Psychological Infrastructure of Arrogance

When we look at the dictionary meaning of the word arrogance, we see that it means arrogance, being superior to others, arrogance, self, pride. Another good example is given from Cemil Meriç, “If we give up arrogance, we will be cute.” saying. It seems that our arrogant side makes us cheesy. So, let’s start the theoretical research to see what is the reason why we are arrogant, what is at the root of the arrogant state. In psychology theories, arrogance has been used more in the sense of grandiosity, and I will continue my narrative over the concept of “grandism” in the rest of the article. Since grandiosity is one of the most basic manifestations of narcissism, let’s start by examining the theoretical explanations of narcissism.

From a psychoanalytic perspective, Freud talks about the concepts of primary narcissism and secondary narcissism in his article On Narcissism: An Introduction. For babies, there is no distinction between me and non-me, they do not yet have a relationship with the outside world, the only real thing for them is themselves and they perceive themselves as the center of the world. We can explain primary narcissism with the feelings of grandiosity, perfection, and power that arise when the infant directs all his libidinal investment in his own self. As the baby begins to recognize the external world and the objects that exist outside himself, he realizes that he is not in the perfection, completeness and omnipotence to meet his needs, and the libido is directed to external objects as an ego ideal. In other words, in primary narcissism, he is the one who is magnificent, but with the fracture he attributes this splendor to the other (mother, father, caregiver) and maintains his own splendor as a part of this splendor. The disappointment, dissatisfaction, inadequacy and deficiencies experienced in object relations and the process of directing the libidinal investment back to the self is called secondary narcissism.

Kohut, the founder of self psychology, added the concept of narcissistic personality disorder to the literature and evaluated narcissism as a developmental pause in a healthy developmental process. According to Kohut, the breakage that the child will experience, who is not adequately mirrored and supported by his parents, causes a developmental pause and the person needs to be noticed, appreciated and admired in every environment he enters. For example, the parent who approves and shares his enthusiasm when the child starts walking, also shares his pain when the child falls and heals him with his compassion. Here, the parent meets the child’s need for mirroring, and the child adapts to reality, realizing that it is not divine, omnipotent, and magnificent, with optimal breaks that it can digest. Disappointments that are more severe than the child can handle may have a traumatic effect on the child, may not be adequately mirrored, not understood, subjected to heavy criticism or ignored at all. In this case, the child may feel intense feelings of worthlessness and rejection. By over-satisfying and pampering the child’s needs without causing any disappointment, the child is led away from reality and the child may think that he has the right to everything, does not care about the feelings and needs of others, seeks intense attention, maintains his belief that he is perfect and cannot be in harmony with his environment.

It is suggested that narcissism is at least a two-dimensional structure that contains grandiose and fragile narcissism rather than a one-dimensional structure. At this point, if I talk about the point of view of the two dimensions of narcissism of schema therapy, which I am the implementer, it is stated that the schemas of righteousness/grandism, imperfection and emotional deprivation are at the root of narcissism. If I had to briefly explain what these schemes are; While permissive, non-limiting, over-indulgent and at the same time distant and indifferent parental attitudes pave the way for the development of the justification schema, the emotional deprivation schema arises when the child’s basic emotional needs such as attention, love, compassion, understanding, trust and protection are not met. The imperfection schema develops as a result of irrelevant, ignoring and overly critical parenting styles. According to the schema perspective, the appearance of the schemas may differ from each other because individuals with the same schemas cope with these schemas in different ways (submission, avoidance, overcompensation).

Arrogant narcissists often act by overcompensating their schemas of imperfection and emotional deprivation, in other words, revealing their idealized self-image that is strong and perfect, without emotional needs. In this respect, we can say that the arrogant behaviors caused by the schema of righteousness/grandism actually emerged to overcompensate the feelings of imperfection and emotional deprivation. In addition, the overly flattered, self-righteous child does not have the opportunity to meet his true potential and true self due to his inflated self, and they turn down those who feel lonely and worthless because they know that their permissive and pampering caregivers will not see and care about their emotional needs. For this reason, they prefer to surrender to their grandiose side. Fragile narcissists, on the other hand, often succumb to schemas of emotional deprivation and imperfection, feel ashamed of themselves and feel anxious, withdrawn, incomplete, and experience feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and emptiness because of their early unmet emotional needs. Although they have grandiose expectations, they deny these fantasies because they need approval from others to maintain their self-esteem. While the grandiose narcissistic personality reminds Aydın, the protagonist of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s movie “Winter Sleep” and his righteousness, judgment and seeing himself as perfect, Seniha character in Zeki Demirkubuz’s movie “Jealousy”, on the other hand, humiliates him by finding him flawed, unlovable, ugly. However, it evokes fragile narcissism with its distanced stance and devaluation from others.

So far, we have focused on the pathological side of narcissism, but we can talk about “healthy narcissism” when the narcissistic personality traits inherent in all of us do not always produce negative results and even contribute positively to our spiritual development and well-being. The most important features that distinguish healthy narcissism from pathological narcissism are; We can say that it is the person’s being in harmony with himself and his environment, having the capacity to act empathetically, recovering the negative feedback and criticism from the environment without harming his self-confidence and self-perception, and enabling him to act in accordance with his goals. Karen Horney defined pathological narcissism as an unrealistic self-inflation, distinguishing it from healthy narcissism, in other words, self-love and approval.

Finally, I would like to talk about my story when I started writing this article. Recently, I attended a training session on therapist empowering their “healthy adult” side. This time, we held the mirror we held to the clients to ourselves and looked at our own modes. According to the mode approach of schema therapy, mods can be defined as our sides that emerge and change instantly. One of these modes, the grandiose mode, made me think a lot during the training. How much do I have, where does it show up, actually it’s not that bad, it has good sides, I wonder how it looks from the outside, I wondered very quickly, and then I thought about it for a long time. So much so that I more or less guessed that I could avoid thinking about my grandiose mode and facing it alone. The next day, I received an offer to write about arrogance, and I started writing this article, saying that it is obviously time to understand, recognize and transform, not avoid. Before guiding the client to recognize and recognize the client’s modes, and to strengthen the “healthy adult” side that can virtually manage them, it is expected that he can sew his own rip, accept or transform it as it is, knowing where it is ripped, even if he can’t sew it exactly. For this reason, it is very important for the therapist to go through his own process. According to the mod approach, the grandiose mode comes into play in order to prevent the painful feelings felt by the “lonely child” mode in narcissistic people, and how loud the grandiose mode is and how much it affects our lives and relationships is the point that needs to be emphasized here. Because this point shows where we stand between the healthy and the pathological. Narcissism is translated as “self-love” in our language, while we can actually attribute positive meanings to the person’s self-love; Being narcissistic, arrogant, and arrogance evoke negative situations that we do not want to belong to us. While it is healthy to love and admire yourself, to be proud of your achievements, to prioritize your own happiness, and to show self-compassion, sometimes our “critical parent” mode comes into play and can make us think that these make us arrogant and self-righteous. With our sudden mood changes, the way we interpret situations, events and the meanings we attribute can also change. We can withhold care, understanding, kindness, love, and approval from ourselves so that others do not have negative opinions about us and we do not get criticized. However, these are all our basic emotional needs that our “healthy adult” side takes action to meet and does not withhold from us, and whenever I hear the “critical parent” voice, I gradually learn to turn my ear to the “healthy adult” and its wisdom.

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