This entry appears in the first pages of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago.
The journey the place and the process described seem to me a lot like the dark shadowy life of and with a narcissist.
A great deal is written, particularly online, about the toxic nature of this group within our society, with seemingly the suggestion that there are two distinct groups.
In group one premeditated users whose disposition is to take, to harm efficiently, sitting on the heads and shoulders of those around them. People with no regard for others beyond the capacity to support their existence in a world grown desolate and uncomfortable for everyone (including themselves).
That these people are growing in numbers.
In group two sits everybody else, narcissist victims and those removed from involvement, each individual a benign and empathic soul.
The Old Testament, Buddhist and Muslim treatise, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Wilde, Orwell, Huxley and others, I have found all proffer tales littered with characters falling perfectly into group one or two.
Seemingly then ‘narcissists’ are not a new breed, perhaps simply a new name.
I Note that history makes the good guys victorious, rarely do the bad guys win the day.
Never did any story resonate because the ‘weak’ were the ultimate victors
A wiser man than I taught me that ‘All people make sense all the time, at least to themselves.
If that is so then I guess no person displays behaviour without it making sense to them, at least in the moment.
That same wise sage also taught me that we each have a lizard brain (amygdala).
Sat at the bottom of a murky pond looking out at reality with only one job. To protect you from danger. This reptile brain function seemingly has limited mechanisms to deal with those threats, fight or flee, freeze or submit....... that’s the lot.
When small and living in a world of Giant Overlords (adults) Tasmanian devils (peers), and ghouls and monsters of the imagination (everyone else) our lizard gets to figure out what works, in many different situations.
During that period the rest of the brain like the body is not fully formed and so Douglas (that’s my lizard) develops a vivid imagination, borne from erring toward caution.
That seems to me quite logical as casual might leave a threat averse lizard, and host..well dead!
I have learned that this does then mean that these reptiles tend to see threat where little or none exist.........yay imagination
Dammit and then we go and grow up.
One more thing I learned to understand about your lizard protector.
To be effective, millions of years back, probably after some catastrophic failure, nature handed over the keys to the kingdom.
No matter how much you ‘rationalise’ threat, when Douglas sees it he acts, when Douglas panics he acts.
A lizard’s job .
Remove you from threat with no care about the rest. Your intellectual brain can develop choices, gain momentum in life by moving away from pain or moving toward pleasure, but this reptile is primal brain, dealing only with the need for safety.
So I reflect - a bunch of biped mammals filled with the voices of cognitive thought doing dumb stuff that makes sense to them, and often little sense to anyone else.
Each one of them nursing a dumb as custard reptile that takes over the whole shebang in a hundredth of a second if threat looms (real or imagined)
So here's a thought ....... what if it turns out the 'so called' narcissist dance macabre is a reaction to constant and never arrested threat?
The grandiose fantasy of fulfilment, a battle field illusion borne of timeworn never ending terror
If so I guess this does not ameliorate the damage done, the pain caused and suffered. But this narrative proposes that if narcissism truly is on the increase that is quite likely to be a diametrical result of victimicity being on the increase also.
So I propose that it is time to start taking care of your lizard
Seems to me it is good to be a victim, it fills a person’s day with distraction, and allows surrender from responsibility and the opportunity to stay asleep.
If you deem you are less visible than you would like crying is one very old mammal mechanism for getting attention.
The trouble is crying attracts predators, and puts lizards on Def-con alert
So I suggest using the vampire analogy, which is surprisingly often attached to narcissistic descriptions.
One rule is that they cannot enter your space if you don’t invite them.
I think then that if you keep asking them in you really must stop complaining that they mess your place up
And so I wonder is it not time for us as a society to grow up?
To stop complaining about what has been done to us.
To stop pricking our lizards so often that they no longer see any difference between real and imagined danger
Seems to me an individual can only heal when the locus is on what they can change, and that begins only when a person listens to their truth, look inwards and start to accept what they are responsible for
Perhaps it is true that as a world narcissism is on the increase.
Those terrified children that never grew up are on the increase.
If so where did all the strong self-aware adults go?
The people that might one day lead, by personal growth and example, to a happier place where we can all sit in peace and enjoy a margherita under a Mexican sky.......
The King James Bible tells that the meek (those abiding in peace) shall inherit the Earth.
It was quite clear on that, it said the meek not the weak!
David Jackman June 2019