366. Influence (X)
If, per my last post, narcissism characterises the left, then how can you reduce narcissism? For starters, there must be a biological predisposition towards narcissism, as with, so far as I can tell, all the traits that characterise man. People who are more narcissistic than others will be found—as are many leftists—among Hollywood actors, artists, journalists, salesmen, and, really, anyone whose life is primarily concerned with the creation of alternative realities. It is hard to see how you can be an actor without being narcissistic, since an actor, by definition, must put on many different masks; perhaps we could say that actors are not necessarily malignant narcissists, although they are more predisposed to it than others.
Those whose narcissism is particularly acute probably will be found among actors; if you start acting young enough you may do so to conceal a certain emptiness within, rather than starting from that emptiness and working outwards. The actor-politician has become a familiar part of the Western landscape—Justin Trudeau, Ronald Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger—and what is narcissistic about these men must in some way be integral to their character. Actors have become powerful along with the lie.
However, there must be a degree to which narcissism can be induced—or made more severe in those with a natural predisposition—and I suppose this is what people allude to when they say certain parts of their life “ground” them, whether that is a hobby, social activity, or faith. Whether an activity really grounds someone is somewhat debatable; narcissists, being fantasists, rarely have a firm grip on reality—even their own experiences. Insofar as narcissism is inherent in some professions, then the answer from a social view is to isolate those professions from power; and this is why civilisational decay has always been linked to actors enjoying high status.
One way to reduce narcissism is to get a person to experience the void or emptiness that lies behind all human masks, since it is this void that they flee through masks crafted for social relations. This is tricky because it is experiential, not intellectual. If you say to the narcissist, “You’re nothing,” they will take this as a statement about their social status and either explode at you or sulk. Narcissism is not just about believing you are great and fantastic and wonderful; it is possible to be a scruffy, untidy, and apparently humble narcissist. The latter plays the mask-game, “Poor lil ‘ol me”. If you tell them they are nothing they are likely to say, “You’re right. I always suspected as much.” What follows will probably be a codependent game where they tell you how inadequate and unworthy they are while you have to play the role of the “honest critic”—or, depending on developments, persecutor.
Teenagers tend to be more narcissistic than adults, and the teenage Goth who is terrified that someone will see them enjoy a Disney film is as narcissistic as the all-round sports star and A-grade student who brags about his accomplishments—possibly more so. Narcissism is all about prioritising the act above all; the nature of the act varies, so narcissists may appear self-sacrificing or modest as much as bombastic and forward. It is a difficult matter to tell someone to stop the act; the narcissist does not even believe they are an actor—or they have wrapped this truth in lies so it is obscure to them.
Extraction from narcissism, if that is even possible, requires a change of heart—metanoia—in which a person confronts the void within; put less starkly, they sit with the inner stillness. Real change comes from within; often through the silence, rare in modernity, found in meditation. Intellectual confrontation—as with the conservative who tells the liberal actor, “You’re not that important.”—itself feeds into the narcissistic dynamic, giving the narcissist an opportunity for self-pity or rage. To lead someone out is a subtle business; they have to walk out themselves, without manipulation or compulsion.