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When Loyalty is a Prison

An excerpt from a blog by a psychiatrist who explores narcissism and it's impact on individuals and society.  Demonstrates how components of healthy ego development go astray and become polarized or split into the ideologist and the follower, the narcissist and their enabler.  

THE NARCISSISTIC SYNTHESIS - Sometimes, You Get What You Need

Narcissism and Society, Parts 1-3:


"In an earlier post on "The Narcissistic Dialectic", I argued that the development of a healthy psychological self in each individual is determined by the concurrent evolution of two opposed developmental lines --one originating from the primitive self of the infant; and the second from the idealized m(other) on whom the infant is totally dependent for survival. Any conflicts between the two poles must be resolved by adulthood for optimal psychological functioning in the world.    

Problems for the individual and for society occur when remnants of either side of this dialectic are not fully integrated into a "cohesive self" in adulthood, and thus emerge as dysfunctional behavior. It is fair to say that much of the evil that humans do to each other comes as a result of the ensuing narcissistic rage and narcissistic awe/ idealism.

When the grandiose self is out of control; the fragments self of the individual(s) will manipulate,

control, subjugate, hurt and in extreme cases even kill others. This happens because without a cohesive self, other people are not seen as separate from the self, or even necessarily human. Those in the thrall of the grandiose self are not capable of real human empathy.

We see stories of this kind of thing happening all the time on the news, and frequently exclaim in astonishment, "How could someone do that?" Examples are the ex-boyfriend who cannot accept that the woman he loved has dared to withdraw her love from him and so must kill her (and often himself); the serial killer who does not experience others as really human; the pedophile who abuses then murders his child victim; and every petty criminal who believes implicitly that his feelings and desires are paramount and justify his behavior.

The second type problem for society at large is an evil that is far more subtle, but even more destructive; and it originates from the idealized object developmental line . Individuals with this particular narcissistic defect (as likewise described for the grandiose self) also do not see other people as separate individuals; and instead see them only as fodder for the expression of an IDEAL or as pawns for an Omnipotent Object (e.g., a dictator).

For all the lip service given to compassion and caring for others, the individual in the throes of narcissistic idealism also completely reject the needs of the individual and enslave him or her to their IDEAL. Eventually, the enslavement--whether religious or secular--snuffs out human ambition, confidence, energy and self-esteem. These "do-gooders" cause considerable human misery and their ideologies can lead to genocidal practices and unbelievable atrocities on a grand scale, all in the name of the IDEAL or GOD. Appropriate benevolence and compassion toward others can only occur when there is a cohesive self in residence; who accepts that other people are separate from him, with thoughts, desires, wishes and beliefs that may not coincide with his own--and that those others have a right to be so....." continued on the site.  

After I read the parts on Narcissism I read some of her political views and links; some interesting food for thought... even if she seems as divisive and assumptive as the leftists at times.  
The leader/follower polarity:  Excerpt:

"The first line Kohut refers to as the “Grandiose Self”(or idealized self image) and the second is referred to as the “Idealized Parent Image”. Both of these images represent psychological attempts to save the original experience of "perfection" by the infant when the Mother (Other) and the infant (Self) were “one”.

The “grandiose self” will develop over time (if not disrupted) into healthy Self-Esteem; and the” idealized other” (or idealized parent image) will eventually lead to the development of ideals that give meaning to the individual’s life; to empathy and healthy interpersonal relationships.

I also argued in that series that from these two emerging parts of the self comes the predeliction for one type of social/political/economic system or another. In particular, the grandiose self prefers to live in those systems that maximize individual liberty and self expression i.e., "life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness." On it's extreme side (without any integration of the idealized self into its functioning), the grandiose self in a social context can lead to excessive ambition, narcissistic grandiosity, indifference to others, and what is commonly referred to as "narcissistic rage" when it is thwarted in its pursuit of satisfaction.

The idealized object, on the other hand, prefers the authoritarian society because it recaptures the primitive--and perfect-- union the infant once had with mother. Those social/political/economic systems that promise such a union (i.e., most religions, socialism, communism and all their totalitarian variants) are the systems that feel right.

On the idealized object's extreme side are the intense utopian urges that distinguish any cult; the submersion of individual identity and selfhood into the collective; and what I have referred to as the "narcissistic awe" one experiences in contemplating the pursuit of union, or utopia.

On their own, without the attenuating influence of the other line, either side is a distortion of human nature.... the grandiose self, left to its own devices with minimal interference from or integration with its counterpart, the idealized object, becomes the prototype of the tyrant--cold, ruthless, and without pity for others. He goes his way wreaking havoc in the world, supressing other individuals to his will and disposing of them without a thought. When thwarted his narcissistic rage and aggression are sights to behold.

The idealized object side of the self, left to its own devices with minimal interference from or integration with its own grandiose self, becomes the human fodder that acts out the will of the tyrant. Their overwheming desire for union with the perfect god, the perfect mother--i.e, the perfect "other"-- will inevitably lead them to revere the onminpotent grandiose self of others. They see only the "goodness" and perfection of the other; and they actively and single-mindedly pursue "union" with that other; often desiring to drag others with them toward that utopian ideal.

Parents and societies that deliberately try to suppress all individualistic tendencies (as is seen in most totalitarian societies) will encourage the development of a psyche that is ripe for takeover by a strong, grandiose dictator-thug.

It is important to note that the extreme, or "pure", state of either of these developmental lines does not exist in a real, living human being. We can discuss them in this sort of abstract manner; and tease out the implications of one side's development or the other; but both sides exist to some degree in every single human .....  these two processes can be thought of as flip sides of the same coin. Extremes of one side or the other occur because of breakdowns in empathy between the child and the parent or the larger environment. If these breakdowns are not resolved by adulthood, then the adult will continue to act them out, and they will flip back and forth between the two poles of the dialectic.

On the one hand, when the will of the grandiose self is thwarted, the individual will experience narcissistic rage and act out various types of aggression. When the union with the "perfect" object is not perfect (since it never will be), they experience even greater narcissistic idealism/awe and redouble their efforts to submit to the will of Big Br(other). 



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