Sunday, July 9, 2023

The Narcissist Archetype (part two)

 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.

The Narcissist Archetype

I wanted to share some information regarding a certain type of individual who is the outer cause of a lot of suffering in the world.  The name for such an individual is a "Narcissist".  This type has also been previous called "the Psychopath", "the Sociopath", and "the Hasnamuss".  The term "Narcissist", as well as the other terms, with the exception of the term "Hasnamuss" (from Gurdjieff), needs to first be clarified, as the terms are not used consistently in literature and in several models of psychotherapy and spirituality.

For instance, in the literature of Greek mythology, the character of Narcissus is a person who falls in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.  This became the archetype for the idea of a Narcissist and became linked with any person who is preoccupied with themselves to the point where they are not aware of others except as "echoes" (in the Greek story, Echo is a being who falls in love with Narcissus and ends up only being an Echo of him) of themselves.  In other words, they project their unconscious contents on other people and do not really see other people as they truly are.

Later on, Freud wrote about "primary narcissism" where children tend to naturally be preoccupied with themselves and their own needs, and only later on in life begin to experience other people as different from themselves and as distinct individuals.

The terms "Psychopath" and "Sociopath" came later on and referred to a person who does not socialize the way normal people do and is only concerned with their own fulfillment and does not care about the feeling of others, and is even willing to exploit people and even kill them if they get in their way.  They do not feel a need to play by the rules of society, do not need to be polite, kind, and considerate of others, but will often pretend to be so that they can prey on others to get what they want from them.  The term from Christianity "wolves in sheep's clothing" comes from this kind of awareness, with sheep being the docile members of society who are willing to follow ordinary social rules, be a basically good responsible human being, and fulfill one's religious and social duties, and treat their neighbor the way that they want to be treated.  The wolf in sheep's clothing is a person who disguises themselves to fit into society, but who preys on the ordinary "sheep" that normal people are.

This "wolf" type sometimes calls normal people "sheeple", implying that they are blind followers of a dogmatic religion.  Whether or not this label is appropriate of the nature of the religion, most normal people have a kind of conventional religion and believe in being good people, taking care of family and friends, and have some sense of responsibility to what they understand as "God" or a "Higher Power".  This conventional level of spirituality is important and does help people to get along with each other.  This conventional level of spirituality is what Gurdjieff would say is the "Exoteric Circle" of humankind.  When one goes deeper and understands spirituality psychologically, then one becomes a member of the Mesoteric Circle.  When one awakens directly to an awareness of the spiritual dimension of life, one then becomes a member of the Esoteric Circle of humanity.

This wolf in sheep's clothing type of person is more in alignment with how the terms Psychopath, Sociopath, Narcissist, and Hasnamuss is used.  The first two terms are often used for certain types of criminals and does not fully fit the archetype that I am choosing to write about here.  It would be, however, possible to say that all Psychopaths and Sociopaths are Narcissists, but not the other way around.

The term "Hasnamuss" is actually more precise than the term "Narcissist" with Gurdjieff mentioning for different kinds of Hasnamuss individuals.  The Hasnamuss type, too, is mentioned along with a typing system that includes the Good Householder, the Lunatic (Fanatic), and the Tramp (a Dysfunctional Being who is not able to live in society and hold down an ordinary job, or master certain basic responsibilities).  This typing system is not the only system of types of people that Gurdjieff taught about.  This particular one was related to which people could be "candidates" for spiritual work in the "Fourth Way", the path that Gurdjieff taught people was possible to grow within.  This path is the path through "consciousness" and involves centering in consciousness and developing your mental, emotional, and physical sides of your being simultaneously, rather than one at a time.  This would be different from the path of a philosopher who just develops his mind, a devotee of Bhakti Yoga or Christian Contemplative Prayer who just develops emotionally and, hopefully, through love, and a Hatha Yogi or Tai Chi practitioner who just develops physically.

According to this system of typing, only the Good Householder has a real chance to develop themselves in the Fourth Way.  It is because they have already become "life effective".  They know how to be conventionally responsible, hold down a job, and how to be in a mature loving relationship with a married partner.  In Freud's terms, they know how "to love and to work" (this is what Freud said the goal of psychotherapy, to produce what may be called a Good Householder in G's terms).

The reason why G gave the teaching of these four types is because he did not want people to waste too much of their time on three types that were not already Good Householders.  A Lunatic or Fanatic has "false values" that are strongly fixated in them and very hard to change, and this type does not want to change them, but instead to convert you to their religious or political cult.  They are false, because following what they are fanatical about will make you less life effective.  A fanatical religion or political party will make people less able to function as normal, law abiding, and peaceful citizens.  The normal citizen or Good Householder is the basic unit of a healthy and functioning society.  The crystallization of these false and extreme values prevents them from being able to "do the Work".

The Lunatic or Fanatic does have a theoretical chance to grow along the lines of the Fourth Way or any advanced model of human spiritual growth, and sometimes a skillful therapist who organizes a healing group within some program can gradually help these people become functional and even mature citizens.  But it takes a lot of energy to do so and most Good Householders who find and commitment to a Higher Growth Path cannot afford the time and energy to help these people.  They often need all their energy to help each other within the Higher Growth Groups, both spiritually and economically.  G was a very practical down to Earth teacher who wanted people to use their time wisely on what was possible, and to avoid what was practically impossible.

The Tramp type does not have any values.  They have a certain kind of laziness that does not want to be responsible.  They find fulfilling the requirements of ordinary life, holding a job, and learning to keep one's agreements with their married partner, learning how to talk with a person, understand them, resolve issues with them, and function within a committed relationship (again, Freud's "to love and to work") to be a chore that they do not want to do.  They do not like to be told what to do.  They do not want to "pull their own weight".  They do not care if their lack of self responsibility makes them a burden on others.  They are happy to be taken care of and taken into a household, but when they do so they do not do the "little things" that make a household work, like doing their share of the chores, even when they are fully capable of this.

When G said that the Tramp has "no values", the Tramp will probably say that they do.  Everyone values something.  Tramps value no one making them do anything and resist nearly all chores.  A mental set of "values" that one thinks that one believes that one has is not what G is saying that they do not have.  For something to be a "real value", it has to energize you to act.  If you value kindness, then you will immediately move into action when someone drops their groceries in the parking lot outside the grocery store and help the person.  If you value a craft, you do the craft well even if you do not get paid for it.  A real value is part of you and will motivate you to do things naturally.  Thus a Good Householder wants to have a job, take care of their own needs and the needs of others, especially their family and their friends.  Even if there is a part of themselves that is like the Tramp, a part of themselves that resists getting up in the morning and going to work, they will do so anyway, because they value the job and getting paid well for good work.  It allows them to truly love and care for the people that they care about.

There are also some forms of clinical mental illness where a person ends up having no values and become like a "vegetable".  These people are relegated into wards where they are given their basic physical needs.  Sometimes these people get healed enough so that they make some strides to become Good Householders or High Functioning People who are able to live in the world as Good Householders.  Sometimes a good therapist working under the right conditions and with a good program can transform a number of these types into functioning adults and good citizens.  But again, it takes a lot of time and energy that GH's within the 4th Way or some other growth system do not usually have.  G's advice is to let them go and let them find their own way.  Sometimes the suffering involved in trying to survive in modern life does make a few of them rise up to becoming a responsible adult.

This leads to the Hasnamuss type who is different than the Good Householder, the Fanatic, and the Tramp.  What makes this type different is that this type is predatory.  This type actively targets Good Householders to exploit them, to at least take away their hard earned money that they need to pay their bills, take care of their family and friends, and keep their life on track.  This type is more intelligent than the Fanatic and Tramp.  They do not target these types, though some of the criminal Hasnamuss types will enlist the Fanatics and use them to do their bidding.  In a similar way, they can sometimes exploit the Tramp by threatening them, punishing them, and forcing them to do things.  The Hasnamuss type does not have a "conscience", which to G was a sacred organ that when activated can guide use to fully develop ourselves into a mature and balanced individual who lives from their mind, heart, and body in a living functional unity.

There are different sub-types of this Hasnamuss type.  One is called the "covert narcissist" which I am going to concentrate this writeup upon.  The other sub-types, like the Grandiose Narcissist, are more overt and more obvious.  My feeling is that these subtypes will be rarer as human history unfolds and societies learn to purge themselves of these sub-types.  At present, they can only really be found in "niches of power" in the corporate world (as CEOs and despotic managers, or in any entrenched position of power), the religious world (as leaders who generally do not mind commanding people into a holy war or the killing of "unbelievers"), or the political world (who can be tyrants and poison their rivals).  In general, even these more obvious sub-types are still "covert" in the sense that they are pretending to be someone they are not.  They may present themselves as some kind of savior, hero, and reformer who is willing to "do what it takes" and make "the hard choices" that is needed to make life on Earth work.  Where you can identify this type is that they like the feeling of having people get tortured by them or even killed by them, and it gives them a feeling of power to have these things done to people by them or by people who are under their power.

The first trait of this type is that they have "two selves".  One is the presenting self that is their mask or disguise.  The other is their "core self" which has their "real feelings" (though in higher teachings, everyone has Buddha Nature, and their "core" is ultimately not real either).  The core self is like the ordinary self of the Good Householder and is as real as the ordinary self of the Good Householder.  This mask is necessary to prey upon Good Householder, who they pretend to be like.  They do not hold the values of the Good Householder at all, but will pretend to.

In order to maintain the mask, the Covert Narcissist (CN) will lie.  What many researchers have found is that this lying is different from the lying that Good Householders sometimes lapse into.  Good Householders have some capacity to self correct.  When they recognize they have lied, they regret it, self correct, and return back to their integrity.  There are also pressures that tempt a Good Householder to lie, like lying on an application to get a job that they feel that they need to get food on the table to feed their children and pay their bills.  In other words, the lying arises from a conflict of values that is always energizing the Good Householder to act.  When they get less confused about the value conflict, they will self correct and clarify the confusion, and become even more solid citizens of whatever society they are in.

The CN will lie as part of their way of functioning.  They may seem to tell the truth in that their mask self must present a story close enough to social truth to be believable to the Good Householders around them.  They will look and see if you are "buying their story" and they will make up a cover story for what they are doing from their core which is sizing people up to see if they are exploitable.  The lying is often "gratuitous" in that the lie often seems completely unnecessary.  It is "unnecessary" in the sense that a Good Householder, when under certain pressure and certain temptation can understand why it might be tempting to lie, will feel it is unnecessary.  In other words, GHs, when trying to understand others, will refer to their own bank of experiences and try to make sense of why a person might lie and want to lie, and will not find any reason which makes the CN lying even remotely necessary.  This is often the initial lies of the CN fall below the radar of a GH and are believed because they automatically believe the mask self is who the CN really is.

The lies of CN are not consistent.  The pressure of the two selves makes it almost impossible to be consistent.  GHs will find the contradictions confusing and when they point out the confusion, the CN will DARVO the GH.  They will Deny, Attack the GH, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender.  They will plead Victim and try to make the GH feel guilty and can very often get the GH to apologize, with the GH often confused about he or she has done wrong.

The goal of the lying is "power over" the GH so that they can control and manipulate him or her.  The goal of power over is to secure "narcissistic supply", which can be as tangible as getting money or getting praise, or as weird as "getting negative attention in terms of people getting upset or worried around them when they feel they are "under the thumb" of a CN.  Because a CN does not have an internal feeling of self worth in their core, they rely on getting this from the outside, by feeling superior to others by being the one in control and dominant, or by getting people to believe their mask and getting praise for what they present.  They like to feel people squirm under their grip, because it validates that they are superior and they are the ones who are really in control.  If they feel that they can kill a person and get away with it, then they must be superior to the people that they can kill.

I want to go deeper into the CN in a later writeup and this one is only an introduction.  The Hasnamuss is mentioned by G in the context of the three other types, because they, too, do not have a realistic chance to really use the Work to evolve themselves into a Higher Mature Being.  Theoretically, everyone does, including the CN.  But it takes a lot of time and energy, and G also felt that the ordinary suffering of normal life can help break down the crystallized attitudes of the CN, the Tramp, and the Fanatic, but that it takes more suffering than usual for this to happen and it takes a very special kind of help to also be present as well.  This is way beyond the capacity of the usual GHs that are involved in the Work.

What makes the CN more dangerous is that the other types are not pretending to be other than what they are.  Most Fanatics know that they are Fanatics, they just believe that they are Fanatics for the Right Cause and everyone else is wrong.  They have the wrongly formed values that they are fixated on and this fixation takes a lot of energy to break down.  It takes a lot of suffering under the right conditions to break free of this fixation.

In a similar way, the Tramp can suffer in such a way that they come to a place where they must "value their life" and "step up" to take care of themselves.  This value, being energized inside themselves, can become a nucleus to develop the "pearl of enlightenment" around.

But the CN can form a mask and present themselves as a GH or even an advanced individual in the Work.  They are good enough liars to fool people and know how to punish and banish people who figure out their lie.  They are, in short, dangerous to the Work and actively like hunting people in the Work as a kind of food that they can feed off of.  Therefore groups need to learn how to filter out this type in order to "make progress in the Work".  They also need to filter out this type from their life, because they are not merely harmful for people in the Work, but can even destroy an entire society or cause one country to invade another country, or to wipe out people of another race or religion.  They know how to condition people to a kind of hatred and anger, and how to direct this anger in others to hurt other people.

To be able to filter out these people, it is important to understand this type very thoroughly so that one can see through the mask.  And when the person is "unmasked", they will attack your awareness until you do not see what you saw or impair you so that no one will believe you.  There is something demonic about this type and sometimes these people are "possessed entities" or "oppressed by entities" or may even be an entity itself who has found its way into a human birth.