How Narcissists Can Drive Polarization

How Narcissists Can Drive Polarization


Narcissists are well-known for being self-centered and conceited. However in addition they may be extraordinarily divisive. The DSM-5-TR lists “fantasies of limitless success, energy,” “interpersonally exploitative,” and “lack of empathy” as a few of the attainable elements for these with a narcissistic persona dysfunction.1 These traits can result in what psychological well being professionals name “splitting.” This happens when an individual sees others as all-bad or all-good, or as very superior or very inferior, or as winners or losers, with no grey areas in between.


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The impression of this splitting may be contagious in order that others close to the narcissist could begin seeing the world this fashion as properly, and an entire group could change into polarized inside itself.

Polarization in households

This will happen particularly throughout and after a separation or divorce. A narcissistic mum or dad could inform the kids that the opposite mum or dad is silly or a loser or that the divorce is all the opposite mum or dad’s fault. Over time, kids soak up such adverse feedback and begin utilizing them as their very own: “Dad says you’re a loser,” or “Mother says that you simply’ll by no means quantity to a lot.” Then the kids begin resisting or refusing contact with the “loser” mum or dad. In such circumstances, the household typically leads to court docket with kin, buddies, and professionals taking one aspect or the opposite in what some name tribal warfare.

One aspect could say that the kid resists contact with one mum or dad as a result of the “rejected” mum or dad should have been abusive or inappropriate with the kid. The others defend the rejected mum or dad, saying that the “favored” mum or dad should have been bad-mouthing the rejected mum or dad in entrance of the kids.

As mediators, evaluators, and judges attempt to determine this out, the extent of anger and frustration will increase amongst all concerned. It turns into an excellent emotional polarization known as parental alienation. But it’s typically pushed primarily by one mum or dad with all-or-nothing pondering, unmanaged feelings, and an conceited sense of superiority. That is typically a narcissistic mum or dad, though there are different potentialities in some circumstances. (Dad and mom with borderline personalities can also interact in splitting.) The kid often adopts the all-or-nothing pondering and unmanaged feelings of 1 mum or dad and turns into increasingly excessive of their resistance or refusal to have any contact in any respect with the opposite mum or dad. This may increasingly even embrace aunts and uncles and grandparents within the bigger household polarization.

Polarization within the office

Within the office, a narcissist could repeatedly disparage and even bully one employee and reward others, which is usually known as mobbing or group bullying. Ultimately, the group could change into cut up between those that imagine and favor the bully and those that imagine and defend the goal of the bullying. Normally, that is led by a narcissist, who enjoys disparaging somebody who they deem a loser whereas claiming to be fairly superior compared.

A narcissist will typically actively recruit others to agree with him and take his aspect. Since that is primarily an emotional course of, both sides could begin to really feel intense dislike or resentment towards the opposite aspect because the group turns into intensely “cut up” and more and more dysfunctional.

Polarization in well being care

An instance of how polarizing such an individual could also be is called “employees splitting” in well being care settings, reminiscent of hospitals, the place there’s a crew working with every affected person, together with a health care provider, nurses, social staff, and others. A affected person could inform one crew member that they’re excellent at their job however that one other crew member is incompetent or unhelpful. This will result in crew members viewing one another in equally constructive or adverse methods and finally resenting one another as they soak up the winner-loser cut up of the narcissistic affected person. In fact, such groups typically work exhausting to not let such splitting occur, particularly if they’re conscious of the potential impression of a persona-disordered affected person on the unit.

Polarization in politics

This has change into an growing concern over the previous decade or so, as individuals in lots of nations have seen their leaders and political events change into emotionally polarized. It’s vital to know that that is an emotional course of, greater than a rational, regular product of disagreements over insurance policies. For many years, opposing politicians have been in a position to disagree and but negotiate compromises on a full vary of points. Extra lately, with the assistance of cable information and social media, variations are heightened, and people politicians with extra narcissistic tendencies seem to have grabbed the highlight and chased away the extra reasonable, versatile politicians.

It must be understood that in some ways, immediately’s polarization is just not over points however over personalities—typically narcissistic personalities who don’t appear to care in regards to the impression of their phrases and habits on others. In any case, of their drives to realize “limitless energy,” they be at liberty to be “interpersonally exploitative,” and their “lack of empathy” permits them to behave in such a way.

Whereas many individuals imagine that social media has made us extra aggressive and hostile politically, current analysis means that it truly is a small subset of individuals driving this polarization. “As a substitute, hostile political discussions are the results of status-driven people who’re drawn to politics and are equally hostile each on-line and offline. Lastly, we provide preliminary proof that on-line discussions really feel extra hostile, partly, as a result of the habits of such people is extra seen on-line than offline.”2

What’s to be executed?

By recognizing these patterns of habits, we could also be extra in a position to tune out those that would polarize us for their very own narcissistic functions. Talking respectfully one-to-one appears to be rather more efficient as a solution to overcome polarization fairly than listening to and believing what aggressive personalities are telling us about others, our so-called enemies. So typically, the “situation” is just not the difficulty; the persona is the difficulty.


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