“As the co-author of a recent study, Brad Bushman, explains, narcissism is the claim that you are superior to other people. From this core belief, bad things flow.”
So reads a June 8 article I found on the Guardian website today. As readers might imagine, the use of the phrase “core belief” resonated deeply with me, just days as I am into this Korebelief.com project.
While not mentioning the earthquake-like racist murder of 9 black people by a white 21 year-old male in the US on Wednesday night (because it had not yet occurred, obviously) the article predictively links that Aryan supremacist murder to acts perpetrated by a German Wings pilot in March, the butcher of Utøya (Norway 2011), beheadings by ISIS and other terrorist excesses.
And I can’t begin to explain how I felt when I realized that the German pilot’s
first name was “Andreas”, and then noticed that he is pictured in the Guardian article on a visit to California (see above), home of the San Adreas fault and the setting for the movie by that name.
I published a “preview” of that movie (which I still haven’t seen yet) on this site around the time that the Charleston race-hate “earthquake” took place.
The prescience implied in the links between what I wrote and the events that unfolded (and are still unfolding) is enough to excite my own narcissism: enough to make me feel that I’m special and entitled to be heeded.
Happily, I’ve learnt to manage this feeling of being special, so that I do not feel as aggrieved as I otherwise might when I think that I am being slighted.
I’ve learnt to manage my disappointment at being ignored, snubbed (by Lloyds Bank and BBC Norfolk’s Mike Liggins and David Clayton, for example) and otherwise not given the attention I believe I deserve – a sense of relative “entitlement” I have, which is based on my past achievements and the helpful contributions I believe I could make to British, Barbadian, American and other societies now and in the future.
And let me say here that the links between Charlestown, South Carolina, London, England and Bridgetown, Barbados, three countries featured most prominently in my semantic-seismological study of earthquakes is not lost on me.
Nor are the “girl God”, “Mother earth” dimensions of the Charleston killings. They include the identification of the church where the murders took place as “Mother Emmanuel”; the fact that 6 of the 9 people killed were women and the killers reported reference to the historical racist trope about black men raping white women.
According to the Guardian article, narcissistic murderers like Mohamed Emwazi and the Charleston racist typically attach their egregious acts of violence to such generalizing, “big picture” causes and rationalizations to give it (and themselves) a semblance of heroism and legitimacy.
I, on the other hand, temper my narcissistic propensities by focusing on specific, “small picture” realities. These realities underscore my interdependence with others and the necessity and soundness of the only counterbalance to the hubris that may accompany messianic, world-saving, “big ideas”: humility.
This is the kind of balanced, grounded mindfulness I sing about in my song “Small Beginnings” (see video at the top of this article). It’s the secret to my sustained optimism, resilience and non-violent activism.
So I’m in fundamental agreement with Bushman who tells the Guardian, “I’ve been studying aggression for about 30 years, and I’ve seen that the most harmful belief that a person can have is that they’re superior to others.”
Narcissists “fantasise about personal successes and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently,” he says in the article.
I’m concerned that the article does not make any connections between the murderous narcissists and others who abuse fellow human beings in less lethal (at least in the short-term) ways.
Why not mention the well-documented narcissism of media personalities like the BBC’s Jimmy Savile, Jeremy Clarkson and that attributed to the DJ Liz Kershaw by Russell Joslin.
What about the narcissism of Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice Chancelor of the University of the West Indies and others campaigning for reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery without regard for the extent to which some Africans were involved in it and benefited as traders?
Indeed, while by no means condoning violence by either blacks or whites I think it helpful to note that they are narcissists on both sides, pushing against each other like tectonic plates.
Joslin’s allegations of narcissistic bullying and intimidation by Kershaw, which some believe led him to commit suicide, are particularly instructive as, if proven, they could demonstrate the long-term, indirect or ripple effect of narcissistic violence.
The Kershaw-Joslin case could therefore provide a scenario for the study of the tremors of narcissism, not just the earthquakes that grab our attention.
This could in turn lead to the development of helpful, preventative strategies before race, gender, religious or other forms of cause-cloaked narcissistic violence escalates.
As some readers will know, I’m very keen to see the development of a more holistic framework for analysing gender-based violence, having suffered a significant amount of it at the hands of some Barbadian “girl gods” myself.
(To be continued…)