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- Hide Preview | 25 Comments | submitted about a year ago by gmos905 [Post Locked]

Here's a summary of Chapter Two of Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene. If you missed part 1, I'm afraid I can't link to it from Reddit so you'll have to search.

Video Summary of Chapter 2:

Written Summary of Chapter 2: Transform Self Love Into Empathy - The Law of Narcissism.

Empathy gives us a vision into peoples moods and to acquire social power. But it’s blunted by our self absorption. We are all narcissists.

The narcissistic spectrum

Our sense of self worth depends on recognition from others. Because of this people will do almost anything to get attention.

Look behind almost any action and you will see the need for attention as a primary motivation.

Unfortunately there’s only so much attention to go around. We cannot rely on others to give us constant validation, and yet we still crave it.

To get around this we create a “self” that gives us validation from within. It can’t be too far out of line with reality or others will call us on it. But if we have a way that validates our self image from within we have self esteem.

The key window for developing a self comes between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. We become aware that we are alone but still dependent on our parents.

Deep narcissists have a sharp break during this development and are never able to construct a consistent and realistic feeling of a self. Sometimes the parents are narcissists themselves or inmeshers. They have no self to retreat to or rely on for self esteem, so they become learn how to get attention from others.

They are either a God or a worm. Since their visions for themselves are so grandiose, they often won’t be able to get validation from others, which breeds lots of self doubt.

Drugs and alcohol often become necessary crutches for narcissists to deal with the low points.

How to recognize a narcissist

  • If they are insulted or challenged, they have no defense. They react with great rage or vengeance. Position themselves as the wounded victim.
  • They immediately turn conversations to themselves. They get envious if other people are getting attention. They often project a strong self confidence but it doesn’t stand behind anything.
  • Deep narcissists have an unusual relationship with other people in their lives. They see others as extensions of themselves. Instruments of attention or tools of validation. No competition for attention. Some narcissists find attention from their work. They are continually worrying about what others think of them. They change jobs or careers rather frequently.
  • They can be frustrating and annoying to deal with. Lots of drama in their lives.

One variety of deep narcissists that are the most toxic because of the deep levels of power he or she can attain:

The Narcissistic Leader.

They often have more ambition then the average deep narcissist and for a while can funnel this energy into their work. They attract attention and followers with their energy, outrageous statements that others wouldn’t dare say. Experts at using people.

They have to control everything. Tend to burn and destroy whatever they create.

On a scale, if someone falls below the halfway mark they become a deep narcissist, they are often not able to bring themselves back up because they lack the self esteem device. Mostly tend to sink deeper into themselves over time.

Above the halfway mark on the narcissistic scale is what we call the functional narcissist. Where most of us reside. Also self absorbed but we have a coherent sense of self that we can rely upon and love. We may have deeper narcissistic moments, when challenged or depressed. But we elevate ourselves because we have the ability to turn our attention outward to our work or our relationships with others.

Our Task as Students of Human Nature is 3-fold:

  1. Fully understand the phenomenon of the deep narcissist. They can inflict a deep amount of harm in the world. We need to be able to recognize them. Know how to handle the deep narcissists in our life.
  2. We must be honest about our own nature and not deny it. We are all narcissists. We want to tell our story and give our opinion. We are all prone to flattery because of our self love. We are all on the spectrum of self absorption. We must accept our own narcissistic nature so we can move beyond it. Denying it doesn’t solve the problem.
  3. We must begin to make the transformation into the healthy narcissist. A stronger, more resilient sense of self. Hover closer to the top of the scale, recover quicker from attacks, understand their own limits. Since they understand themselves they often have a stronger sense of self. They can direct their focus and love into their work, which gives them success. The other direction is towards people. Developing empathic powers. Complete absorption of others. We can take the perspective of others when we focus on other people. These people can become great leaders.

Higher levels of self absorption has been seen in individuals since the 1970s. A lot of it can be attributed to the internet and social media. Empathy comes from focused attention on other people, not distracted.

We are built for continual social interaction. This is how we have evolved.

Deep narcissism sinks you deeper as you are unable to develop your work or relationships. But healthy narcissism and empathy as you turn your attention outward, you get constant positive attention, people want to be around you more, your work improves.

The four components of the empathic skill set

  1. The empathic attitude. Begin with the assumption that you’re ignorant and have natural bisases that will make you judge others incorrectly. Remember that other people have a mask that you can mistake for reality. Let go of your tendency to making snap judgements and open your mind. Treat every person like an undiscovered country that you must uncover. Begin this transformation in attitude in your numerous daily conversations. Reverse the impulse to talk and then try to hear other peoples point of view. Consider the mindset that makes people think the way they do. Put yourself in their shoes. Completely accept your own character flaws so you can love yourself.
  2. Visceral Empathy. Pay attention to people. When they talk they either have a feeling tone that is in sync or not in sync with what they are saying. Try to detect their feeling before even listengin to what they hav to say. The key thing we are trying to figure out is peoples intentions. There’s almost always a key emotion behind every intention. Instead of focusing on peoples words, focus on the feeling tone you pick up. This kind of awareness relies on mirror neurons which allows us to feel the energy of other people. Mirroring people on any level can bring a connection. Physically this is known as the chameleon effect.
  3. Analytic Empathy. The reason we are so close to our friends, family and lovers is because we know a lot about them. Gather as much information as you can about people. Their relationship to their parents, etc. their current relationship to their family will tell you a lot about who they are. Taste in partners will say a lot. Ask open ended questions or begin with a submission of your own. Find out what makes them unique.
  4. The empathic skill. To ensure you’re making progress on any skill, you need feedback. Feedback can come in 1 of two forms. direct (ask about thoughts and feelings to find out if you’ve guessed correctly.) or indirect (sense a greater rapport of how certain techniques work.) the more people you interact with and the greater variety, the better you get. Be alive to the moment and look at how they act with other people who aren’t you. Continually mix the visceral with the analytic.

4 examples of Narcissistic Types:

  1. The Complete Control Narcissist. There;’s a lot of questions about how someone so self absorbed can get any power. But it has to with their early careers from before they turned paranoid and vicious. Have more ambition and energy than the average narcissist. Complete control narcissists stimulate your desire to get close to them but keep you at arms distance. They control their emotions and your reactions. They will resent the fact that they have to play the charm game. They become total micromanagers because they think of other people as useless. You will enevitably encounter this type because of their ambitions they become managers, bosses, cult figures and leaders. Look at their past and see they haven’t one single relationship where they are vulnerable. Keep your distance from this type.
  2. The Theatrical Narcissist. They never just support or give to a good cause. They make a big show of it. Recognize that the focus always seems to be on them. They are always superior in suffering or drama.
  3. The Narcissistic Couple. A relationship has a life and personality all its own and can bring out the narcissistic tendencies of both sides. Lack of empathy that makes the partners retreat deeper and deeper into their own narcissistic tendencies. When narcissistic couples are together they don’t see situations from each others side. A little empathy will help this entirely. Understand the value system of the other person. This will help you understand them and show empathy at a time when you would normally pull away. Measure all relationships on the narcissism spectrum. It’s not one person or the other, but the dynamic itself that must be altered.
  4. The Healthy Narcissist - The Mood Reader. There are not a lot of books or training manuals on dealing with people’s moods. But it’s the most important thing in desperate times. Our ancestors were acutely aware of the moods of others which allowed us to cooperate. Primary Rule: The leader infects the mindset. People pick up what the leader is feeling. Mostly on the non-verbal level. Shackleton showed an air of complete confidence and optimism that infected his group.

Secondarily: divide attention between individuals and the group. With the group - chattiness, amount of swearing. With individuals - tone of voice, how quickly they eat their food, how slowly they get out of bed. When you see people in a certain mood, anticipate their moves by putting yourself into a similar mood.

Third: Be gentle. Scolding makes people feel ashamed and figured out which leads to contagious effects down the road. Find indirect ways to elevate moods or isolate individuals without them realizing what you’re doing. This takes practice.

Developing empathic powers is out of necessity. If our survival depends on it, we’ll find the resources. Normally we assume we know quite well the people we deal with. But it is a matter of life and death and our survival does depend on us being able to develop these skills.

Realize the connection between problems in our life and constant misreading of peoples moods and intentions. And the endless missed opportunities that accrue from this.

Realize you have a remarkable social tool that youre not cultivating. Try it out. Stop your interior monologue and pay deeper attention to people. Attune yourself to the shifting moods of individuals and the group. Get a read on each person’s psychology and what motivates them. Try to take their perspective. Enter their world and value system. Once you sense this power you will feel its importance and awaken to new social possibilities.

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels. I myself become the wounded person.” - Walt Whitman

Self Note: This comes in waves. Sometimes we are the healthy narcissist, sometimes we are the deep narcissist. The goal is to be aware of this and simply make a conscious effort to transform yourself into the healthy narcissist.

[-] ownthatshitmanup 9 Points about a year ago

He writes about the importance of having a ‘self’ that is true and that you’re happy with, and that sense of self helps prevents narcissistic tendencies and the urge for attention, but he never goes about on how someone can go about developing that self if they never developed it. Wondering what other people thought of that.

[-] baeslick 5 Points about a year ago

I haven't read the book yet, but this is sort of a Jungian concept about the conflict between the Self and the Ego, or persona. The persona is the mask we use to put up a front in daily interactions, and the Self is a development of our personality. From my understanding, when someone says to "kill their ego", they're really referring to the removal of that mask so that genuine development of the Self can take place, and in circumstances that demand a persona for which people can interact with, the Ego comes back. That's why Buddhism is about the transcendence of Ego, a path which only the Self remains. In Western culture, I think Ego becomes necessary to get anywhere in terms of success because our individualistic, egocentric society operates off of this manifestation of the Self. That's why Eastern societies tend to value the group versus the individual, as far as I'm concerned.

I may be pulling this out of my ass but as far as my observations go, this is my best explanation of it. The process of developing the Self comes from a continual process of death and rebirth. The consequence of incorporating new information about yourself and observations from the world around you develop your Self, and the Ego becomes that manifestation which you use to establish yourself in the social hierarchy. This is similar to martial artists sustaining micro-fractures to strengthen their bones, if you can follow the metaphor.

Narcisstic people rely on their Ego for self-approval, and so that's why we interpret these people as incredibly fake, and when they are attacked, they can only lash out because of their underdeveloped personality. That's why Cluster B disorders like NPD and BPD are so volatile, because these disorders come from a fundamental lack of stable self-identity.

[-] gmos905 3 Points about a year ago

I think this just comes with a lot of time on the earth and a lot of self reflection. You can't just know yourself, you need to try things and discover what actually matters to you, find role models who inspire you and figure out what it is about them that you resonate so strongly with.

Read a ton of books from all sorts of things and you can begin to carve out your true self. This is why switched on older guys have a strong frame, they've reflected a lot and discovered who they really are and what they care about.

[-] [deleted] about a year ago
[-] DropDeadTyrant 7 Points about a year ago

I know a narcissist. I was friends with a girl last year. fun person to talk to. she was a narcissist then, but she made the attempt to ask others about their lives and listen to what we had to say. over the summer, she started going to parties and shit. usually, when a guy does it, they become super chill as a person. but, for her, it sent her narcissism into overdrive. other girls would constantly call her out on being narcissistic and say she was stupid or irritating. during that time, she really only had girlfriends and a few gay guy friends. but, after going to parties and getting guys who were interested in her for sex and she got orbiters, she became unbearable. doesn't even try to pretend she wants your input in a conversation anymore. she just straight talks about herself and whatever guy is giving her attention. a clear example of a deep narcissist.

[-] Crimson_Medicinal 9 Points about a year ago

Is it called being narcissistic if you simply aren’t interested in other people? I’m an only child and mostly think of myself. I still try to be helpful to others but mostly it’s about me. I’ve caught myself speaking out of turn and turning topics about myself and I’ve been working on it. Most people are bland and uninteresting to me, although there are some people I can ask a hundred questions to and talk about ideas with.

[-] sadomasochrist 7 Points about a year ago

Yes, this is being narcissistic. But not necessarily NPD. And yes, it is usually from things like being an only child. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if your parents were either strict or you were neglected.

It's very rare for people to have narcissistic tendencies and not have suboptimal childhoods.

[-] Rubacund 5 Points about a year ago

Agreed, NPD is a life long pattern of destructive behaviors (to the point that they can't have functional relationships).

It's much more than just taking selfies, mirror gazing, or talking about your accomplishments.

[-] sadomasochrist 6 Points about a year ago

And to be fair, I've seen in more than one study\paper, they're having trouble even discerning narcissism in the general population because society itself has become so narcissistic.

[-] gmos905 2 Points about a year ago

That's something I left out of this that's mentioned in the book. That there has been a gigantic rise in narcissism since the 1970's and a lot of it can be contributed to social media. I believe there was an absurd spike in 2011 if I'm remembering what I heard from Jonathan Haidt correctly when he was on JRE

[-] DropDeadTyrant 2 Points about a year ago

It isn't in that way. Because you just showed you'll interact fully with some people. you're just selective. However, what I mentioned, was a person who talks to the same way to everyone no matter who they are.

[-] Nicolas0631 2 Points about a year ago

Well as said this is an equilibrium and also please understand that there difference between the common definiton and the psychiatric definition. By the common definition from what you say, you are quite narcissic. But anyway by the common definition, everybody need to be a bit at least narcissic.

For the official psychiatric definition, if you are truely interrested, you can double check on google, looking for something like "Narcissistic personality disorder DSM". You should fine things arround the lines:


A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following: 

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) 

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love 

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) 

(4) requires excessive admiration 

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations 

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends 

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others 

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her 

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Most often truely narcissic persons can't find the problem due to their way of approaching the world anyway so even if they understand they are afflicted, they are not interrested to change. Interrestingly, from why I could found on the online documentation, there is anyway no reported case of people that stopped having the disorder.

You would wonder why I know this ? Well just because my ex met all 9 criteria.

In doubt, you'll need to double check with a professionnal in the field.

You may wonder why it is ever usefull. Well I would say it is quite simple on many aspect narcissic people under perform. They lack the empathy that is necessary to understand and predict others and so get less out of them. Finally, when people discover what they truely are, they despise them and avoid them at all cost. In the end this is truely an handicap and a disease.

The benefit of being narcissic on the contrary is you are confident and usually don't hesistate to take things for yourself, that quite valuable quality and that why many narcissic people are in position of power. But if you let it go too far, if you routinely ignore other others and what they could think/do for/against you, you have a big problem.

My ex for example would have got much more of what she crave for is she was less narcissic, could accept to make a few more concessions and showed more empathy. She is working against herself and for her own fall.

[-] destraht 2 Points about a year ago

Well what can you do. Sometimes these very damaged females are members of our families. Narcissists can still be very thoughtful about others but its through a template and there isn't much room for reactivity (to the other persons unexpected preference) when interests clash.

[-] Nicolas0631 2 Points about a year ago

In statistics, males are more subject to narcisism than females. Females tend to be more subject to be borderline for example.

[-] destraht 1 Point about a year ago

After reading through comparisons I'm not quite sure which of these fit for my people. They could probably be diagnosed as light cases of either. So replace the "Narcissists" above with "People who are sometimes just a little bit fucked up".

[-] Nicolas0631 1 Point about a year ago

I speak of the official psychiatric condition called Narcissic personality disorder.

Not normal people that are sometime not 100% altruist lol.

[-] kalashnick 4 Points about a year ago

America is a "what-can-you-do-for-me" society. Break the mold and just give a damn for once about the other fellow.

[-] shaggyctes88 2 Points about a year ago

Yes, but don't give all to everybody.

[-] whutyomamado 3 Points about a year ago

I see myself as the complete control narcissist. I am very ambitious and I think most people are dumb and self absorbed but I've been making a daily effort to be more empathetic.

At the beginning of my TRP journey I was the epitome of a nice guy and as I learned and pushed myself over the past two years 1 thing hasn't changed... I always keep everyone at arms length even my best friends...

I've been going through depression and had major shit go down, but I covered it up as much as possible. Never shared my thoughts with anyone because I didn't want their pity. I'm not a proud person. I just think that talking about my problems only burden those that hear it. I spent a year in monk mode trying to get into the right state of mind and finally I'm starting to improve a little.

I started a new job that I really love and working my as off to work my way up the ladder. I've always been good at listening to others and pretending to be empathetic. At the end of the day I don't remember much of the conversation. I don't talk about myself much. They only know the facade of the guy I am at work.

Sorry I just started rambling. Just wanted to let you know where I'm coming from.

My question is how do I fix myself. I've been faking it til I make it for so long and it seems I'm taking 2 steps back and 1 step forward. Thanks if you read all this. Cheers!!!

Edit: I'm trying to love myself because after some thinking... even though I'm above average I'm never good enough for myself. I'm hungry but it might be in an unhealthy amount. I hate myself if I don't complete all my tasks I set for myself. Even if I did most of it. The thought that if I did a little more I could have finished is always on my mind. This is the reason I keep everyone at arms length because of my deep root hatred of myself... I don't know when I started thinking like this but I don't like it. I've lost plenty of chances to make meaningful friendships because of my fears of showing them the ugliness of my imperfections. I want to seem like the perfect dude to every one. Even though I know it is impossible. So I only let them see the best side of me for a limited amount of time. Because let's face it. I can't keep it up forever. And I slowly start pushing them away with my actions. I've left social media 3 years ago and only use it as an email alternate for Spotify and the like.

I hate that I know the reason but I can't figure the cure out.

[-] Nicolas0631 4 Points about a year ago

If you are serious about it, go for a specialist and take time discussing with him. They have deeper knowledge of human nature than us. Don't even try to think you could solve a long dilema of yours easily with a few posts on an online forum.

[-] whutyomamado 2 Points about a year ago

Thanks ithink I'm going to look for someone in my area

[-] gmos905 2 Points about a year ago

What you talk about is actually in the next chapter of this book. We all wear masks to hide our ugly nature, it's completely natural and how society evolved. Being vulnerable is very, very important and one of the best things I've ever learned to do. communicate honestly, love yourself, and be open about your feelings to others.

Ambition is fine. Although some people don't think about it as good. Just hide your ambitions from those people, only reveal amounts to specific people in your life. Not everyone needs to know everything.

I would also look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You have this thing about shitting on yourself if you don't accomplish everything it seems. And with CBT you could do well to reframe those automatic mental thoughts into something positive. That way you don't feel down on yourself and you can bounce back from things quicker. It looks to me like you're almost there, just at the tip, but then somethings holding you back. If you just reframe it to believe and know you're already there then you can just effortless cross that threshold.

[-] whutyomamado 3 Points about a year ago

Thank you I really appreciate you for taking the time to reply. I'm going to try and find someone for CBT, just like you describe I'm right there but I'm missing something.

Cheers to being the best version of ourselves!!

[-] [deleted] about a year ago
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