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Whenever we have spoken or written about sexual abuse, we have always talked about victims from our own perspective. We have discussed how the numerous psychological impacts of abuse can disempower victims, causing all sorts of conditions and disorders and as a result of those impacts, victims can make some poor choices in their lives.
However, recently I read an article about the appalling and endemic sexual abuse of young boys at one of Dublin’s private colleges Terenure College run by the Carmelite order of priests that occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The article spoke about how the young boys turned out by this college, would most likely go on to become captains of industry, top rugby players, political leaders and decision makers for our country.
THE TRUE COST
Some might see the fact that victims of abuse can manage to excel at whatever field they choose and do not let their abuse hold them back, as a positive. However, I believe that we must acknowledge the damage that abuse does to its victims and be willing to explore what happens if victims do not look at, or deal with, their abuse.
The true cost of not understanding exactly how abuse and its impacts are forever ingrained into the personality of an individual is vitally important. We need to be aware that if unaddressed, these impacts will negatively influence the decisions, attitudes and behaviours of victims in whatever role they may find themselves in.
If a victim of abuse fears or chooses not to explore their past, they may do whatever it takes to push or ignore their feelings of anger, self-hatred, rejection, and hurt deep down inside, living in a state of permanent denial. These feelings most likely originated from their experience of powerlessness while being abused.
With no real sense of self, a victim who has used his/her career to mask or avoid feeling vulnerable, may go on to gauge their success or failures by the reaction of those around them. They may become overachievers, obsessive in their need to win or climb to the top. They often place excessively harsh demands on themselves, constantly setting unreachable targets ensuring they will always be disappointed. They will continually strive for perfection that does not exist regardless of what area of their life they try to achieve it in.
Overachieving in education or a career path can often lead to what is outwardly perceived as success. Victims may misread their unhealthy obsession with power as drive and ambition.
If these victims then rise to positions of power and control they are likely to develop a narcissistic personality. If they do not acknowledge or deal with their past they can develop an inflated sense of entitlement based on the belief that they, and only they can do anything right. It is also not uncommon for them to be arrogant, domineering and exploitative. This behaviour conflicts with their excessive need for admiration and makes it difficult to maintain relationships in their private or professional lives. However, the biggest problem with a narcissist is their inability to have empathy. So, when it comes to making decisions based on what is good for the people, they will undoubtedly make the wrong choices.
For the most part they are too busy playing the game with their peers and looking for approval from their inner circle. For this reason, they will never be able to understand the plight of the new employee, the unemployed, sick, elderly or minority groups, unless they feel they are belonging to one of those groups. It is the groups of people they are currently influenced by that will determine their decisions. They won’t be unduly concerned with the masses but rather with the chosen few that they admire and feel they understand.
They are most likely to pay lip service rather than taking action or making real changes to improve the lives of the people they may represent in whatever position they hold.
Due to the blocking of their own feelings they cannot connect with others pain and suffering. Their focus will be on how to climb higher and how to make connections to improve their lot.
Because of their perceived success, they may question other peoples motivation and even resent others feeling that in their eyes, others have not done enough to better themselves. They may feel that others are lazy or stupid and have no desire to be any better, this leads to resenting that ‘these people’ benefit from their hard work.
DANGERS FOR US ALL
Having a narcissist in a position that influences our lives is dangerous for us all. They are incapable of including emotion in their decisions but instead use logic. These facts or logical conclusions are also skewed, because they use their own filter which is influenced by their own negative life experience. The energy they put into avoiding being triggered emotionally, can ensure they will avoid making decisions that serve anyone other than themselves.
WHO IS PULLING OUR STRINGS
When I look at this country and how it is currently being run, alongside examining the disastrous decisions that impact the most vulnerable within our society, like the almost 10,000 homeless, the 400 people left waiting on hospital trolleys (26% increase from last year), coupled with the constant under-funding of support services for abuse victims, I can only conclude that we have a number of individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder in positions of power. No one who has the ability to feel empathy for another individual could stand by and not do something about this country’s current situation.
And not to repeat myself, but the biggest problem with a narcissist is their inability to have empathy. We must ask ourselves when terrible decisions are being made that impact all our lives, who has the most to gain from making those decision. What could possibly be behind those decisions if not self-serving greed and ambition. What if anything can we as individuals do to change it?
Paula – 24th August 2018