Narcissists are some of the most distrusted and reviled people walking among us. The distaste that most people have for them is analogous to that of people suffering from sociopathy. Many people snarl at the mere thought of getting involved with a narcissist in any sort of close relationship, whether it be a work-relationship or a romantic one.
Arrogance, hyper confidence, excessive pride, and a condescending and manipulative demeanor is enough to make anyone want to run in the other direction as quickly as they can. If you know a narcissist yourself, then you are all too familiar with how painful it can be to spend any length of time around such a person as it can truly be exhausting and emotionally draining.
The bully tactics that many narcissists deploy are but desperate attempts to try and repair their own very damaged emotional lives, including their extremely low self-esteem and their feelings of worthlessness. This makes sense when we see how desperate narcissists are to remind us ad nauseam of how nice their house is, how much money they have, or how many things they’ve accomplished.
Personality disorders can be quite difficult to treat. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that narcissistic personality disorder is one of the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, as well as one of the least diagnosed. This is because people who are truly narcissists would under no circumstance allow themselves to appear “weak” or vulnerable enough to accept help from someone else.
A narcissist seeking out a therapist to help them with their low self-esteem and self-loathing based on their own volition is antithetical to their personality. In reality, what would actually be expected to occur would be the narcissist engaging in a slew of defense mechanisms to try and repress their painful self-hatred or lack of confidence, all while going out of their way to appear as strong, stable, and prosperous as possible to any onlookers around them.
Are Narcissists Inherently Immoral?
The consensus among a vast amount of individuals is that narcissists are “bad people.” Although what a narcissist may do or say to someone else can easily be deemed reprehensible or at least hurtful, these people are not inherently immoral. Although this may seem antithetical to the truth, when we explore deeper, we can better understand how and why this is so.
It’s much easier for someone to sympathize with a depressed person than a narcissistic person. I get that, but the reality is that in both cases, neither person wished to develop either of those conditions, nor did they have any say in how severe their specific symptoms would be. In both cases, the depressed person and the narcissist are both unlucky victims of biology.
Someone with narcissistic personality disorder is but a victim of their own genetics and their environment.
It is easy to look at the surface of a narcissist and see nothing more than a condescending, arrogant, self-obsessed attention whore. However, when we pay closer attention to not only why they feel this way, but also how they feel this way, then they appear to be less of an immoral monster and more of just a regular person who was dealt a bad hand in life.
Such a realization will likely not sit well with people who have been emotionally robbed or abused by a narcissist. Although such behaviors are clearly immoral as they bring forth unwanted pain and misery in others, this doesn’t mean that the author of that abuse is somehow inherently immoral as there are surely many moral acts with which they have also engaged in in their lives, regardless of how miniscule they may be.
You can’t be inherently immoral and also perform moral acts. Such a conundrum cannot exist. The mere generalization that any one particular person is inherently immoral makes no sense to me for this reason. Although, what really brings it home is when we realize that they did not choose their fate. They did not wake up one day and decide to become a narcissist. They have developed the narcissistic personality traits that they have without their consent.
The development of their lifelong condition, their condescending behaviors, as well as the mental anguish with which they suffer are phenomena that were not authored by them, but is instead the direct result of their genetic predisposition and childhood experiences. Although it may be challenging to consider, people with narcissistic personality disorder suffer a great deal internally to a far greater extent than they would ever let you be aware of.
Sympathizing with a narcissist is not analogous to approving of their behaviors as the next section will articulate.
Are Narcissists’ Behaviors Immoral?
While it does not make sense to chastise the narcissist for nothing more than the crime of being a victim of his own genetics, it does make sense to deem many of his behaviors as being immoral. There is no question that there are many things with which a narcissist can say or do that is immoral, such as viciously insulting others for the sole purpose of improving their own self-worth.
For example, a narcissist who manipulates his wife by ensuring that she ostracizes her family so she only “needs” him is an immoral exercise. A narcissist who constantly berates his children with insults to make himself feel better is immoral. A narcissist who forges the signatures of his loved ones on checks to borrow money from them is immoral. The examples of immoral behaviors that we would expect a narcissist to engage in can go on and on ad infinitum.
To admit that a narcissist is not inherently immoral does not leave you unable to condemn their behaviors. Although they are ultimately not the true author of their behaviors as they have generations upon generations of bad genetics in their family history, as well as possibly experiencing some sort of childhood abuse which led to their narcissistic personality in the first place, many of the behaviors themselves can be overtly seen as being immoral. However, as far as deeming a narcissist as being immoral, it simply doesn’t make sense to do so.
Thomas is the founder and CEO of PsychTimes.com. He deeply enjoys writing about psychology, mental health, well-being, and ethics. Besides writing, he’s also deeply interested in the many different aspects of digital marketing, specifically search engine optimization. It is due to his love of both psychology and digital marketing, as well as his deep desire to help people who are suffering from mental illness which has inspired him to create this very site.