The unopposed Grandiose Self [GS] gives rise to tyrants big and small; to megalomaniacal dictators and dictator wannabees; to unbelievable corporate greed and plundering; and to the typical criminal sociopath in all his/her glory. The damage that such individuals do in individual relationships, in business, in politics and in all spheres of human behavior, is well documented and appreciated in the world. Most children are abjured repeatedly never, never to be "selfish". To always consider others. Laws are set up to protect people from victimization at the hands of these unrestrained grandiose monsters, unable to see other people as distinct individuals separate from their own self. These "others" exist only as the means to achieving their own desires.
But far more menacing to humanity as a whole is the less well-known side of narcissism that originates from the unrestrained IO [Idealized Object], which has unlimited potential to cause human misery and death; and whose destructiveness we have seen dominate the 20th century. The countless dead bodies that are the direct result of this form of malignant narcissism are quickly forgotten because they died as some nations, religions, ideologies attempted to implement their IDEAL in the real world.
This second type of evil is more subtle, and it derives from the ethics of the IO side of the self. The IO also does not see other people as distinct individuals with needs and desires of their own, but only as fodder for the expression of an IDEAL; or as pawns for the wishes of a deified GS. People with this narcissistic defect completely reject the needs of the individual and enslave him or her to the service of their IDEAL. Eventually, the enslavement--whether religious or secular--snuffs out human ambition, confidence, energy, self-esteem, and life. These mindlessly malignant "do-gooders" -- like our Nobel Laureate mentioned at the start of this article-- do far more harm than good and their ideologies can lead to genocidal practices and unbelievable atrocities on a grand scale, all in the name of an IDEAL or GOD.
The malignant and sociopathic potential of both the GS and IO are inherent in all members of the human species. They are flip sides of the same human coin, you see. One side cannot exist without the other. Either a way is found to synthesize the two, or an individual will forever flip-flop between them--coldly and viciously tyrannical toward all humans in pursuit of his own desires on the one hand; and on the other, coldly and viciously determined no matter what the cost in human lives and suffereing to implement his IDEAL in all human society.
We are always warned about the individual narcissitic sociopaths; but most people don't appreciate the sociopathic qualities of groups, religions, nations, and ideologies that demand all individuals sacrifice themselves for the good of the latest utopian ideal or some blood-thirsty god.
In our modern world, the Islamic Jihadists have perfected this ethical demand; and the suicide-bomber is the ultimate expression of their ethics. (see the post "Union With An Evil God" and "Narcissistic Rage and Awe" for more on this).
But they are not alone in their disregard and contempt for the individual, who they see as only existing to serve the IDEAL, or to bring about the utopia/paradise/caliphate/[insert fantasy delusion here].
Extremes of both the political left and the political right are also dominated by the malignant narcissism of the GS and the IO.
If we go back to our understanding of healthy narcissistic development, we appreciate that the GS and the IO in adults is a result of the failure of narcissistic synthesis. The developmental process that should lead to a healthy self is broken; or fractured; or poisoned.
This can happen under many and varied circumstances--some of which can be prevented and some of which cannot (but that is for another post). We see it happening to the Palestinian children, taught from birth to hate the other/Jew; taught to die for the IDEAL. We see it in college students who are encouraged by their malignantly narcissistic professors to reject traditional moral values; embrace nihilism, and transform the world according to the professor's utopian fantasy. We see it in the postmodern rhetoric of the socialists who still dream of a universal socialist utopia, no matter how many people they have to kill to make it happen.
It seems to me that, just as the 19th century was the age of hysteria; and the 20th the age of narcissism; the 21st is well on its way to being the age of the "selfless psychopath", that individual (primarily found lurking in the environment of the political left, but certainly not exclusively) willing to sacrifice everyone on the altar of their idealism. Or, as Caroline Glick so aptly refers to them: Peace Loving Murderers.
Glick is speaking specifically about Palestinian murderers and thugs who are celebrated as heroes in Gaza and the remarkably clueless current Israeli government that enables them; but her term captures the essence of today's "antiwar" movement and the neo-Marxist ideology that animates it.
Scratch most of today's antiwar activists and you find people who are not so much antiwar as they are anti-capitalist, anti-America, anti-Israel, anti-freedom and anti-reality. As for being "antiwar", they are entirely willing to wage war and kill indiscriminantly when it is in support of their underlying ideology.
These are the "peace-loving murderers" who support and enable utopian ideologies that oppress, brutalize, and kill--but in the name of "peace" and "social justice" and some distorted concept of "human rights". They invite murderous, lying thugs like Ahmadinejad to tea and celebrate the likes of Hugo Chavez, even as he slowly and methodically destroys the soul of Venezuela.
These are the naked, or pink, or Kaffia-wearing protesters who claim to "support the troops" even as they encourage and enable those who are killing them.
Never in history have so many displayed so much casual psychopathy. Most could care less about the genocide going on in Sudan--but let the U.S. decide to intervene to try and stop it and you will be astonished at how their focus will shift as they sense yet another opportunity to undermine and demonize that which is good on the altar of their endless narcissism.
Even now, they are in the process of transforming the ugly, repressive regime of Iran and the psychopaths who run it into victims of U.S. aggression and imperialism.
Siggy has been writing a series on the age of psychopathy for Pajamas Media (see here and here) in which he notes:
Left unchecked, pathology always escalates to a higher level of dysfunction, and narcissism of the malignant variety almost always progresses to frank psychopathy.
In free societies, political discourse has become extreme. In not-so-free societies, it has evolved into denial of reality and calls for violence and even genocide. In the latter societies, people really do believe the most bizarre, horrific and genocidal ideas foisted on them by the dysfunctional regimes that rule them. They willingly construct fantasies and complicated conspiracies to support and buttress those beliefs.
But free societies are not immune or blameless. For example, Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and 9/11 conspiracies flourish in the Arab world. But the only reason those dysfunctional beliefs continue to be regarded as ‘acceptable and ‘mainstream’ is because there are dysfunctional individuals and groups, even in free societies who give those paranoid ideas credibility and support.
If that sort of cognitive malignancy which can take hold even in a free society were to be denounced and exposed for the cancer it is, the people who hold those beliefs would be marginalized.
The reason such dysfunctional and irrational thinking is not denounced has nothing to do with good and evil, or even right and wrong. The vast majority of people are able to distinguish between right and wrong. But that said, the evils that arise out of the mental dysfunction, and which have underwritten the deaths of millions upon millions, are frequently not denounced because of political agendas and the ideologies that drive them.
We simply don’t want to admit that politics in free nations, expressed by supposedly caring souls, can be as deadly as the ‘politics’ in nations governed by tyrants.
In this new age, it has become de rigueur for the poltical left (and sometimes the political right) to mouth the slogans of peace and social justice, even as the accompanying behavior enables and facilitates the objectives of tyrants, murderers and psychopaths on the international stage.
This is the legacy of the unrestrained idealism of malignant narcissism. The human misery and the millions of deaths brought about by the glorious revolutions and utopias of the 20th century are going to pale by comparison when placed side-by-side with the efforts of the caring and compassionate, peace-loving murderers of the 21st.
God help us.