Wow. A TERRIFIC find today, sent by a reader. This is an essay providing an overview of Diabolical Narcissism written by a Catholic Deacon, Doug McManaman, in ARSH 2005. I had not seen it before today, but it is a SPECTACULAR companion piece/overview to the topic of Diabolical Narcissism. What I especially like is that it opens with a philosophical explanation of human evil that is a must-read by itself.
The author also keys into the “nothingness” of the DN that jumped out at me, and was crystallized one day at Mass when the Gospel was 1 Corinthians 13, the “if I have not love (caritas), I AM NOTHING” Gospel. In my research phase, when having conversations with people with a DN in their lives, even though the notion of Diabolical Narcissism was largely unknown to them, what kept striking me was the consistent use of the word “nothing” as a descriptor – of a human being. You don’t exactly hear that sort of rhetoric every day. “There’s nothing there.” “There is a computer brain, but nothing else.” “You have to turn the page – there is nothing there to reform.”
He cannot allow others to see what he sees in himself, for they will reject him. What they see will be as repulsive to them as it is to himself. So he must create a highly likable and acceptable image that will procure the affirmation he requires for himself, an affirmation that he can only get from others who do not know him as he really is. Thus begins the fundamental lie of the self-loathing egotist. For an image is a reflection. One can only see a reflection if it is mirrored in some way. The egotist must see his reflection through the eyes of others, and so others become a means to his own affirmation, a means to his own conviction that he really exists. For the deeply depraved have created a void, a nothingness in the heart of their character. But a person cannot detect the presence of nothingness. Hence, the egotist desperately needs to be convinced of his own existence. He needs to feel that he is. If he will not achieve this through the pursuit of virtue, he will do so through the affirmation, praise, and adulation of others, or through their fear of him….
The more intense the conflict between the experience of his nothingness and his emerging egotism, the more radical his manipulation of others. The more intelligent the egotist, the more able he is to hide his depravity by means of a clever reflection, and thus the more able he is to successfully convince others that they are loved and revered for their own sake. The longer he persists in his depravity, the more deeply he falls into the void that is de-created by the choices he continues to make.
From a purely moral point of view, this is how the narcissistic character disordered are created.
Do read the whole thing. I’ll be referring to it again. I have also put a permanent link to it on the DN page, which can be accessed through the menu at the top of the page.