A soul is not some metaphysical thing we all have and keep after we’re dead. Some people are more soulful than others, and you can see this from the outside and feel it from the inside.
Narcissists are rather soul-less. They have intimacy avoidance issues, little respect for others or themselves, and chose face over truth every time. The self-respect they have is false esteem. A good read on the subject is here.
“Equating confident people with narcissistic people is like equating happy and manic and then saying, ‘Well, maybe happiness isn’t such a good thing after all.’”
To find out how narcissists really feel about themselves, Rosenthal used a computer test based on the Implicit Association Test codeveloped by Mahzarin Banaji, Cabot professor of social ethics in the department of psychology and Pforzheimer professor at Radcliffe (see “Stealthy Attitudes,” July-August 2002, page 18). First, the test asks subjects to associate themselves with positive qualities and dissociate themselves from bad qualities, and measures how quickly the subjects press computer keys to indicate those associations. Then the instructions are reversed (bad qualities are to be marked “me” and good qualities “not me”) and response time is measured again. Those subjects quicker to assign positive qualities to themselves have high self-esteem; those quicker to assign themselves negative qualities have low self-esteem. Despite the sky-high self-regard narcissists project, Rosenthal found their implicit self-esteem was low.
During a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government, he has found that members of informal groups with no designated leader are likely to name the narcissist among them as a leader—but only at first. “Those are the people who show off the most, make the most noise, have the most ideas, or at least are most likely to keep throwing them out there,” Rosenthal says. “It does seem that, early on, people are attracted to the chest-thumping and showing off. But as the narcissism starts to show through, people start to get sick of that person.”
As narcissists tend to have intimacy avoidance issues (and are therefore less happy and I would argue less human), appearing to at first be full of valid esteem works for their short term mating strategies.
We can easily look around the manosphere and see people who identify with narcissism, and who actually go so far as to PROMOTE narcissism.
Some of the poor parenting that can lead to narcissism can also lead to an inability to form healthy human attachments. Both conditions are related to less happiness.
So, if you want to be as happy as possible, and if you have attachment issues and score high on the narcissist scale, the scientific news is that you’ll have to work hard on yourself over the course of many years to develop new mental habits. To become a new person.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with doing practices that integrate my creativity with regular awareness. One payoff is that when I close my eyes the vision-producing part of my brain speaks to me in images. I see pictures. These are welcomed. Another development is a growing integration of my fingers into the piano. Music comes out of it, much like words come out onto this blog when I type. Creativity is being developed and refined, as a language. The music is getting more soulful. The visions are getting more intricate and relevant. Left and right brain are trying to be more than friends – they are working on being lovers.
Truth is important. You can’t have much of a soul unless truth is more important to you than face. A soul is an integrated ego that is both caring and creative. Soulful music is caring and creative.
A soulful feeling in the heart can be bitter sweet, but mostly it can be sweet. This feeling comes and goes for me, but it’s habitual enough that I notice when it goes. And then I want it back. It’s been a long life of carefully cultivating a warm heart and a visible soul. And I can say unreservedly and with emphatic verve that having a soul is an incomprehensibly large boost in quality of life. Having warmth in the heart and the ability to bond and connect to people and to care and be creative towards life and the environment is a big deal.
Narcissists and those who teach narcissism would rob you of that.
Some people out there are weird and broken. And they teach being weird and broken as a way of life.
And they have a following.
And take good hard care.