There are two similar sounding words that have quite distinct meanings:  authority and authoritarian.  To be an authority means you have knowledge about a topic that goes beyond the average person’s understanding.  People in authority draw upon personal experience and education that positions them to be articulate on their given topic.  Being authoritarian implies something altogether different. 

Authoritarian individuals consider themselves privileged, which in turn prompts them to become superimposing, power-hungry, condescending, close-minded, and oppressive.

Authoritarian individuals may indeed have an extra measure of knowledge about certain topics, although that is not always the case.  But knowledgeable or not, they are quite willing to distort truth so they can find dominance over you.  They are manipulators who feel it is their calling to superimpose an ideology onto those inside their sphere of influence.

As you might imagine, many narcissists gravitate toward the authoritarian mindset.

Being hungry for control, profoundly insecure and also selfish, they can stubbornly adhere to relationship patterns that prop them up as a force to be reckoned with.  Fairness and coordination are immaterial to them since their real goal is your submission and adulation.

As part of the authoritarian mindset, these individuals feel little need to know you.  While you might wish for them to prioritize empathy and harmony, their psychological pathology will not allow that.

This underscores the importance of you holding onto self-affirmation.  The narcissist will hardly ever consider your ideas or feelings, but you can remain self-affirming. 

With that in mind, let’s focus on 8 common thoughts you might hold that the authoritarian narcissist cannot grasp:

  1. I’m not some flunky who needs to be told how to think.”  The authoritarian narcissist does not recognize that you have a sound mind, along with the ability to assimilate facts. But that does not alter the truth that you are quite capable.
  1. I am not your competition, someone to be defeated.”  Authoritarian people are by nature very competitive.  They need to feel superior, which means they need someone to play the role of the loser.  You need not accept their reasoning, despite them insisting that you are supposed to play the role of the subordinate.
  1. Your chronic disrespect and insults decrease whatever influence you wish to find.”  Astonishingly, narcissists presume that if they can belittle you often enough, they will have greater influence.  The truth is that they merely become boorish, prompting people to seek the exit.
  1. Being threatening and punitive doesn’t teach me a lesson.”  Authoritarian narcissists insist upon conformity and they presume you can be coerced into obedience.  The only lesson their harshness teaches is to stay away.  No one likes being pounded into submission.
  1. Your lust for power makes you look cartoonish.”  Narcissists think they look impressive when they wield power, when in fact, they are kidding themselves…literally.  If not for the uncomfortable consequences of being connected to them, their attitudes and behaviors would be little more than a joke.
  1. I see through your lies.”  Because their lack of understanding is so exaggerated, they have to lie to themselves as they attempt to convince you of their importance.  They cannot see how absurd their distortions are, but you certainly can.
  1. Genuine kindness and civility work for me.”  Sadly, if the goal is to establish influence, there is a clean path, but narcissists cannot see their way onto it.  Positive influence is a direct byproduct of treating people with dignity, something sorely missing in the authoritative way of engagement.
  1. It’s amusing to know how threatened you are by my free choices.”  Alongside their need to control is the insistence to limit your independence.  By attempting to shut you down, they illustrate how fearful they are that you might hold ideas and opinions would rival theirs.  

Narcissists do not understand that the best way to gain favor is via a good reputation, not dominance

Short term, authoritarians may succeed in imposing their will upon you, but for their impact to be true and lasting, traits like humility and empathy are needed.  Unfortunately, narcissists are too psychologically lazy to put in the hard work of building believable character.  Their aim is self-serving only.

That being the case, you can conclude that it makes no sense to acquiesce to one who has no regard for you.  Why would you set aside your good priorities for one who has little to offer in the matters of decency and civility?

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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