This is the second chapter regarding Narcissism aka the Hasnamuss type of Gurdjieff. I am using the term "Covert Narcissist" (CN) for this type, because this more easily distinguishes the CN from other uses of words that do not adequately differentiate the basis idea from other uses of the same word. I would use "Hasnamuss", because G used the word much more precisely, but I prefer to use "Covert Narcissist" because G concentrated much more on the Political, Religious, and Economic ones who were big players in planetary history. I wish to concentrate on the "Petty Tyrant" ones that Castaneda wrote about and who may have derived the teachings from "Don Juan" (who may or may not be a real person or who may be a fictional composite of various teachers that Castaneda studied with at various times in his life).
Following G's lead, I wish to remain very practical and to have people become sensitized to this "archetype" for various reasons, mainly to make human life easier, less stressful, and safer to live. As one evolves spiritually, one tends to become prosperous, happy, and more aware. The very success of what one will has done will make one more attractive to CNs, who will want to "get" whatever it is that is making one thrive. CNs are predatory, covert, and disguised as something else. They learned to survive their childhood by evolving their "strategy" and got relatively good at this. The habit formations or tendencies that predispose them to form this strategy are probably more than one lifetime old. When faced with challenges, they will tend to default to this strategy as a "natural" inclination. I put natural in quotes, because it is not natural for Buddha Nature to behave this way, since BN only knows how to lovingly accept everything as it is, be creatively skillful, and flow with intuitive wisdom. BN will never violate conscience or move out of integrity with itself, once deeply realized.
Because CN is an archetype, it is not the same kind of typing as in other systems. There are people who embody this archetype more or less perfectly, while other people only embody some of its traits. There is also a part of everyone who is like this archetype. It is ultimately an inner pattern deeply related to the nature of the conventional ego. In this sense, it corresponds somewhat to the shadow side of ourselves, our hidden blind spot that prevents us from fully and easily growing on the path, our dominant negative trait and its defenses from being fully acknowledged and released (which G called our "chief feature" which in turn fed our "false personality" which in turn our conventional ego personality is built around. What this means is that individuals who embody this archetype will be hard for us to see and believe. We will be fooled by them until we are sensitized to their traits and also how they hook into the parts of ourselves that we are unconscious of and give these people the power to influence us.
The CN is well defended against change. So much so that Ramani warns people to not try to change them, but to get out from their grip on our lives. Zheung is more helpful, since she is aware of the necessity to have some interaction with them, since there are many situations where it is almost impossible to avoid them. When people figure out that someone is a CN, they often make the mistake of confronting them with what they are doing. This alerts the CN that you know and they will punish you for learning what you did. When this happens, they might do what is called "gas lighting" (which is in reference to a movie where a person convinces another person to not believe in their own experience by undermining a person's "basic trust" in themselves and what they feel is true, something we need in order to fully live our lives and become life effective good people). The dual self system of the CN will have the mask part present someone who is "objective, considerate, and open minded" (but has sensitive feelings that one hurt in them because one lacked empathy), while the core self is actively undermining one, systematically invalidating various points, making one question and doubt oneself too much, attacking what one cherishes about oneself the most, imputing bad motives that one does not have, pretending that they know better and see through one, being an authority that can interpret one better than one can, putting one down with a critical tone, misinterpreting and twisting words that one says to make what one says appear ugly and horrible, and then often saying bald bad statements and false stories of things that one does not "remember" doing (because they never happened) and even imputing that one conveniently forgot about these fictitious events because one's ego and that because one is the real narcissist. They "flip it" back on one and can be so persuasive and convincing by the sheer force of their angry emotion from their core (which the mask self may deny that they have even when they are shouting and raging at one).
The details of this CV pattern is something that G did not go into within any depth in his writings, not in the depth that I feel is necessary to get a full handle on the CN and become sensitized to their presence and how to neutralize their affect on one and one's friends. G wanted to figure out this pattern for oneself and did form groups that would discuss the writings that went into this. One does need to study this pattern both intellectually and then through experience and observation. Even having this writing is not enough by itself.
There is also a need to do a parallel self study and notice how the person is affecting one, how the person is hooking into one, how the person is probing one for information, how one unwittingly gives them the information they want to undermine us by how free we are with our stories of our past, and our stories of our weaknesses, strengths, our triumphs and failures, and our hopes and fears. All this will be used against one at the right time. They will test to see what information brings up one's fears, worries, and doubts, and can use these to threaten one, undermine one, or attack one. Meanwhile, the CN will speak in generalities and present a fictitious mask to hide behind, and make up a story with a lot of detail which is a substitute for honest sharing. They may change their name as a way of hiding their past. They might travel from place to place when they are found out by the locals, and only return when people have forgotten what they did or emotionally moved on. They may make an insincere apology to make people believe they have changed, and hook into our willingness to "forgive and forget" (the Sufis recommend to "forgive and remember" instead, so we do not fall for the same trick twice).
For a loose set of character traits to understand the CN, there are 9 basic traits (G had 7 mentioned in his writings, I am expanding on them):
(1) being critical, skeptical, and invalidating. They will be believe one's innocence and suspect that one is hiding the real fault or defending it.
(2) giving to get, love bombing (in the beginning), putting pressure on one to believe that they are "too good to be true", presenting oneself as an expert or already successful. They want to give a very good "first impression" so that when they undermine one, have bursts of temper, and hurt one, then one will try to get their real self back or try to recover the former self that one might confuse with their real self.
(3) competitive, trying to up one, trying to be the knowing authority, seducing one with some deal that makes them get what they want from one, bait and switch, and doing some kind of marketing push to have one "buy" something. They feel entitled to success and do not believe that they have to work to succeed, unless their "story" pretend that they believe in hard work.
(4) making up story, generating emotional drama, playing victim to make people feel guilty, giving a sob story to get empathy. This may contradict their story about how great they are, but if this is pointed out then they will say it is because people do not see their natural greatness and do not let them succeed.
(5) flat affect or overt over acting an emotion to see if you buy it, unless it is anger. They disconnect from how they feel. They might use some drug to further disconnect from how they feel. They will not be empathic to how others feel. If one is emotional, then it is always a problem one has. One is labeled as "childish" or emotionally out of control. If one is suffering, it is because one is neurotic. They are the sane ones and they are emotionally in control. This may contradict their own emotional dramas, but when this is pointed out, they deserve to feel their emotions and it is one's fault for how they feel.
(6) paranoid scanning and probing. This takes the place of real empathy. They are constantly checking how one reacts to see what they can get away with. They are forming a chart of one's weaknesses and faults to know what will sting and hurt one. If they make a wrong assumption about what hurts one, they will remember this and try something else. Putting others on the defensive and making them squirm makes them feel safer.
(7) playing dodge ball and hit and run, forming a moving target and never letting oneself get pinned down. They will twist words that one says while never getting pinned down on what they mean. They will counter attack and make it about one, rather than acknowledge their contradictions. They will minimize any faults that they have or blame some illness, limitation or handicap that makes them how they are, and accuse one of being empathic to their faults or understanding. Meanwhile they will magnify one's faults and make them so big that one looks horrible in their story and deserves to be punished or feel ashamed that such a glaring fault is allowed to run amok in society.
(8) always needing to be in control, trying to dominate, commanding others and bossing them around, denying any fault or even denying what is obvious, like shouting that one is not shouting, deliberately misrepresenting and exaggerating to get more effect, saying "you always" and "you never", and making any small issue into a really big one until one backs down and lets them get away with "death by a thousand little cuts". Enjoying one's suffering because it makes them feel better than one is. Dominating through intimidating outbursts. Conditioning people to walk on eggshells and make them docile, obedient, and compliant, accusing one of being insensitive, not empathic, angry, and cruel if one does not. Threatening to tell others or make one look bad, or make up hurtful lies if one does not obey or back down. Hammering down until one caves in. Making sure that asserting oneself is going to cost one. Either/or black and white thinking. They are always right and one is always wrong. One is always unfair if one asserts oneself and they are always right in pushing for what they think they need. Targeting one person while leaving others relatively alone or compartmentalizing relations so that no one knows what is happening in other places. Pretending in public that they are innocent while making one look crazy.
(9) pretending, passive aggressive, not following through on any agreements, saying one thing to get one off their back and doing the opposite of what they said that they would do, changing the rules, never intending to really commit to anything, but agreeing in order to hold the other person to what they committed to. They can seem very understanding at this point and everything may even seem resolved, but nothing is resolved.
Some people may have a few of these traits, yet a CN will cycle through these stances in a kind of strange dance with one, and lock into the one's that are "working" in the moment. In a way, they are their own shadow side, since they have two selves, one hiding behind the other. In this sense, this type is strangely a little more aware than others, but only within a limited frame of reference. They are always struggling in survival mode. They are always trying to gain the advantage, even when normal others are not perceiving any need to struggle at all. There is a demonic element in this that is usually related to some betrayal or wound that haunts their past. One can feel this icky, nightmarish, and hostile energy exuded from them at times. There is an event called the "unmasking" when one sees this. It wakes one up from a peaceful complacency into what G called "the terror of the situation". It is like suddenly noticing an angry dog showing its fangs and not seeming very rational or sane, and looks like it could bite one at any time. One will get nervous and instinctively anxious (our instincts usually do not get fooled by CNs, but may not know how to tell one what is happening). It will feel like trauma to feel this, but it is a natural reaction. How one processes this will determine how one awakens to a higher and more peaceful life on Earth, how one makes sense of everything. One looks at all this square in the eye and grows up and goes beyond this.
I plan to write more about this in the next chapter.