“Self-love is the new beginning of a love affair that lasts a lifetime” (O. Wilde)
The standard, healthy form of self-love has little to do with what might be called “romance.” The first option is based not only on self-esteem but also on recognizing their shortcomings and weaknesses. The second – romantic – scenario leads to self-centeredness.
In it, the basis of problems in the relationship of narcissists with the people around them lies. After all, one of the new main features of unhealthy selfishness is the inability to take care of others and dissatisfaction because their personality is not given enough attention. “Having destroyed all prejudices, we regard everyone as zeros, and ourselves as units.”
(A.S. Pushkin) *
These stanzas from Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” perfectly illustrate two types of love for oneself: healthy or turning into narcissism. Yu.M. Lotman, in his commentary on the novel, notes that the figure of Napoleon was for Pushkin “the highest manifestation of pan-European egoism, his activity emphasized political immorality and a willingness to sacrifice everything to personal ambition.”
The surrounding people are nothing more than a “tool”, a tool for achieving a personal goal. Lotman interprets the second quote as “a practical recipe for how to behave in the light.” And he cites as an example Pushkin’s advice to his brother – “Be cold with everyone; familiarity always hurts. ”
In this case, self-esteem – or, better to say, self-love – appears to be a means to preserve personal dignity, oneself and one’s independence in an always cold and hostile secular environment. “Self-love always crawls out like a snake to bite” (J.G. Byron) Byron, one of the foremost preachers of romantic egoism, had a great sense of its nature. Comparing pride with a poisonous snake biting others is a vivid metaphor for the behaviour of a narcissist.
If you suddenly say or do something that an egoist considers a claim to his leadership, uniqueness or impeccable taste, he will attack you like a snake – do not hesitate. People of this kind guard their inflated self-esteem like the apple of their eye and are ready to defend it with all their zeal.
“The blind should be portrayed not love, but narcissism” (Voltaire) Voltaire, with his characteristic laconicism, formulates one of the main problems faced by the narcissist. Manic narcissism prevents people from seeing themselves as they are. The self-portrait drawn in their minds is radiant, and behind its blinding light, the narcissist tries to hide his shortcomings from himself and those around him. It’s not enough for such people to be ordinary. They interpret their personality as endowed with not just positive but super-positive characteristics. This desire for high levels can be laid in them from childhood – thanks to their parents.
The triumph from the fact that an incredibly high and unattainable height for everyone else is taken requires an exit and turns into a permanent demonstration of one’s superiority. The problem is that inwardly convincing perfection is not so noticeable on the outside. Therefore, others see the portrait without embellishment – a mixture of selfishness, condescension and arrogance.
“Half of the world’s evil comes from people who want to feel important. They do not want to harm, but the harm they bring in reality does not bother them. They either do not notice or justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think of themselves well. “(T. S. Eliot)
This quote from the classic of American poetry, Thomas Eliot, emphasizes the big difference between the ill-will of the narcissist (that is, the hatred of society characteristic of a sociopath) and such a secondary factor in the behaviour of a narcissist as inattention to others.
It does not even occur to such people that their actions can be harmful. Egocentrism and increased attention to one’s own person’s interests deprive the egoists of the opportunity to understand others’ feelings and empathize with loved ones.
The needs of the “I” and the desire to continually be better than others prevent them from seeing the problems and dangers of their behaviour. Because in their world, all these costs are worthwhile. “I don’t care what you think about as long as you don’t think about me.” (K. Cobain)
A quote from the song “Drain You” from the legendary Nirvana album “Nevermind” reveals another essential character trait for the narcissist. This is a fundamental unwillingness to listen to the interlocutor. The narcissist is utterly indifferent to everything that does not concern him directly.
He is physically incapable of having a sincere, genuine interest in another person. With one exception – if suddenly the speech does not come about himself. Because in this case, in the address of the interlocutor, the narcissist will be able to find additional evidence of his superiority, the confirmation of which is vital for him.