Pathological narcissism

Narcissists have surrounded me. My wife and I have been watching the series on Jeffrey Epstein, whose behavior’s written off as a sociopathic side effect of the “me me me” condition. Side characters making cameos in his story include our current president and Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen.

It has gotten us talking about friends and family, about who we work with. It’s gotten me looking inside at all that’s involved in writing a daily blog that dives regularly into memoir, and pushes me to trumpet my thoughts and opinions as observations and philosophizing.

I’ve always known it takes Herculean ego to accomplish major feats, to reach that level of success. You can rise, well enough, by following rules and doing all that’s expected and always pushing to achieve not only something better, but any moment’s idea of what could be best. But to “take control” means leaping in such a way that elbows often get thrown, taunts leveled, or others’ needs ignored.

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I’ve known many who have made names for themselves in the arts, or running businesses. They say it was just hard work involved, but that hard work also involved long hours where smaller household tasks were eschewed.

That pushiness seeps into all one’s relationships, after a while. The idea of one’s success becomes inseparable from narcissism.

A few blogs back I spoke of a speech given by Jimmy Carter, who many think of as the opposite of a narcissist. Turns out he prepped by spending a long weekend at Camp David with Christopher Lasch, the author of the 1979 bestseller, The Culture of Narcissism.

Lasch said that America has created a generalized personality disorder in the years since World War II, a “pathological narcissism” far beyond “hedonistic egoism” in its assumption of epic qualities.

I turn to Fawn. No, she says to my unasked question, you do not speak only of yourself. You care. You make amends for mistakes. You move on. You’re happy with who you are. You don’t push. You apologize.

I feel a smile rising but then pause. A new thought arises.

My buddy Otis, in Austin, told me earlier today that “guilt is only asking permission to fuck up again.”

I decide to keep that one for another evening’s discussion. And watch a bit more about Epstein and crew, carefully.