We hear the word “narcissist” frequently these days. A narcissist has a personality disorder
characterized by specific psychological and behavioral traits. These are grandiosity- a larger than life attitude about himself/herself; excessive self entitlement – an extreme sense that he is of greater value than others and can have whatever he wants; omnipotence – feelings of total power over their world and other people; self-absorption-putting oneself at center stage with the spotlight on them.
Narcissists are often very charming and magnetic. They fixate and psychologically seduce those they perceive will pursue their goals. A gifted high-level narcissist, pouring on every ounce of charm, makes you feel like the only person on the face of the earth. Most people can’t say “no” to them. Narcissists make promises to you that are irresistible. They appeal to that infantile part of ourselves that “wants it all.” A high-level narcissist leads us to believe that we can become as powerful, wealthy and important as he is. Narcissists are deceptive and manipulative in all of their relationships.
Narcissists have a great need for constant praise and adulation. Because of the compelling image they project and their ability to magnetize people to them, they surround themselves with a charmed circle of admirers and followers. Devotees are true believers. They are psychologically fused with the narcissist, believing that he is a superior human being who will save them. “Members of this elite group believe that the light that shines so brightly upon the narcissist will reflect back onto them, warming each one with an incandescent glow. Those who sit at the feet of the narcissist make him the focus of their lives.”
The inner circle around the narcissist often shares the largesse of his extraordinary lifestyle. With all of the benefits and blessings that flow from membership in the charmed circle, there is a precipitous downside. Those who share their lives with a narcissist-spouses, children, colleagues, friends, have made a losing bargain. They are throwing their talents away in exchange for counterfeit comfort and false status. Their creative potential to become separate, strong unique individuals is eclipsed in their role as devotee to a powerful demanding master. They are children again, mimicking the steps of their parents rather than creating their own life dance.
At some critical point the narcissist decides that it is time for a member elite group to be ejected. This individual is of no further value to him. The exit is often abrupt and unceremonious. The previous member of the charmed circle has been cast out, left alone and confused. Being removed from this special club presents the former follower with an opportunity to become independent, to play his own game at life. He no longer lives in the shadows of the narcissist’s grandiose persona. He is free to establish his own identity.