Recently, I have read a small Urdu book named “Tehzebi Nargasiat” which stands for “Civilizational Narcissism”. The booklet is written by Mubarak Haider who has composed a unique idea into a small scholarly booklet. Although, the author is known for his orientation to the Socialist Left but this book is a marvelous masterpiece of unbiased psychoanalysis.
This article aims to add more information for the readers on the subject. We will also draw the attention of the author and the readers to a few important points of the above-mentioned book which need revision.
What is Narcissism?
As mentioned by the author, “Narcissism” refers to egotism, selfishness and self-centeredness of a person. It is simply lack of consideration of others. It is a personality disorder.
The name “narcissism” is derived from the Greek mythology. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who had never seen his reflection, but because of a prediction by an Oracle, looked in a pool of water and saw his reflection for the first time. He felt into love of his reflection. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away at the pool and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.
Every person is a narcissist up to some extent but when this self-love crosses the line of reasonableness and becomes out of proportion, he/she becomes mentally sick. An egocentric person is infatuated and obsessed by his/her own personality that he/she ignores everyone else.
Symptoms of Narcissism
Some symptoms of narcissism are as follows:
- A narcissist feels grandiose and self-important. He exaggerates his achievements and talents to the point of lying. He also demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements.
- He is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance, bodily beauty, sexual performance or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.
- The egoist is firmly convinced that he is unique and, being special, can only be understood by and associated with, other special or unique, or high-status people. He requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation.
- He feels himself entitled to unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment. He demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations. He cracks the whip to make sure that others are at his beck and call.
- Narcissists are “interpersonally exploitative”. They use others to achieve their own ends. They are devoid of empathy. They are unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others. Due to this reason, they are more interested in speaking rather than listening. They are happy to hear their admiration only. They may have an iron fist in a velvet glove.
- A self-centered person is constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him. He laughs up his sleeves on other’s weaknesses.
- He is as arrogant as a peacock. He expresses haughty behaviors or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted. (Point No. 1 to 7 are adapted from: http://www.healtyplace.com)
- Criticizing him is like a red flag to a bull. He hits back like a bear with sorehead and foams at the mouth. If he is unable to blow his top, he goes into pieces and starts groaning inwardly.
- When the attention of a common man is drawn towards some of his mistake, he acknowledges it. On the contrary, the narcissist feels it important to lash the criticizer out. He transfers the responsibility of his own mistakes to others. Even if he accepts some of his mistake, he does so for the sake of admiration to be an altruist.
- Narcissists never acknowledge that they are egocentric. If someone draws their attention to it, they reject the facts and attack on the reliability of the appraiser by picking holes in his personality.
- Refined narcissists portray themselves in a presentable and tasteful manner while unpolished ones often make an ass of themselves.
- They make rules for others but are not interested in following such rules.
- The egoist is an extremely manipulative boss or a mentally-bruised flattering servant.
Narcissism is not limited to individuals. Groups, tribes, societies and nations are often victimized by it in different stages of their life cycle. It happens when they start feeling proud of themselves beyond the normal limits. Although, individuals in that society may be normal in their personal capacity but they may be narcissists at collective level.
Are the Contemporary Muslims Narcissists?
The author has performed psychoanalysis of the Muslims of present-day in the light of above-mentioned attributes to determine whether they are victims of narcissism.
I find no other choice except to admit that large numbers of our people are swindled by enormous amount of self-pride and self-love. This is not limited to our egocentric attitude to the people of other religions but we are so swellheaded in even sectarian issues. We look at the people of other sects with disdain. I disagree with the author on the point that all the Muslims are narcissists. There is a significant number of Muslims who are normal.
The author has focused his work to the modern-day wars among Muslims and others. In my opinion, the scope of this work should be extended from wars to all of our interactions with the people of other religions. We should also take into account the relations of the sects within Muslims. Let us analyze our behavior in light of above mentioned personality traits.