Shame is a primary painful feeling and bodily sensation of not being good enough, falling short, experiencing humiliation. Most of us carry some shame with us. Shame is a basic emotion that begins early in life. Some children are continuously shamed by their parent(s). The child who is frequently shamed and humiliated, feels helpless and worthless inside. He wants to disappear into the woodwork and hide from everyone. When we see a child who has been severely shamed, his eyes are cast downward. He is unable to meet our gaze. He feels so small, he wishes he didn’t exist. Feelings of shame block positive human experiences like joy, humor and hopefulness. Extreme shame can keep an individual from developing close relationships with others and from enjoying life itself.
The narcissist has the opposite problem. He or she is shameless. There is nothing that disrupts the narcissist’s persistent bold moves to get and have what he wants. The narcissist sees no red or amber lights ahead to make him stop or slow down. He moves at full speed toward his goal. Whether it is a lucrative business arrangement or a prospective romantic partner or spouse, the narcissist lunges ahead with extreme self entitlement, feelings of superiority and an iron will that cannot be deterred. Besides his shamelessness, the narcissist never developed much of a conscience. He will usually tow the line legally because getting caught is not an option. He cares deeply about his polished image so he is motivated to remain publicly discreet about his unscrupulous dealings.
Narcissists become particularly shameless during a divorce. They accuse the other spouse of neglecting the children when the reverse is true. They hide their assets long before the formal divorce proceedings begin. They lie about their net worth so they don’t have to part with alimony or child support. Some narcissists, both male and female, abandon their families all together and start new lives with more attractive, adoring and compliant partners. Leaving the previous spouse and children in a state of financial and psychological chaos is of no consequence to them. Many narcissists repeat these egregious patterns of behavior throughout their lives without shame or regret.
Narcissists often escalate their brazen behaviors. After all, the high functioning narcissist is treated with extreme adulation and praise. He is encircled by a loyal group of admirers who provide him with a continuous cascade of compliments and special treatment. As they glide through life, many narcissists become more heartless as they grab for more. They are never satisfied with what they have. The hunger begins anew and they reach for a higher mountain of material largess and self aggrandisement. As their outrageous cruelties multiply, narcissists become even more shameless. Their raw hubris and feelings of godlike power cannot be overstated.