One thing we learn from history is that people do not learn from history. Every now and then, there is one world leader or two who is dangerously admired and has such a loyal and aggressive following. One of such historical atrocities is that of Adolf Hitler. His era was just about 100 years ago in the midst of all the talk about democracy, social justice, social inclusion and enlightenment. Yet, he pulled it off in what was the craftiest deception in modern history. The deadliest, nonetheless. Virtually everyone has heard of Adolf Hitler but many barely know about his personal life. Born of both Jewish and African descent, one would find it shocking that he was that brutal against other races. How did he develop the narcissistic disorder? To me, the secret lies in his upbringing.
In Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, “Mein Kamph”, he writes that he was afraid of his father and only loved his mother. The reason was simple. Hitler’s father was an angry man, always wanting to beat him whenever he brought his usual bad grades home. His mother, on the hand, was too protective of him and would boost his small ego. She was always there to baby him and tell him how amazing he was no matter how badly he behaved. Growing up, Hitler sang in the church choir and it was his dream to become a Catholic priest. He had even started preaching to the other children. There was a little glitter of hope that Adolf could turn well like a normal human being but he lost his younger brother when he was only 11.
His mother had lost two children in childbirth before giving birth to Adolf and Edmund. Edmund died of measles and was buried in a cemetery only across the street. One would find deeply depressed Adolf lying next to his brother’s grave deep into the night and talking aloud to him as if his brother could hear. Not being able to properly raise Adolf to take responsibility for himself, Adolf’s father died three years later. Adolf then convinced his mother and dropped out of high school. This woman seems to give Adolf whatever he asked for or wanted. As if it couldn’t get any worse, Adolf lost his mother four years after losing his father.
Being only 18 years, he took the hefty inheritance his parents left for retirement, travelled to Vienna and spent it prodigally in a year. Having lost everyone and everything, you’d think he would look for a job to fend for himself but no. Adolf wrote to his relatives and convinced one aunt to send him a monthly wage. Adolf never really worked a day in his life and was a NEET (Not participating in Education, Employment or Training). When asked why he won’t work, Adolf said one day he would be the greatest artist in the world. Yet, he was rejected when he applied to the Academy of Fine Arts to his utter surprise.
His mother had built his ego so much that he truly believed he deserved to have everything simply handed to him just because he existed. He joined the army and gave up his dream as an artist, which was clearly not going well. The army put discipline in his life but couldn’t save his ego. After World War 1, he was sent as a spy to the German Workers Party meeting. There he agreed with all the nonsense he heard; they blamed the Jews for Germany’s demise and wanted to make Germany great again. This party was the prelude into the national socialist workers’ party called the Nazis.
He joined the Nazi and the rest is history. Millions of people died simply because one man decided to take everything he could possibly get while convincing others to do. Adolf gave thousands of speeches that were full of hyperbole. Everything was “the greatest” and he made outlandish promises about the future of Nazi Germany. He established the Third Reich and claimed that it would be an empire that would last for 1000 years.
Narcissism is a personality disorder. Some of the many symptoms is an exaggerated sense of self-importance, sense of entitlement and the need for constant admiration. They see themselves as the best, the finest, the greatest and expect to be recognized as such without any achievements to warrant it. When they do achieve anything little, they exaggerate it alongside their talents. They are always preoccupied with success, power, brilliance, beauty and/or perfection. They want everything to be about them and relate themselves any little thing that becomes great. Even if they were uninvolved, they still attribute every passing achievement to themselves. Who does this paragraph remind you of? Donald Trump? Joseph Stalin? Kanye West? Madonna? Or you?
What about when something goes not very great? If they are not directly involved, they quickly disassociate themselves from such shortcomings. When they are directly involved, they never admit defeat. It was either they were cheated or another person is to blame. In their minds, everything about them must continue to be great and special and the best. Perhaps, that is why such people are easily nationalist, racist and/or sexist. Why? Because they believe everything about them is the greatest; their country, race, religion, culture, style, taste etc. and that all others are inferior to it.
Nobody can correct you when you’re wrong because you’re never wrong. Every wrong decision of yours was actually a masterful long-term strategy, apparently. When you’re right, you want everyone to know you’re right. You will make noise about it every now and then till you’re right the next time. When you are like this, people would naturally want you to fail so that you would shut up. Yet when you do fail, it’s either you make noise about it never being a failure but a master strategy or you blame others heavily for your demise or even worse, you never admit the failure. You are hypersensitive yet lack empathy, so you hurt others often without realising it.
Be great. Do great things. Think great. Reach for greatness. No one is stopping you but yourself. Nonetheless, stop yourself from being so consumed by the idea of greatness. Perhaps, you are confused and you may ask, “where do I draw the line?”. I will say; be confident, don’t be arrogant. Confidence inspires others to be as confident. Your energy uplifts people’s self-esteems whenever you flaunt your confidence. Arrogance, on the other hand, is only about yourself. Your self-image is so high that it thrives on inferiorizing someone or something. Your energy sparks negative emotions in others. Yet, you will barely notice others being negative because pride is attractive to the proud. Soon enough, all your friends flaunt that proud character and an “elite class” is established.
Well, it is easy to think you can never be like Jerry John Rawlings, who never admitted to any wrong he did Ghana and yet wanted June 4th and 31st December – the days he started a coup and overthrew the then governments – to be National holidays. One interview had him say that the democratic rule in Ghana started technically in 1981 and not in 1992. He went silent on the atrocities and killings he instigated till he died, not in any way admitting them. It’s easy to think you can’t even be like Joseph Stalin, who beat his own son mercilessly just because he wasn’t man enough in his sight. His son attempted suicide and survived the gunshot. When Stalin was told, he made fun of his son by saying that his son can’t even shoot straight. It is not beyond you. Watch your attitude. Watch your character. The world doesn’t need another local “Hitler”. Watch your steps lest you fall.
There’s no cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but therapy can help. Ironically, people with narcissistic personality with all the big egos have very low self-esteem. Having a high self-image, narcissists know they are narcissists and even believe in the importance of narcissism. Therapy for narcissism can take a long time, and progress may happen slowly. Understand when they’re making progress. You might notice some changes early on, such as attempts to control outbursts or avoid dishonesty or manipulation. But other behaviours, like anger in response to perceived criticism, may persist.
Is this the path you’re treading on? Is it difficult for people to approach you? Can you simply admit that you are wrong when you are? Do you always blame others for blemishes and never blame yourself in any given situation? We all know someone like that but the real question is, “is it you?”. Lord have mercy!