Does a mirror tell the truth? I asked that question in a poem I wrote for my psychiatrist over 40 years ago. I hadn’t thought about it again in all these years until tonight, when it suddenly popped into my mind after having read several articles and forum posts about Malignant Narcissists. Interesting how the subconscious works, but I think that I now finally know the answer to the question. – “Maybe. It depends on who’s looking in it!”
According to the medical professionals having expertise in this area, the evil, ugly old witch who with all sincerity was able to look into the mirror and ask “Who is the fairest in all the land?”, fully believing the answer to be herself, was a classic model of malignant narcissism. The witch was the biggest dupe of all, falling for her very own cons, long after the rest of the kingdom had finally seen through her façade. The old bat was blind to the fact that people were no longer afraid of her ominous shrieking and cackle and no longer fooled by her self-serving lies.
Like all folk tales, fables, and legends, there is more than a grain of bare-knuckled reality in the fairy tales read to us as children. Life isn’t always pretty. People can be dangerous. The innocent often suffer the most and often, evil appears to be triumphant. While the malignant narcissists of this world see the witches and sorcerers and power-obsessed characters as role models for “how to get your way”, most of us grow up still believing in the power of goodness and that truth and honesty shall eventually prevail.
I firmly believe that the path we choose and the image we thus see in the mirror is a reflection of what is in our souls and not a reflection of the particular arrangement of skin and bones that form our physical faces. I realize that this may sound illogical or contradictory at first since you might assume that if my theory is true, then evil people would see ugliness in the mirror and then naturally realize everyone else sees it, too. But that’s not how it works. In the twisted ego of a malignant narcissist, they are in such denial of who they really are, they actually view themselves as the idealized person they believe they were born to be right out of the box. So why would you want to change perfection? By comparison, when the rest of us look in a mirror, we see a person with flaws who is still working to become the best she can be. To be clear, I am not trying to say that malignant narcissists all see themselves as physically beautiful when they gaze into a mirror. Rather, I’m using the mirror as a metaphor for how a person sees their whole self and imagines that this is the same image they present to the world and that the world sees. Because so many Malignant Narcissists ["MN's"] are intellectually quite bright, it can take quite a while for other’s to recognize that MN’s are at the same time, emotionally shallow and socially obtuse. These deficiencies leave MN’s so ill-equipped that they are incapable of questioning their own beliefs, judgments, and actions. Consequently, Malignant Narcissists are completely blind to the red flags that their attitudes and behaviour raises in the objective minds of those around them. In contrast, people with a healthy soul are always re-examining themselves from the inside out and making adjustments, as that is the only way one can learn from their mistakes and have a chance at becoming a better and more effective person.
After much research, analysis and reflection on this subject, I’ve come to realize that Malignant Narcissists simply cannot see behind their own masks. I have also realized the necessity of revising my short-hand description of myself from “What you see is what you get” (meaning I’m not into playing mind games and have no hidden agendas) to what I think may be more accurately put as: “What I see is what you get.” Does that make sense to you?
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