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Positions of authority make narcissist’s life easy

by Lori Hoeck on December 7, 2009

AngryFacePastors, military leaders, workplace bosses, teachers, administrators — yes, even parents — have one thing Dark Hearts or narcissists crave: automatic authority.

The added dimension of authority makes it so much easier to be a narcissist or emotional predator. They feed on the expected deference, relish the ability to control others, and jump at the chance to build ongoing ego strokes.  Their constant quest for personal gratification and attention (also known as Narcissistic Supply) is facilitated by being the one holding the reins to family, workplace, school, military unit, or church.

Their elevated position allows them to

  • Bully
    I’m the senior here, wiser and more experienced. Follow my directions and everything will work out just fine. I won’t stand for creativity and new ideas. Just do the work, and you get a paycheck.
  • Berate (after being a crazy-maker and blame shifter)
    I don’t like your attitude recently.  If I want an employee’s opinion, I’ll tell it to them!

  • Belittle
    You told me, when the project started, that you were a bit unsure of yourself.  Now I see why. Haven’t you learned anything?
    You better shape up, or I’ll put your administrative assistant in charge.
  • Build
    Enough of the lone guns and lone wolves. This project must come together under my direction. I want people I can trust — people who understand what I’m trying to build here. I want people who care about what is important to me as a businessman and are willing to sacrifice to build it.

They can also:

  • Sow discord — Pit one person against another so they don’t trust or team-build:
    I shouldn’t be telling you this, but at our last meeting Joe actually made fun of your volunteer work.
  • Withhold info — Hoard needed information so that others must ask for it:
    We have to keep a lid on what goes out to others. We can’t have everyone interpreting the data willy nilly.
  • Fuel fires — Create drama, and then relish the adrenaline rush of knocking heads and settling things down:
    Stop what you are doing right now. We need to have a meeting over a very important topic, and some of you aren’t going to like it.


Have you ever been under the thumb of a Dark Heart in authority?

Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck

Photo credit: bixentro

{ 9 comments }

1 Betsy Wuebker December 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Hi Lori – Yeah, in the 1980’s I worked for a guy who was a narcissist and more than likely a functioning alcoholic (self-medicating?). I bought the book “Coping with Difficult People” because of him. I found that once I realized I didn’t have any trouble getting a job elsewhere, the perception that I needed to keep the job working with him or else I would starve or something faded away to nothing. Still, it was amazing I stayed in that position for a couple of years. I also realized that he was a far more important part of my life than I was in his. I constantly thought about work and what he would be doing, yet I finally realized he rarely gave me a second thought. When the lack of balance in that sunk in, I was out of there.

2 Lori Hoeck December 8, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Hi Betsy,
I think they wire up a relationship so that they have people thinking a lot about them, perhaps because they are so parental, or require people to walk on eggshells, or are so invasive in certain areas that they create hooks to keep their underlings unbalanced, yet coming back for more.

3 janice December 10, 2009 at 6:53 am

Hi, Lori,
The more I read this excellent series, the more I fear I could become a Dark Heart to my kids. Thanks for making me aware enough to do something to avoid it getting worse.

4 Lori Hoeck December 10, 2009 at 10:25 am

Hi Janice,
Read lots of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s stuff! He’s been influential with my husband and I in the practice what Dyer calls non-interference. His movie The Shift rocks — makes you really think about life transitions.

5 Davina December 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I had a boss who “appeared” to use her power to control those that worked for her. It was difficult to work for her. Looking back, I have a sneaking suspicion that her act was more of a cry for help. She didn’t believe in her own skills and was trying to make herself look stronger than she felt. We never got on too well, but there was still an underlying chord of respect for each other.

6 vered | blogger for hire December 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Fortunately, I haven’t! Sounds like a terrible position to be in.

7 Lori Hoeck December 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Hi Davina,
There’s nothing wrong with using power to motivate, it’s just that a narcissists uses it to create an ongoing supply of narcissistic supply. Narcissists rarely understand mutual respect.

Hi Vered,
Good to hear it! I’m glad your authority figures were made of different stuff. It seems like narcissists are on the rise, so I’m happy you missed out!

8 Barbara Swafford December 13, 2009 at 4:18 am

Hi Lori,

Years ago I worked for a woman whom I suspect was a narcissist. I was too young and naive to realize what was happening, but ironically a couple of years later I ended up with her job.

9 Lori Hoeck December 13, 2009 at 10:06 am

Hi Barbara,
That’s one reason I write this site! The young and naive need to be clued in to the warning signs of emotional predators and the traits of narcissists. My hope is parents pass on this information as well. Once teens and young adults know these insights, they have more power to make wise choices in relationships.

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