Are narcissistic demons on earth

The addiction to recognition

"I once said to my mother, I'll make it big, I'll become a moderator and I could imagine taking on this Thomas Gottschalk job, because that would be fun to fill the people and the benches, to then have interviews with people. Just to use my strengths a bit, because everywhere I am it's funny and somehow it's fun to be with people. "

"I could also imagine going into politics, because then achieving something would be enough for me. To sit in the state parliament and then also to politicize there or, accordingly, to say that I will be something bigger there can. "

I am a person who does everything he does excessively.
Joschka Fischer

I find power attractive.
Helmut Kohl

Power is the most powerful aphrodisiac.
Henry Kissinger.

Power fascinates. Those who practice it are often admired or demonized. Power is neither good nor bad. And for some, immensely seductive.

"If you think of politicians like Schröder, or Lafontaine or Joschka Fischer, for example - they all enjoy presenting themselves in public and in this respect they show a form of narcissism that should not be devalued."

So Dr. Hans-Jürgen Wirth, graduate psychologist in Giessen and private lecturer at the University of Bremen. He deals with the psychoanalysis of mental disorders in politics. With people who are intoxicated with their power, who are vain and only related to themselves - that is, they are narcissistic.

You want to be in the spotlight and be seen by everyone. They are dazzling personalities as long as the spotlights are on them. However, if you go over the top and are blinded by yourself, close your eyes to reality.

Some politicians realize too late how close they are to the abyss. This was shown by the case of the former Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein Uwe Barschel.

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Wirth:
"Barschel had maneuvered himself into a hopeless situation in which he was finally cornered so that he only saw a total loss of face and then only saw the way out of killing himself."

Dr. Claas-Hinrich Lammers:
"At the moment when they are no longer admired from the outside, they are ignored, they really buckle in the truest sense of the word and feel worthless, inferior and have extremely strong feelings of shame. And that is probably a mechanism of in In early childhood and development, it arises that these people do not have sufficient self-confidence and try to compensate for that, i.e. to balance it out, by appearing extremely self-confident outwardly, "

... states Dr. Claas-Hinrich Lammers, private lecturer and psychiatrist at the Berlin Charité. Among other things, he treats people with a narcissistic personality disorder - if they find their way to therapy one day due to a crisis. A certain degree of narcissism belongs to a stable personality, it depends on the expression whether it is a pathological form:

"That means, on the one hand, you have someone who is a bit self-confident, who is success-oriented, where you cannot say that this is a narcissist. You can say that he has very self-confident tendencies and is less concerned with his fellow human beings, but rather with oneself."

"Then you have someone in the middle who, for example, is already very aggressive, demeans other people very much, has little empathy, i.e. compassion for other people, and basically constantly indulges in size fantasies about what he can still achieve in life could. And even he is not yet a person with a narcissistic personality disorder. "

"At the other end of the line you have someone who has not had a job for years - I'm going to describe a sick narcissist - who has the greatest ideas about how important he is, what kind of important thoughts he actually has, what kind of important projects he actually has who has no relationship because he is no longer tolerable for his environment, and who repeatedly has severe depressive break-ins. The whole thing is a continuum, there is no very rigid demarcation. "

It is the grandiose self-assurance of the self that dominates narcissists. People with a strong narcissistic expression only go into therapy when the facade of self-intoxication collapses. Graduate psychologist Ully Plank:

"With the narcissist, the world looks like this: I am the greatest, I am the best, I can do everything and I succeed in everything. But at some point he will fail with this attitude, be it in his job, be it in his private life, that for the Example the wife says, well, next to such a great man I can, I don't want to exist anymore, I don't have any space and then I want to split up. Then comes great astonishment, then comes a great crisis. "

Those affected often swim on the wave of success for years. They are driven by ambition and enjoy the power of their professional position, which they owe not least to their narcissism. And which gives new nourishment to narcissism.

They are often more feared than loved by colleagues and sometimes also in their relationships. What outwardly looks like an excess of self-love is often the exact opposite, as the pedagogue and psychotherapist Heinz Peter Röhr admits:

If a person is extremely disturbed in their ability to love themselves, this leads to this so-called narcissistic personality disorder. This disorder develops early and leads these people into isolation. They split off their feelings. You feel cold. You feel jealous. And they can hardly develop such soft feelings.

"Narcissism. The Inner Prison" is the title of his book, in which Röhr also deals with the genesis and causes of the narcissistic personality disorder. In their early development, those affected often experienced too little real love. They then try to make up for this deficit in different ways without being redeemed from their drama. Subconsciously or consciously, they try to avoid really feeling this drama as long as their narcissism is satisfied. It is the demon of power that promotes it, and by which so many people are driven, as Friedrich Nietzsche recognized in 1881:

The demon of power - not the need, not the desire - no, the love of power is the demon of people. Give them everything: health, food, accommodation, entertainment - they are and will remain unhappy and grilled: because the demon waits and waits and wants to be satisfied. You take everything from them and satisfy them: they are almost happy - as happy as humans and demons can be.

Major symptoms of narcissistic disorder today are often inevitable in the western world to climb the corporate ladder or even to keep the job.

"The American psychoanalyst Christopher Lasch spoke of the age of narcissism, and there are quite a number of authors who postulate an increase in narcissistic disorders in modern society. Our society is more about how one can assert oneself, how one can how one presents oneself prevails. "

But wherever people hold positions of power, there is also the potential danger that they will exercise this unhindered in the service of very private narcissistic needs.

"That means, as long as I can exercise power over others, I have a certain sense of meaning, that is, that I am important. I can also keep others in check, that is, I don't have to expose myself to the criticism and scrutiny of others And at the same time, power has something aggressive about it, that is, it is an extremely good way of distinguishing yourself from other people who, as it were, keep yourself at bay. The only problem with narcissists with power is that they tend to use their power to abuse. "

This is shown in its most extreme form by the despots of history, who are endowed with enormous means of power: from Caesar to Napoleon to Hitler. Power and narcissism are like Siamese twins, writes Hans-Jürgen Wirth in his book "Narcissism and power. On the psychoanalysis of mental disorders in politics".

"Basically, everyone depends on their value being reflected back by others. So that's nothing pathological. Narcissism is also nothing pathological, but we all have a sense of self-worth and must constantly assert it, and win again, build it up And for this the reaction and the recognition that we get from others is very important. But now this process can slip away and one can use one's power, one's influence to induce or even force others to give recognition based on the power . And so power and narcissism are very closely related. "

Pop culture, competitive sports, the media scene and especially politics are ideal stages for the satisfaction of narcissistic needs. The search for recognition that leads to a position of power can easily turn into an addiction for recognition:

"Helmut Kohl would be an example of how he linked his self-esteem very strongly with power. And he then had the particular problem of letting go of power. And, contrary to the advice of his party friends, ran one last time, although it was actually foreseeable for everyone that he would no longer be able to win the election. And so here one's own narcissistic endeavor to remain in power was greater than to surrender political insight. "

"The danger is that narcissists as advisors only crowd yes-sayers and admirers and droolers around them. And then they just lack the critical response that everyone needs in such a prominent position."

"These people cannot integrate successes. They do not get full. Even if they have worked out something positively, it is as if it would fail. Like a sieve. And so they stay hungry forever, always full of resentment and full of self-hatred and only have one possibility to want to work through the supply of renewed recognition. "

A phenomenon that affects men more than women insofar as they are more often in positions of power. Male socialization is often a pioneer for narcissistic tendencies, according to the psychiatrist Claas-Hinrich Lammers:

"For men, it is much more justified in their upbringing that they appear aggressive and self-confident on the outside. This is often part of the upbringing that these behaviors are encouraged. Women often have this phenomenon that they express their anger or anger inward. Women tend to turn this lack of self-esteem against themselves, that is, this aggression, and then what is known as borderline disorder develops. Where women really suffer from extreme self-hatred. "

A lack of self-esteem can be expressed in a wide variety of behavior. Also, self-perception and perception of others can sometimes be far apart. For example, a client in behavioral therapy who works as a branch manager of a discount store believes he will one day follow in Thomas Gottschalk's footsteps.

"Maybe one day I'll make it big. I think society and the environment don't really notice me yet."

To be the hero, the superstar who flies through the air, who is not afraid of adventure, people with narcissistic disorders tend to be. You love the spectacular, the unusual. They don't seem to shy away from anything, as the psychotherapist Ully Plank reports.

"Maybe a little anecdote that didn't happen to me, but to a colleague who told me that a narcissist came to the first conversation with the helicopter. And that is very astonishing for the rural area here, namely that it landed in front of the City on a meadow and then came running into town, came to the therapy session, dutifully told that he was there with the helicopter, thought that was great, of course wanted to impress. So in the conversation it came out that he did not have a driver's license who was taken away from him for driving alcohol.

The helicopter with the jet fuel was borrowed from a wealthy friend of his. So narcissists always have a niche, have friends, have people who help them out, who help them out. "

The psychologist Heinz-Peter Röhr, who works in the specialist clinic Fredeburg for addicts with narcissistically disturbed patients, is also familiar with this. He knows their crashes and looks behind the facade of intoxication.

"These people are interested in shining early on. To be special, to represent themselves. They may be arrogant, they are cold, they don't care about other people's feelings, but are very fixated on their own needs to satisfy."

The foundation stone for narcissistic disorder is often laid in early childhood.

"I can think of a lot of patients who were able to work out in therapy that they were puppets, that they had to function like little robots, whereby they had to meet the expectations of their parents perfectly. And had little leeway for themselves. This is how they developed a so-called "false self": And whoever observes them closely, these people, realizes that they seem strangely fake. And present themselves differently on the outside than they actually feel on the inside. "

The psychotherapist Ully Plank also sees causes for narcissistic disorders in childhood.

"With the narcissist it is often the case that he is born and through some ability that he looks particularly beautiful, that he has some ability to sing beautifully, to paint beautifully, to be able to act, a particularly strong expression and ability for which he actually doesn't have to do anything. And this "I don't have to do anything", also with regard to the pampering by the parents or grandparents, is a danger for further development, this "I don't have to do anything" and we all have to do something do and also bring us in. And the narcissist had the experience very early on, I don't have to do anything for it. "

If a narcissist enters into a relationship, he also plays the dominant role there.

"That shows a bit that the narcissist is used to coaxing his counterpart, his wife, his person next to him. In the case of the dependent personality disorder, it works, goes well for a while, until a crisis arises and the inconspicuous peacock lady finds out at some point I can't and I don't always want to live in this slipstream, I also have my own personality and would like to shape the relationship according to my wishes and needs. Then it becomes difficult, then the crisis comes and then I might see the narcissist here in my practice . "

“That reminds”, writes the psychologist Fritz Riemann, “of the fable of the peacock who wants to marry a simple hen; at the registry office, the registrar crow expresses her astonishment that such a magnificent peacock wants to marry the inconspicuous hen, which he does gravely only says: "I and my wife love me to the point of madness!"

As long as one partner accepts the other's private leadership role, this constellation can often be stable for years.

Narcissistic people are not just convinced of themselves. Rather, they firmly believe that other people will also find them convincing.

"My strength is that I can inspire other people, I'm a bit of a tough guy, I scratched around a lot, we always have a lot of partying and then we always have fun."

"My strengths are that I go too much into people and maybe not enough to say no."

Two clients from the practice of the psychotherapist Ully Plank. The two examples show that even when narcissistic people speak of their weaknesses, they often mean their strengths.

They are masters at fine-tuning and know how to fool other people. Even if their own situation appears threatening.

"I don't know anything else about having debts or having some kind of financial difficulties through my family. And then we had the situation that everything we had touched with money broke, always somehow went wrong, well I have a knack for it. "

Most of the time, it's only the others to blame. Anyone who accuses them of their arrogance or who tries to expose their false games will bite their granite. You then appear cold and aloof. What the other does not know: then they are deeply hurt.

"You have to know that they are extremely hurtful. Narcissistically disturbed people have incredibly sensitive antennae for being hurt.They feel like a knife is being twisted in their stomach. "

The Berlin psychiatrist Claas-Hinrich Lammers also had this experience with patients.

"We know that narcissists are very sensitive to criticism. If you then ask exactly: imagine the person who criticized you, what was the very first thing that happened to you? Then they often come and say: know." You, the first thing was that I thought everything would collapse now, I had a feeling of: I'm not worth anything - which of course is in stark contrast to their appearance. "

As much as they appear shimmering and carefree on the outside, they also suffer from their role. Even if they hardly or not at all want to admit it.

"I miss the shoulder that I could cry on, but these are things that always go away very quickly."

"I have almost no people left to talk to and I actually don't even know when I come here what to tell first, because almost the hour is not enough for me."

Narcissistically disturbed people often lack good friends and really close partners. A fact that they like to suppress, according to the pedagogue and psychotherapist Heinz-Peter Röhr:

"Alcohol fills this inner void, fills this dissatisfaction, and cocaine in particular is such a drug that responds perfectly to narcissism, which therefore fills this void perfectly."

And so it is clear that a great many of these people become addicts. If they lose their importance, for example lose work or have to give up work due to old age, and thus a narcissistic field of activity is lost or missing, then the latent alcoholism that was there before may turn into manifest alcoholism.

In Heinz-Peter Röhr's practice, who works in an addiction clinic, mainly patients come who have fled their everyday world. And who then resorted to drugs. Her self-love has made her shimmer in a dazzling glow. But only they know how lonely they have remained.

"The deeper need is basically to be able to feel loved. Only that is not possible through recognition, it does not work through power. You can work for recognition, but not love. Love is always a gift. And these people are afraid of dependence. They cannot get involved in close relationships. Because they then slide back into this feeling of feeling so dependent and small. So needy, there shouldn't be anything like that. And it is precisely this underlying need to establish the ability to love that would be the real thing, what has to happen in therapy. "

So far there is hardly any scientific knowledge about the conditions under which people develop a narcissistic disorder and with what type of psychotherapy they can be helped. The Berlin private lecturer and psychiatrist Claas-Hinrich Lammers also admits:

"The fact is that there are a large number of studies on narcissism as a personality trait, such as: more self-conscious, or more clingy or more social. About personality disorder in the context of narcissism, really about sick people who suffer, who even if you have problems at work or in the family, there are basically almost no studies. "

People with a narcissistic disorder cannot really look into their soul. Who would have guessed how much they suffer, and in some cases are suicidal? But on the contrary. Their glamor, their shine is admired. Who thinks of the abysses?

"It's the brilliance, it's the grandiosity, it's a bit like the charm too, the eloquence, the fascination that radiates and where you want it, yes, I want to be like that too. Many actors are in this area too find, they have their qualities and you like to look at them and wish: I would like to be a bit like him or like them! "