Recently, I wrote about my experience with a narcissistic boss in the workplace, and what that means for dealing with/surviving Il Trumpe. Josh Grubbs, a researcher who studies narcissism, makes some additional excellent points (I’ve ‘translated’ his tweets into something easier to read; boldface mine):
For the next several years, keep in mind that narcissism doesn’t have an agenda outside itself.
Narcissism leads one to be obsessed with serving their own self image. The only “agenda” for a narcissist is making himself feel good…
It’s also worth remembering that narcissists are hard to consistently manipulate. Easy to bait, but hard to predict.
Those who think they can use a narcissist to accomplish their own agenda are severely overestimating their own abilities.
Unless your whole agenda is to make the narcissist feel good about himself, don’t bet that you can manipulate him to do anything, and don’t assume that you and your agenda will always make the narcissist feel good; someone who does that better than you will come along.
Narcissists crave new admirers and new boosts to their ego. Once you’ve complimented him enough, your adulation has no value…
…you get someone who is both utterly predictable & impossible to predict. Every action fits that mold, but specifics are impossible to guess. The best guess anyone has is: “in situation X, what response would make the narcissist feel best (smartest, most powerful) about himself?”
As long as the narcissist isn’t held accountable and is able to walk away from the wreckage, he will be fine. Unless there is a reckoning, this is a very effective political strategy: ditch those who suddenly are failing you. Which brings me to this sunny note I wrote:
The narcissist is often not very good for the organization’s mission. While he often rose to his position by selling a five-star sizzle on a one-star steak, he’s often underprepared and unskilled, and very dependent on others–essentially, he’s an Illustrious Name on the Door. Unfortunately, leaders, on occasion, do have to lead–and that does involve work, knowledge and experience, and relevant skills. The dishonest climate is another massive problem. Problems will fester and multiply because the narcissist doesn’t want to hear about them–the show must go on. Then things reach a crisis point, as the lies collapse on each other. At this point, the narcissist swings into paranoia and rage. Why did all of these awful people lie to me? (Can’t imagine why…). Then the impulsiveness kicks in. Needless to say, this isn’t the optimal environment for crisis management. So if you care about the goals of the organization, the narcissist boss is often the largest impediment. This too is soul-crushing.
Contrary to popular opinion, research definitively shows that narcissists make terrible leaders.
The charisma and machismo that often leads a narcissist to the top of a social hierarchy cannot sustain them once there.
Companies and organizations led by narcissists are failure-prone, with low employee morale and propensity toward unethical practices.
Again, this jibes with what I experienced, especially the unethical practice of constantly lying:
Just like the addict’s primary goal is to get that fix, the narcissist’s primary goal is to maintain the fantasy. They will construct elaborate mechanisms to deny unpleasant realities. Plainly put, they turn everyone around them into liars. You have to lie as a self-defense mechanism in order to fend off and manage the impulsiveness, the bouts of inadequacy, the hare-brained ideas, and the laziness and ineptitude. If you are a reasonably honest person, this is soul-crushing.
The next four years, even assuming we don’t go Full Putin (or Pinochet), are going to worse than Nixon and Reagan combined.
This leaves me really encouraged.