Narcissists and narratives

Binge watched and listened to Marc Maron and WTF the past few weeks. I didn’t know who he was until I heard him on Fresh Air a few weeks ago.  A comedian, he was one of the original godfathers of the podcast medium. He has had EVERYONE on his podcast. So respect, and jealousy.

“You really have to stop listening to Marc Maron.” – M


One thing I learned from Maron: Isis was right. Her advice was that I needed to keep writing consistently. Maron keeps to a rigorous posting schedule despite a chaotic artistic life. One of the secrets to being a productive neurotic is to be dependable. Let’s see if I can post every week.

Recently heard a podcast with the Robert Shiller explaining narrative economics and it sparked a connection with narcissists. Shiller believes that for economics to evolve, they must transcend raw mathematics and borrow from the humanities the art of narrative. I’ve been thinking a lot about narcissists, both the one in Washington, and ones in my life, and it dawned on me that narcissists are narrative ninja warriors.

The entire nation is learning about narcissistic personality disorder, but I had a head start — I have more than one malignant narcissist in my family. A signature feature is if you suggest to a narcissist that they are doing something wrong, causing someone pain for example, they respond with angry counterattack.  They can’t hear it. You are a bad person if you suggest to a narcissist that they are a bad person. Trying to explain my feelings and find compromise in these relationships has caused me a lot of suffering that I’m just now getting past. The narcissist is the Golden Child of their story and their psyche absolutely refuses this principle to be challenged. With a malignant narcissist, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. Facts and discussion won’t help. I’ve needed to move on from that, and so will opponents of the current administration.

Charismatic narcissists have honed to perfection the art of the narrative — the spinning of a compelling story. We all crave a narrative and don’t feel satisfied with data alone until we have one. As scientists, we are counseled to tell a story. The internal life of the narcissist has been replaced with unceasing  narrative construction, so they are masters of this very powerful tool. Distrust and fear are quick participants in their process, and they can draw many people in to a story of heroes and villains that feels so true. I want to shake my friends that don’t understand that these dynamics are utterly unshakable. They seem to believe that more facts and more calling out of sins, the narcissist will be shamed or convinced. They can’t. To a narcissist, you are a prop, and props don’t participate in the writing of the story. Engaging a narcissist doesn’t work, the only way to transcend is to adopt a different narrative. This takes discipline and consistency. I’m scared for my country these days, but in my home life, I’m fortunate to have a partner who listens and loves me and with whom I can co-write our story together.

Disclaimer: if you’re reading this and are mortified that I’m talking about you…I’m not talking about you!! You’re amazing!! I’m talking about the other one!!


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