A terminology of narcissism belongs to ancient Greek methodology, where one of the young god handsome Narcissus felt in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. His self absorption leads him to self starvation and death. The term narcissism symbolises from then on an obsession with superficial appearance and denotes an excessive degree of self-indulgence – a condition that is usually a form of emotional immaturity.
In modern pop psychology narcissism takes on an unprecedented interest, and allows potential patients not only for self diagnosis but also abandonment of victimisation circles. In times of pseudo psychology, it sees that we missing out on important lessons of self care, self reflection and responsibility for our own development. Anything at any point can become toxic and we gain societal approval of leaving relationship for the sake of self-care.
Narcissist today are pronounced to be villain, a perpetrator and manipulator who thrives on making other people’s life miserable. He is believed to be non-transformational, emotionally unavailable, mischievous, grandiose, jealous, critical, superficial and practicing regularly a gas lightning (technique making you question yourself). To be frank, it sounds almost synonymous with previous trends in feminist psychology where our awareness about domestic violence had led us to be conscious of a smallest sign of abuse in our relationships. We perceived ourselves as victims, finally had a voice and resolved to new beginnings n our life, followed by divorce. Where physical, emotional or emotional abuse were involved, those were the only choices for a DV suffer, I agree.
However, therapeutic work with clients of Asian and African heritage proves that the case of difficult character is not categorical like in Eurocentric societies. It is not straight forward primarily because their cultural and religious believes do not allow them to divorce, reject, move out and move on so easily. Therapeutic work with such clients’ needs an aid of archetypes, role models close to their religious and spiritual believe systems. Diversity work needs to evolve around client’s resilience and connectivity to other sources of self-fulfilment, such as self-development, own spirituality or God. It is recommended to use monotheistic stories of the prophet Moses (Musa in Arabic) and present his methods of dealing of forefather of Narcissism – Fearon himself. His grandiosity led him to proclaim that he is a god , “O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see? (Quran: 43:51). His sadistic nature allowed him to commit one of the first mass murderer know to human history. Musa comes in Torah, Bible and Quran to teach us self-care and defensive techniques if it comes to dealing with narcists.
His prophethood is given to him on the Mount Sinai, and his reaction to it was sheer fear. What we can learn from his reaction is quite interesting. Musa asked for direct help from God in the ability to self-represent but also requested his own brother’s companionship. God instructed him to be gentle in speech, inspired him with eloquence, inner-resilience and granted prophethood to Aron (Harun in Arabic). “My Lord, put my heart at peace for me and make my task easy for me and remove the knot from my tongue, that they may understand my speech. [Quran: 20:25-28]. We learn that in case of dealing with narcists, not only do we need to be eloquent, conscious and kind in our speech mannerism, but also that we need support of others (siblings, friends, therapists).
Asiya, a Faro’s wife came also with an archetypal aid for those of us who feel we running out of resources in relationship with such strong characters. She knew that investing 90% of her energy in the emotionally unavailable spouse would be detrimental to her mental health. She chosen a step son (Musa) for an opportunity to explore motherhood as well as invested herself in the spiritual development – she become one of the first followers of the message of true religion. She realised that narcists are not changeable, therefore she changed herself and redirected own attention into self-love and decided to seek positivity from other sources than just her spouse.
Living with narcists, being brought up by one (or two), marring one or even becoming one are just a part of bigger plan for us. The religion-orientated clients tend to see their mental health becoming stronger through disassociating themselves from the romantic relationship inclination, and submitting themselves to God’s Destiny (Qadr in Arabic). The experience of this world should get us closer to the universal truth within our inner world as well as connect us to the source (God). People we meet in our lives are always bringing valuable lessons, which should in theory enable us to grow as a person, ease the understanding of higher values and ethics, challenge to embrace new moral characteristics or personality trades. For narcists this might be simply more difficult than for rest of us. Moreover, underneath their superficial facade what therapists will find is spiritual emptiness and low self-esteem. It seems that now adays we are to vindictive and forget about giving each other second chance, multitude of excuses and rely on defensives far too easily. ‘If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves’ [Hamdun al-Qassar].