I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of control freaks in this world: those who prize self-control and those who try to control others. I fall in the former category. I often fall short of the mark, but I consider myself a self-improvement work in progress. I may drive myself crazy, but I seldom visit my own obsessions onto others or, if I do so, it only tangentially affects them.
And then there are those who live to exercise control over others. These people go beyond merely being bossy. Their sense of self is defined by their ability to bend others to their will. Whether polite or crude, they are bullies. I’ve worked and lived with people in this latter category, and I can tell you a lot about them.
The primary characteristic they all share is that they fall neatly within the clinical definition of a narcissist:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
- has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- requires excessive admiration
- has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
- shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
It is also a requirement of DSM-IV that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.
I’ve long suspected, having dealt with narcissists, that many of their control issues arise because of their own sense that they are out of control. Because they have no inner sense of self, they have no strong internal guides to help them understand what to do or say in a given situation. By forcefully controlling those around them, they create a reality in which their behavior is normative. He’s not a bully; his wife has just been forcefully directed into being appropriately submissive. She’s not arrogant; it’s just that everyone has been sufficiently cowed into respecting her wonderfulness. Other people aren’t humans with feelings. Instead, they are chess pieces the narcissist moves around to feed his grandiosity, fill his emptiness, and put him at the center of a universe in which his behavior is appropriate, and everyone else can be derided as pathetic, abnormal and inferior.
In the paragraphs above, I’ve described individuals, but it occurs to me that the entire Islamic faith, when taken to its logical extremes (as so many individuals and nations do), is a religion of complete narcissism. Just look at the 10 steps of narcissism as set out in the DSM-IV, and watch how beautifully the same factors mesh with Islam:
1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) — We are routinely told that Islam is the one and only religion before which all nations and people must eventually bow. There is no room for pluralism in Islam. Islam seeks its rightful place of world dominance.
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love — See above. Despite the fact that the nations that are predominantly Muslim are usually Third World nations, with only a few raised above that heap through the wonders of oil money, Islamists are certain that they represent the perfect fulfillment of human destiny, and that others will be grateful for the bomb, sword or WMD that bring them within the fold.
3. believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) — Ditto.
4. requires excessive admiration — Islam is the only modern religion that prohibits any criticism. We’ve seen this played out time and time again. The first time the Western world became aware of this trait was when the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie. We managed to forget about that until the Danish cartoons made us aware, again, that Islam cannot be criticized. And of course, the UN, with the Obami’s complicity, is moving towards enacting a proposal that forbids the denigration of any religion. We know, of course, that means that the UN will act to suppress any anti-Islamic speech around the world. Anti-anything else speech will be conveniently ignored, with antisemitic speech continuing to be wildly encouraged.
5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations — If there’s one thing we’ve seen over and over again in the past few years, it’s the endless demands from Islamists, demands that are aimed at elevating that faith, and its practitioners, above all others. Taxi drivers refusing to take people carrying alcohol; universities pressured to remodel their bathrooms and pray rooms; nations (that would be England) urged to rejigger their “offensive” national flags; pigs, including Piglet and other pig images, forced out of the public eye; ice cream containers redacted. The list of demands is endless. And lest you think that these demands are appropriate in a religiously tolerant culture, I’d like you to give me examples of other non-dominant religions that make the similar demands on the majority culture.
6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends — One word: Iran.
7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others — I really don’t know quite how to write about this as a separate category of Islamic behavior. The fact that Islam has absolutely no room for other faiths, however, and it’s fanatic desire to destroy all other cultures, is itself indicative of any sense of empathy. Multiculturalism, of course, has become a sickness in the opposite direction, with the western world so empathetic to other cultures that it’s learned to loath its own.
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her — One phrase: 9/11
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes — I think being called dogs, swine, pigs, apes, apostates, etc., is pretty much evidence of arrogance on the part of the Islamists.
The one other aspect of Islam that, to me, is the dead giveaway that it is a control freak, narcissist religion, is its attitude towards women. Islam doesn’t hate women, as so many believe. It fears women. Women have the ability to destroy a man’s self-control, which is anathema to the control-freak narcissist. He wants to be in charge. He wants to manipulate. He wants to dominate and direct. But when a woman enters the picture, he fears that his intense response to her sexuality will destroy his fragile self control. He will be a slave to his passions. And, because he is a narcissist, instead of controlling his passions, the Islamist seeks to control the threat:
Islam doesn’t attack sexuality in itself, but rather women’s potential for exercising total power over men. In Islam, sexuality is seen to have three main positive aspects: the human sexual drive ensures reproduction; it produces intellectual energy; and the sexual act itself provides the man with a foretaste of what he will experience in paradise – the eternal orgasm. On earth, however, man’s most important task is devotion to Allah. Therefore, love between man and wife is viewed as an enemy of Muslim society. Marital love can disturb the husband’s attachment to Allah.
In the view of the Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the notion of man as an almost notoriously sexual animal, a beast who will throw himself at any woman who is not “decently” covered in public, is essential to an understanding the stagnation of the Muslim world and of the immense problems with integrating Muslims in Europe. As Hirsi Ali points out, Islam places all sexual morality on the woman’s shoulders. From a very early age, she notes, girls are viewed with suspicion and learn that they are untrustworthy creatures who represent a potential danger to their extended families – for there is, in them, something that makes men lose their minds.
The most extreme form of biological sexual control of women is genital mutilation. Many people claim that genital mutilation has nothing to do with Islam. This is untrue. Muhammad issued a blanket prohibition against eating pork. But he did not forbid genital mutilation. Instead he encouraged his followers not to perform the most radical form of mutilation, telling them in his sunna not to “overdo it.” Thus we have the practice known as “sunna circumcision.” Today, Muhammad’s statements continue to be cited in support of the tradition. According to the shafi school of Islamic law, which is followed by Somalis (among others), it is an obligation to “circumcise” girls. This rule, naturally, has consequences for Muslim girls throughout the Western world today.
Whether one is talking about the individual wife-beating bully, who compensates for the emptiness in side by controlling and destroying those around him, or the entire extreme end of the Islamic faith, which compensates for its sense of inadequacy (since it is, after all, nothing more than a derivative, desert religion) by seeking to control and destroy the non-Muslim world (and all of the women in it), the patterns are identical, aren’t they? Depressing too.
And what’s even more depressing is that, as with other personality disorders, narcissism is almost impossible to treat. Because it’s a behavior that is comprised entirely of defensive protection (a defensiveness that often leads to aggressive acts), the narcissist cannot be convinced that change is necessary. Every correction is met with a huge outburst of hostility and even more attempts at outer-directed control. Only when the narcissist hits rock bottom, when all the defensive behaviors collapse (as happens when the substance-abusing narcissist is destroyed by his addictions), will the narcissist contemplate changed behaviors.
If we could take away the props that give the Islamic world the illusion of power through which it can exercise its need for control, we would have a much better ability to correct its most extreme and destructive behaviors. And of course, the prop upon which it most relies, is oil money. To allow drilling on American land would devastate the Islamist’s sense of and drive for dominance, since Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s theocratic governments, which are almost entirely funded by the West, would collapse.