How I started on the road to understanding narcissism
The slow process - or the instant of eureka - of finding out about narcissism varies from person to person. Often I find web sites where either a victim or a narcissist "gets it." I don't know if this self awareness helps or hinders. In my case, I felt a load lifted from my shoulders. In the end, I think I found comfort knowing there were others out there who had similar experiences. As they say "misery likes company". So do narcissists. In this beginning section, I list the steps of how I came to understand narcissism, its personal and global impact.
My journey began after reading books that all described the same type of personality. I wasn't sure if they existed in real life until an emergency forced me to deal with these people face to face. Their masks fell and I saw what they were. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, looking behind the curtain to find a little man manipulating a larger than life puppet. The metaphor of the narcissist who puts up a false front that fools people is obvious - once you have the courage to pull back the curtain.
In my case, I had to change my pre-conceptions. Changing outlook means looking inward then outward with new eyes. Narcissism is everywhere, in all of us. It is both necessary and dangerous. Just like oxygen and water - a little bit is fine, too much is deadly. (look up the percentage of oxygen in the air, and water toxicity!)
No doubt my path to understanding would have been longer, or non existent except for the help of others online and in my real life. I am no longer the innocent who tried to be happy despite my ignorance - my understanding came at a personal price, I had to give up my illusions. Most people would rather keep their illusions; ignorance is bliss.
The internet holds a mass of information, both good and bad - both accurate and inaccurate. The internet is a place where people can meet, anonymously, to exchange ideas and to socialize. It is also a place where narcissists can play games with you. No one knows if you are a dog on the internet, or a narcissist.
Narcissism is not necessarily bad, or evil. If someone has Narcissistic Personality Disorder they may harm others in their need to keep their "image" intact. A few N's may be malignant and abusive. Caveat emptor.
You can also go here for my in depth chapter on Narcissism.
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