s behaviors
Inevitably, narcissists repeatedly step on the toes of others. Their transgressions may be verbal and/or they may take vindictive actions (hello again, Mr. Trump). Their self-aggrandizement can make it hard to keep a straight face; or, their attitude of entitlement may carry implicit threats for noncompliance or resistance. (Harvey Weinstein got away with his egregious behavior in large part due to his political and economic influence, much of which he wielded against much less powerful women. When he ultimately confronted a woman who was formidable and courageous, she pulled the plug, and the dirty slimy water that had accumulated in the bathtub over the decades slurped down the drain. Harvey was left sitting naked and shivering in his own filth.)
Granted, it’s not for individuals to take on the President of the United States. But the collective violations and outrage are propelling Trump to his comeuppance. Kudos to the brave people who have spoken the truth and challenged Trump, even at risk to their own reputations and careers! That takes integrity, confidence, and courage!
And Harvey? My old friend, your bullying and predation have ironically transformed the zeitgeist. Your secret life of lust, aggression, and intimidation now exposed has caused trauma and harm—shame on you! However, the notoriety has caused a groundswell of indignation, objection, and cries for justice. You have become the agent of change, long overdue.
The message is clear: If you abuse or intimidate women, it will come to light and you will pay.
Solicit commitments, promises, and contracts in writing
Remember that, as part of their sense of entitlement, narcissists do not hesitate to change the rules—including their agreements, commitments, promises, and respect for others’ needs—when it suits their purposes. Therefore, it’s wise to make a habit of solidifying commitments and promises in writing, with dates and signatures if possible. Though the self-entitled may scoff and sneer at such requests, pretend you are prone to mistaking the details, since your memory might not be as good as theirs (!) and remind them of the pithy saying, Black and white on paper is a lot clearer than the gray matter of the brain.
In other words, play dumb, like a fox. The narcissist may pity you and indulge you.
At the very least, keep your own meticulous records with details of words, actions, and dates. E-mails and texts establish a continual, accessible, and practical audit trail, useful for holding the narcissist accountable, especially when deception and conflict arise.
Be prepared for breaches of trust, intimacy, and fidelity
Precautions and attentiveness notwithstanding, you cannot change the basic flawed character of the narcissist. That’s not to say that people don’t change. Life experience, traumas, pain, and consequences are all great teachers. They even teach to the seemingly robust and impregnable bravado of narcissists (and, at best, it takes awhile). In his own way and with his own timing, God chips away at the lives and consciences of the foolish and hurtful. At his own discretion, he causes miracles to happen.
But the very nature of narcissism attacks trust, empathy, and consideration. Don’t be surprised when the narcissist (repeatedly) violates boundaries, flaunts rules, and sabotages trust, intimacy, and even your own faith. Remain loving, but be cautious and be prepared. Your sensitivity and good intentions are no match for the power of narcissism. Engaging in an argument or a major adversarial battle with a narcissist can be akin to stepping into the ring with a mixed martial arts fighter. No holds are bared. Be prepared for the unexpected. Be on guard. Protect yourself at all times. Expect hyperbole, manipulated facts, concocted falsehoods, inconsistencies, and outrageous lies. It’s all part of the package.
Narcissism’s Dire Consequences
Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein are but two notorious narcissistic icons—caricatures writ large in a field of opportunism. Their transgressions leave us aghast, wondering how such egregious behavior could have escalated and continued.
Surely, someone like Weinstein, if indicted and convicted of a crime or crimes in a court of law, must be thwarted and punished. Trump is a much more complex matter involving political and constitutional issues that are still in the process of unfolding. However, the important take-home message is that there are many like them—young, old, male, female, prominent, less significant—who foist their attitudes and perpetrations upon the unsuspecting and vulnerable, the psychologically and experientially less sophisticated, and those with fewer defenses and resources.
Narcissists may be overtly offensive, or they may be furtive and wily—sheep in wolves’ clothing. In a culture that has inveterately promoted self-centeredness and a “me-first” value system, narcissists may seem to embody the cultural virtues, to blend in and prevail over the competition. But you will recognize them by their intransigence and lack of compassion for the basic welfare and psychological well-being of others. As legends in their own mirrors (or pools, as with the Greek Narcissus), they deem themselves the only ones who matter.
As a society, we should focus attention on identifying, dissuading, and modifying the development of narcissistic character. Respect for women—pervasive societal, legal, accommodating respect—is surely a good place to start. We are beginning to painfully learn those lessons.
But the battle against misogyny is not enough. Parents must teach their children that the world does not “owe” them. The government should provide more than minimal education and health care—service, schooling, and training that focuses on character development and resources for the ravages of character failure, including disorders of emotional bonding, anxiety, depression, trauma, and the depredations of addiction.
We need to return to God, individually and collectively. Each of us determines our own personal relationship with or abandonment of our Creator. Religion should not be forced. But spiritual living should be foundational and institutionally encouraged. The development of the soul and its conscience and compassion is incompatible with the “me-first” ethos that culturally reinforces narcissism.
When tragedy strikes, we become voracious Monday morning quarterbacks. We scrutinize the history of assassins and predators, looking for clues that should have exposed them earlier. However, social autopsies on misfits will not relieve us of the larger problem, nor will those efforts alone avert the perverse development of unhealthy, megalomaniac egos.
We must become a society, through and through, that values humility and teaches people, rank and file, to put others first. Against such a social norm, the Trumps and Weinsteins will identify themselves early as faulty people who need discipline, correction, and guidance to develop true and healthy self-love.
Narcissism may never be eliminated, for we are a prideful and sinful species. With regard to selfish insensitivity, some are given to robust excess, even to the point of outright cruelty. Recoil as we might from Trump and Weinstein, we should learn that we need to expose them earlier in order to prevent the devastating potential of narcissism from exerting its will.
Farewell to the Harvey I Knew
We can’t live in the past. The Harvey Weinstein I knew nearly a half century ago has gone his own way, as have I.
In college, you looked up to me, Harvey. In your desperate neediness, you couldn’t see through my pretense, my needing to appear hip and avant-garde. If I’d had your talents, Harvey, perhaps I would have gone much farther astray than I did. Money and fame eluded me, but I guess I was luckier than you. And life did not let me get away with what, in my insouciant arrogance and ambition, I secretly wanted to.
If we could have coffee, I’d share with you some of the ordeals that happened in my life, what I’ve learned and about the people who taught me. Despite many setbacks and traumas, I’ve been fortunate. I have loved and been loved. Women have been great teachers to me, some intimate, some maternal, and many have been platonic, wonderful influences. I have learned to respect women and to not take advantage of them. Except for my wife, I regard them as sisters, mothers, and daughters. I treat them with biblically directed protection, respect, and deference. I joke (respectfully) about the differences between men and women. I note with professional acumen the stereotypes that frequently characterize the brains and demeanors of the two sexes. I’ve written a book about this, too, aimed at improving harmony and satisfaction in marriage relationships.
With maturity, I have more confidence and less need to prove myself or be the center of attention. I’m more able to appreciate the difficulties women have in a male-dominated world. I’m grounded enough to speak up and to model for males how to respect, value, protect, and share equally with females.
With God’s help and the stringent sanctions of many people who knocked me off my self-constructed pedestal and put me in a proper place, I’ve tamed most of my narcissistic tendencies.
The Harvey Weinstein I knew has grown and devolved. Farewell naïve and callow college buddy. I still recognize you, Harvey; beneath the atrocities, there is a boy, now a man, desperate for satisfying love. I hope this is God’s way of teaching you how to find it.
— Mark Steinberg, Ph.D.
In the 17th century, they also suspected that the rules of grammar stood between them and a society of equals.
Pronouns are the most political parts of speech. In English, defaulting to the feminine “she/her” when referring to a person of unspecified gender, instead of the masculine “he/him,” has long been a way of thumbing one’s nose at the patriarchy. (“When a politician votes, she must consider the public mood.”)
More recently, trans, nonbinary and genderqueer activists have promoted the use of gender-inclusive pronouns such as the singular “they/their” and “ze/zir” (instead of “he/him” or “she/her”). The logic here is no less political: If individuals — not grammarians or society at large — have the right to determine their own gender, shouldn’t they get to choose their own pronouns, too?
As with everything political, the use of gender-inclusive pronouns has been subject to controversy. One side argues that not to respect an individual’s choice of pronoun can threaten a vulnerable person’s basic equality. The other side dismisses this position as an excess of sensitivity, even a demand for Orwellian “newspeak.”
Both sides have dug in. To move the conversation forward, I suggest we look backward for an illuminating, if unexpected, perspective on the politics of pronouns. Consider the 17th-century Quakers, who also suspected that the rules of grammar stood between them and a society of equals.
Today the Quakers are remembered mainly for their pacifism and support for abolition. Yet neither of these commitments defined the Quaker movement as it emerged in the 1650s from the chaos of the English Civil War. What set the Quakers apart from other evangelical sects was their rejection of conventional modes of address — above all, their peculiar use of pronouns.
In early modern England, the rules of civility dictated that an individual of higher authority or social rank was entitled to refer to himself — and to be referred to by others — with plural, not singular, pronouns. (A trace of this practice survives today in the “royal ‘we.’”) The ubiquitous “you” that English speakers now use as the second-person singular pronoun was back then the plural, while “thee” and “thou” were the second-person singulars.
When Quakerism emerged, proper behavior still required this status-based differentiation. As one early Quaker explained, if a man of lower status came to speak to a wealthy man, “he must you the rich man, but the rich man will thou him.”
Quakers refused to follow this practice. They also refused to doff their hats to those of higher social standing. The Quakers’ founder, George Fox, explained that when God sent him forth, “he forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low; and I was required to thee and thou all men and women, without any respect to rich or poor, great or small.”
The Quakers thus declared themselves to be, like God, “no respecter of persons.” So they thee-ed and thou-ed their fellow human beings without distinction as a form of egalitarian social protest. And like today’s proponents of gender-inclusive pronouns, they faced ridicule and persecution as a result.
But there is also an important difference between the Quakers and today’s pronoun protesters. While modern activists argue that equality demands displays of equal respect toward others, the Quakers demonstrated conscientious disrespect toward everyone. Theirs was an equality of extreme humility and universally low status. Even the famously tolerant founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, couldn’t stand the Quakers and complained of the “familiarity, anger, scorn and contempt” inherent in their use of “thee” and “thou.”
Indeed, the trend in pronouns at that time was toward a leveling up, not a leveling down. By the middle of the 17th century, in response to increasing geographic and social mobility, the plural “you” had begun to crowd out the singular “thee” as the standard second-person pronoun, even for those of a lower social station. This meant that everyone would soon become, effectively, entitled — at least to the honorific second-person plural.
One might expect principled egalitarians like the Quakers to celebrate a linguistic process whereby all social ranks experienced an increase in dignity. But Fox and his followers looked on the universal “you” with horror, as a sign of the sin of pride. Long before he founded Pennsylvania, the Quaker William Penn would argue that when applied to individuals, the plural “you” was a form of idolatry. Other Quakers produced pamphlets citing examples from more than 30 dead and living languages to argue that their use of “thee” and “thou” was grammatically — as well as theologically and politically — correct.
The Quaker use of “thee” and “thou” continued as a protest against the sinfulness of English grammar for more than 200 years. (In 1851, in “Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville could still marvel at “the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker idiom.”) But eventually, in the 20th century, even the Quakers had to admit that their grammatical ship had sailed.
Modern practitioners of pronoun politics can learn a thing or two from the early Quakers. Like today’s egalitarians, the Quakers understood that what we say, as well as how we say it, can play a crucial part in creating a more just and equal society. They, too, were sensitive to the humble pronoun’s ability to reinforce hierarchies by encoding invidious distinctions into language itself.
Yet unlike the early Quakers, these modern egalitarians want to embrace, rather than resist, pronouns’ honorific aspect, and thus to see trans-, nonbinary and genderqueer people as equally entitled to the “title” of their choosing.
To their critics, however, allowing some people to designate their own pronouns and expecting everyone else to oblige feels like a demand for distinction. Yes, some of these critics may be motivated by “transphobic” bigotry. But others genuinely see such demands as special treatment and a violation of equality. They themselves experience “he” and “she” as unchosen designations. Shouldn’t everyone, they ask, be equally subject to the laws of grammatical gender?
According to the Quakers, both sides are right: Language reflects, as well as transforms, social realities. But the dual demands of equality and respect aren’t always in perfect harmony. Sometimes they are even in conflict. Respect can require treating people unequally, and equality can mean treating everyone with disrespect.
At present, the battle over the third-person singular subject in English seems to be resolving itself in the direction of the singular “they” — at least when referring to a person of unspecified gender. (“When a politician votes, they must consider the public mood.”) Pedants naturally complain. They argue that applying a plural pronoun to a singular subject is simply bad English. But as linguists note, spoken English has been tending that way for many years, long before the issue became politicized.
If the rules of grammar are indeed an obstacle to social justice, then the singular “they” represents a path of least resistance for activists and opponents alike. It may not be the victory that activists want. Still, it goes with the flow of the increasing indifference with which modern English distinguishes subjects on the basis of their social position. More fittingly, if applied to everyone, “they” would complete the leveling-up progress of equal dignity that “you” started centuries ago.
Of course, a 17th-century Quaker would be likely to dismiss the singular “they” as diabolically bad grammar. But hey, who asked them?
namaste everybody, Lisa a romano the breakthrough a life coach and today I
wanted to talk about narcissistic triangulation and why narcissists need
to triangulate in the first place so that we can understand and why I think
it’s important that we take some time to consider why triangulation is so huge
for narcissists is because alice is making a bunch of noise in my office
right now she’s just getting comfortable so that’s the groaning you hear Alice
anyway so it’s important that we understand that triangulation goes hand
in hand with narcissism and narcissistic rage narcissistic projection and all
that goes along with dealing with a very unhealthy personality who is extremely
shame-based and is doing everything that they possibly can to deflect from
anybody ever being able to see past the mask and they will use just about any
any tactic necessary to prevent anybody from seeing their flaws and so I just
did a video if you haven’t seen it on self-acceptance oh you might want to
check that out because kind of dovetails nicely into this idea healthy people
accept that they have flaws and they accept that they’re human and they know
that humility is part of the human experience and they learn to heal their
shame they identify that shame is is not necessary guilt can be very helpful and
that it helps us shape our behavior in the future so I know that I was a very
reactive young mom I was 23 when I had my son what did I know
and I was had very low self-esteem and I was severely codependent so really below
the veil very reactive you know just thinking if I did everything right then
everything’s gonna if I was good and I was a doormat and I took care of
everybody then life somehow would work out you know that was mixed in with a
lot of the my indoctrination from growing up as a Catholic being told that
I should worry more about others and then myself and my mother used to say to
me you should be ashamed of yourself right whenever I didn’t act accordingly
and so we we as healthy people are understanding that you know guilt can
help us shape our behavior so if I realized that I was over reactive and
very you know it was just an overreacted young mom I can feel guilt about that
about my behavior and that guilt can help me change my behavior in the future
that’s awesome but we’re learning that shame is not us
shame shame comes from the outside it’s an experience from outside it’s related
to family secrets it’s it’s related to what’s going on in our child’s at home
that we can’t work out and we feel terrified that people are going to know
that there’s mental illness in our family or our mother or father committed
suicide or our brothers on drugs or i’ont committed suicide or whatever
right so we’re so afraid of these truths that have nothing to do with us right
and many of us carry this shame so we’re healthy people are understanding like
okay shame is happened to me someone made me feel shame it’s like someone
gave you a sweater I call it the SOS the sweater of shame and as you heal and
become more above the veil you become more conscious like I can take this
fricking sweater off anytime I want to because it’s not my fault that I have
this shame nobody should shame a child and a child should never have to carry
the weight of the world on their shoulders alone there should always have
been someone there attuning themselves the child making them feel better and
helping them understand their circumstances I don’t need this sort of
shame anymore but when it comes to narcissistic personalities their shame
is so deep and they are so defensive that they deflect and they project
because they can’t get to that space of what happened to me you know they can’t
and they don’t want to they have no desire to go there right so healthy
people who have been wounded go there it hurts like hell trust me been there a
few times you know I’m still dealing with myself you know and what’s happened
but we’re all working progress right so healthy people are able to go there and
heal their shame and and recognize the shame is not made with
something that happened to me you know and as difficult as a process as it is
and anybody has ever taken my 12-week breakthrough coaching program
we’re digging you know we’re getting in there we’re just we’re scrubbing the
walls of the soul and you know we’re trying to figure out what happened and
it’s tough stuff but people who refuse to take that journey who are defensive
and and deflect all the time and project who never get to that that core of what
is at the root of their anger and their rage and their disappointment in life
right they end up staying stuck and they end up blaming people for why they feel
the way they feel so so why does a narcissist
why does try any triangulation go hand and hand with a narcissist in my humble
opinion I am a Cho in my humble opinion triangulation goes hand in hand with
narcissistic abuse because the narcissist has got to make sure they end
up on the top so if a narcissist is in a relationship with you and they do this
all wherever they go in my opinion so if a narcissist is at work right in a work
setting a narcissist can act like he is that his partner’s best friend but
behind his partner’s back you know he’s talking about the partner in the break
room you know Ralph is a nice guy but you know he had a nervous breakdown
about you know six years ago yeah you know his poor wife you know he’s a
handful I mean on the surface he looks like a
great guy he’s so easy to deal with but you know the reality is he’s got so many
problems and you know you know I’m doing my best to like you know drag him along
like you know keep him going and you know I’m gonna take him out next Friday
and make sure that you know you know he’s okay meanwhile Ralph is fine
Ralph’s a hundred percent fine routes 110% fine Ralph has no issues whatsoever
but let’s say the narcissist name is Mark you know mark is making sure that
if there’s ever a fall with Ralph that mark ends up on the top
that people like oh my god poor mark because he has to he has to make a claim
against you right he’s building up a case against you or building up a case
against Ralph in the in the event that there is an issue he cut mark ends up
looking like he’s the guy on top so narcissists are always collecting flying
monkeys whether we know it or we don’t but it is a very common common trait you
have let’s say you’re married to a narcissist and you know behind your back
he’s calling his family and he’s he’s talking to his friends he’s even calling
your friends he’s my ex-husband did this my ex-husband called my friends called
my mother hung out with my brother talked to my father and in one breath
was saying to him your daughter’s like she could have been a rocket scientist
she’s amazing there’s nothing that could have could have held her back but to me
he was calling me name saying that I was a flake saying that I was crazy saying
things like even your mother thinks you’re crazy which means you had a
conversation with my mother about me behind my back which means you pulled
her into our life and into our conversation right or just into our
experience triangulation so this is a very common thread and it’s amazing when
you see it right you know they have to triangulate because they’re concerned
that if anything they’re always thinking ahead whether it’s on whether it’s
conscious or unconscious they’re always making claims against our the people so
that they always look like the victim so in my humble opinion narcissistic
triangulation is the norm narcissists are always collecting flying monkeys and
it doesn’t matter if it’s at work it doesn’t matter if it’s in the doctor’s
office it doesn’t matter if it’s in a relationship with a friend or
relationship with a spouse their agenda is to make sure that they look like the
victim very very important and we have to be prepared because
and this is what happens to us like in my case you know I was the codependent
and I never went to my family about my ex-husband because I wanted them to see
him as a nice guy you know I wanted to make them proud
you know I also knew that if I went to my parents and told them I think to sum
up with this guy they wouldn’t have believed me because
he spent so much time convincing them that he was awesome and because I was so
codependent and I was worried about not looking perfect and I was worried about
being judged for being unhappy I was taught that I wasn’t allowed to be
unhappy and how dare you you’re selfish for being unhappy I never told anybody
about my ex-husband I kept it to myself so I was not collecting flying monkeys I
wasn’t triangulating and then what happens when the roof blows off and the
floor gets pulled out from underneath you you go to talk to your friends and
lo and behold you discover that your husband or your boyfriend or your
girlfriend has been talking to them about you the entire time and so when
you go for support nobody believes you nobody understands you and when the
smear campaign starts you feel like you swallowed a grenade like what just
happened you review the agenda is to stay above you and right so I can’t have
an open conversation with you I have to stay above you right and I don’t know I
don’t want to resolve this with you because I am the victim and I want to
make sure that I remain the victim so I have to stay above you so that’s also
another another key idea to keep in mind and that’s why narcissism involves
triangulation and that’s why when relationships end there is there are
smear campaigns because it’s been happening when you didn’t even realize
it was happening behind your back there was a collection of smear complaining
monkeys there was this collection of things happening that you weren’t even
aware of and you know we have to if if we have been woken up in a relationship
with the narcissist you know we realize we’ve been in a relation
with the narcissist you know unfortunately we have to expect that the
smear campaign is an inevitable aspect of ending that relationship because they
can’t just go away they can’t just end the relationship
they can’t just ride off into the sunset and start another relationship and say
wow what did that past relationship teach me know narcissists must destroy
you they are aggressive they are hell-bent on destruction and the more
you come at them the more they’re gonna try to annihilate you right angry stuck
below the veil of consciousness reactive and totally believe they are the victim
and so when you take all of this into consideration you will take into
consideration the shame that they’re trying to run from right and how anger
sometimes can prevent can make them feel safe right so if I make you the bad guy
I never have to look at me and if you’re the bad guy and you’re crazy
then whatever wisdom comes out of your mouth possibly I can deflect because
you’re crazy and you’re no good and so I never have to let what you have to have
you have to say penetrate my soul and crack the mask so then I never have to
deal with the tremendous shame that’s inside of me
so sometimes anger and rage is like a shield and that prevents narcissists
from actually able being able to actually deal with their shame and then
if you understand that they must remain the victim then you also have to you
also can understand why they triangulate and what the purpose is of it and the
reason I like to do these types of videos is because once you understand
the the agenda once you understand the mechanics once you once you understand
why a narcissistic personality would take this on then it’s easier for us to
step step away from it you know it’s really really mind-blowing when you find
yourself in a relationship with the narcissist that you’ve cared about and
the relationship has ended and you just go to work the next day minding your own
business like wow it sucks you know I can’t believe this person was this
person like you know I love this purse you know and but you’re going you mind
your own business you’re going about life and taking care of yourself and
doing your Epsom salt baths or whatever you know hold it onto your crystals
going for some Reiki whatever floats your boat and then BAM out of nowhere
you get hit upside your head with some news of a smear campaign minding your
own business and here comes the smear campaign or you decide to meet up with
some girlfriends and talk about why you broke up and you know by the look on her
face she’s like that’s not what I heard what do you mean is that what you heard
and then you find out that your husband and your boyfriend or whatever has been
talking to your girlfriend the whole time that you’ve been with them right it
is devastating and it can make you feel so alone and I can tell you as someone
who has been accused of so many different things by my ex-husband and
his family and even some friends I can tell you that it makes you feel like you
have you are three months old you know you have been dropped off in the middle
of the Brooklyn Bridge and they’re attractive trailers coming at you you
know the helicopters with machine guns hovering over and it’s dark you know
it’s not gonna rain and you’re this 3-month little old baby on this bridge
and oh my god you know it makes you feel so powerless and so helpless and like
the world is coming to an end but hold on and know that the more you hold onto
yourself in the less attention you give this situation you are pulling your
energy from it remember what we focus on grows right and so imagine that this
isn’t an energetic ball his energy or her smear campaign whatever it is is an
energetic ball and your job is to pull as much energy and drain as much energy
from it as possible so that it can dissipate and shrink so the less
attention you give it don’t look on Facebook don’t talk to the friends
who’ve been pulled in you don’t have conversations about what’s going on
deliberately pull your attention from it in the meantime up your self-care very
very important and so dodging it with namaste namaste and also know you know I
also teach your Law of Attraction class and
this question always comes up like I thought I was doing better how could I
have tracked this into my life and you know I’ve done so much healing work how
could this happen to me again you know and then they start to feel bad
sometimes members feel bad that this has shown up right that this abusive
relationship has shown up with this conversation has shown up and I thought
I was doing so much better so just a little bit about that what is within us
that needs to be healed will eventually come to the surface and when it comes to
a certain comes to the surface that’s a that’s our opportunity to heal it so
that we can move forward so we’re always trying to I think anyway in my humble
opinion iMHO I think what we’re trying to do is
evolve and to leave old paradigms behind so that we can create new paradigms and
move and accelerate forward on our spiritual journey and so while something
is still active inside of us it could be the fear of what other people think
about us it could be leftover shame from childhood right it could be a pattern in
ourselves the I know for me after I got divorced I attracted three narcissistic
relationships one was worse than the other and these were criminals hello I
didn’t know that I eventually figured that out but seriously this was serious
stuff and what I had to look at was I was the common denominator so what was
coming up from me right what was coming up for me was eventually I realized I
was ignoring some red flags that my inner guidance was was sending me
signals and I was saying no I was rationalizing them away and so that’s
why after the last relationship I was like I’m not ignoring red flags anymore
because what I do hell breaks loose and so that’s what I came that’s that’s what
I attracted into my life because I want truth and I want growth and so here I am
asking for growth and when you ask for growth you will be presented with what
needs to shift and as long as we stay clear as to the goal for our humanity or
for our souls journey as long as we understand we’re here to transcend the
old and we don’t freak out what it shows when it shows itself like when we find
out someone stole money from us so we find out someone’s lied to us it’s been
it’s it’s now part of our experience because it’s sort of like a layer of
skin that’s now at the surface that we need to slough off right and that’s an
awesome thing so try not to get caught up thinking that because it’s in our
experience it’s a bad thing because time and time again
I mean I’ve coached probably thousands of people personally as well as through
my coaching programs and what is showing up is this idea that every time a
conflict is resolved abundance shows up whether it’s abundance of light energy
or abundance of healing energy so don’t allow the linear brain good bad up down
left right Democrat Republican fool you into thinking or believing in this
illusion that this is a bad thing if something’s showing up in your
experience is painful that’s a good thing because it’s an opportunity to
heal it and to shift and to become a more abundant light activated body being
person soul person so it’s all good as long as we don’t allow our minds to tell
us that it’s not good and so there are definitely tools that we can use on the
road as we’re learning to heal ourselves and here our lives like the 1 2 3
process you can look up look up the 1 2 3 process on my channel there are so
many tools that we can use so you can also check out codependent now what it’s
naughty what you’re programming I have a ton of resources and a ton of life
skills that you can use to help you manage when chaos comes up so I hope
that this this video has helped you understand why trying why narcissists
triangulate and what you can do to get out of get out of a head of it if you
find yourself in the middle of it and how important it is to just remove your
energy from it and just just let them just let them burn out because I mean
when you ignore a narcissist like that makes them crazy when you set a boundary
that makes them nuts like they they can’t handle it right and so what will
happen is they won’t be able to contain the
narcissistic rage and I know that sounds crazy but hear me as long as you do what
you can to maintain your energy and you just allow this little Tasmanian devil
to spin out what’s gonna happen is the flying monkeys you know family members
your friends whatever they’re gonna start to see what’s really behind the
mask which is destruction which is annihilation which is the opposite of
love and letting go and abundance right and so try to keep this in mind the next
time you’re dealing with this or if you’re dealing with this and know that
ultimate self care ultimate self empathy can definitely ease the pain of having
to survive a narcissistic smear campaign you’re not alone I’ve survived one or
two in my life so know that you’re in good company and everything’s gonna be
fine just love yourself because you are enough now I must say I bow to the love
and the light that is absolutely in you and for anyone who’s interested in my
membership site you can check it out at HTTPS dot dot slash slash Lisa – a dash
Romano dot Micah jabra.com I have a bunch of programs and video lessons and
audio lessons and meditations and downloadable files including a copy of
the road back to me and some of my best-selling programs not the 12-week
and not the master class but other programs are actually in the in the
membership site as well and so just check it out and let me know what you
think bye for now
There’s an insane phenomenon called “prosperity gospel” where preachers tell their audiences to send them tons of money so they can live lives of luxury/private jets. Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below. “If you’ve ever wondered why some Christian preachers must hopscotch the globe in fancy private jets, it’s in part so that they don’t have to get on commercial planes with the “demon” common folk. Preachers from the so-called “prosperity gospel” movement, Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis, tried to explain their controversial need for their followers to give up their hard-earned dollars so they can fly in luxury in an interview posted Wednesday. Copeland then pointed out he could “scratch my flying itch” by riding around in his single-engine, open-cockpit plane. “But we’re in soul business here,” he said. “We got a dying world around us. We got a dying nation around us. And we can’t even get there on an airline.””*