As narcissists relate with you, their starting point can be summarized: “I’m right, which means you’re wrong.”  Commonly, they project an overly confident, arrogant demeanor.  They truly think of themselves as more enlightened than you.  They can be bossy, controlling, and pathologically stubborn.  

Over time, through repeated exposures with them, it becomes clear that you are in the presence of a self-deluded fraud. 

Even as they project an image of certainty, they clearly lack solid reasoning.  They are unaware (or unconcerned) about their inappropriate and damaging attitudes.  They are highly subjective in their interpretation of life, as opposed to being objective.  And what is worse, when you call them out, narcissists will insist you are the troubled one.

Simply put, exposure to narcissists reveals that they are dense, to the point of sometimes being out of touch with reality.  

To get an idea of the ways narcissists show themselves as dense, let’s identify several indicators:

  • They have a lack of analytical thinking, especially about oneself.  The live inside their own Alternate Reality.
  • Others’ common sense is dismissed as wrong or irrelevant.
  • Being disinterested in self-improvement, they cannot ask for help.
  • With others, they are both smug and easily annoyed.  
  • They have a very low capacity for fair-minded discussions.  Invalidations are the norm.
  • They are strongly drawn toward themes of power and dominance.
  • As they seek input, they are driven by a need for confirmation bias.
  • When something goes afoul, they invariably look for a scapegoat.
  • They are pessimists by nature, as evidenced by easy criticism.
  • Having no appreciation for nuance, they are strongly inclined to simplistic answers.  Black/white thinking is pervasive.

As you witness these and other aspects of a narcissist’s tendencies, you can naturally ask:  Why are they this dense?  What lays at the base of such a dysfunctional manner of thinking and being?

Narcissists have low levels of emotional intelligence. 

Most had virtually no training to approach life with conscientiousness, but instead the self-absorption common in little children remains intact.  They have very low levels of empathy.  They show little curiosity about others beyond learning a person’s vulnerabilities that could be exploited.  They like receiving encouragement and affirmation, but do not appreciate the need to offer it in reverse.  To them, gentleness and consideration are signs of weakness because their inherent need to be superior will not allow themselves to be accommodating.

Long ago, narcissists learned that it is too risky to trust or to engage with mutuality. 

A form of paranoia became entrenched in their personalities.  The net result is lightning quick defensiveness, as they presume your separate ideas and preferences imply you are in competition against them.  Their coping skills are so woefully underdeveloped that they have adopted short-sighted, heavy-handed tactics to make you submit to their narrow preferences.  Harmonizing is a skill they simply have not mastered.

At the core of a narcissist’s density is the presence of psychological incompetence

They either were not trained to be psychologically competent or the capacity for it simply does not exist.  Diversity scares them, and when required to respond to psychological complexities, a voice within screams: “I’m in over my head.  I don’t know what to do!”  Narcissists are fixated in a pre-adolescent state of mind where sophisticated reasoning gives way to emotional impulses.

In other words, dense narcissists are children in grown-up bodies.

As you encounter dense narcissists, remind yourself that they are imprisoned by psychological stupidity, the inability to appreciate adult maturity.  And yet, they want you to believe you are the dense person.  These people will never be your safe person, so be wary of confiding personal matters with them and keep them out of your inner psychological circle.

Drop any illusion that you can change that person. 

Instead, be true to your convictions and values, and in the process, make room for their predictable ridicule.  Keep in mind that any deep, personal discussions with the dense narcissist will not end well, which means they have not earned the right to be your advisor, nor should you expect them to understand you.

Dense narcissists have zero appreciation for interconnection since they have concluded that they are beyond the need for instructive input.  That being the case, let them be what they are even as you individualize your separate efforts to find peace.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

If you’d like to watch the video version of this article, click here.