The History Of Narcissism (Continued)

Image by S. Hermann / F. Richter from Pixabay

This is the second half of the story. The first half is here.

My father grew up in a Mongolian family of a half Mongolian village not far away from the Steppe. They would have preferred Mongolian style ranching if they had choices, but as time passed by, agriculture reined in the area and they transformed their land for agricultural uses. The problem was that they never developed agricultural skills themselves and had to hire farmhands to work on their farm. For the two hundred years before WWII, they had seen their land dwindled since they would sell their land whenever they faced financial troubles.

My father was born into this poor landed gentry family. He had two elder brothers, who were at least one foot taller than him. Whenever people asked my father about his height and compared him to his brothers, my father would always say that when he was growing up, he suffered from rickets and couldn’t get taller. However I’ve always wondered if this is true. I heard about my father’s dislike of his mother and his grandmother when he was in his unguarded moments; I heard about his attempts to flee home several times when he’s a teenager, but for lack of courage, he didn’t; I heard about his love and hate of his ancestral home. All these have been food for thoughts.

I suspect that due to the food shortage of WWII and its aftermath, my father’s mother, that is my grandmother, chose to feed her two elder sons, who she loved, and chose not to feed my father. Probably she even thought that my father would just die of hunger by himself. This sounds rather cruel from our modern perspective, but in the pre-modern era, this should have been a common thing. Motherhood was not just about raising children, but rather it was about choosing one or two to survive while letting others die, especially when food was in short supply. Just to think about it, this should have been a routine practice for tens of thousands of years, if not more. Mothers in those bad old days had no other choice.

At the time, they were living in their extended family compound as it was the tradition of the place. Extended family members usually lived together. I guess even if my grandmother stopped feeding my father, other members of the family might have taken pity on the weak unpromising boy and fed him whenever they could save a scrap of food. And by some miracle, my father survived and grew to be a physically normal but shorter human being. Although he looked normal physically, he was seriously damaged psychologically.

I can imagine that in order to gain his mother’s affection, my father fancied himself to be bigger, cleverer, more capable than he really was. In his developing childish mind, he thought if he’s a better human, his mother would love him. And this is how he obtained his self aggrandizement and self illusion. Unfortunately, my grandmother could only love the two big boys she had. The family’s fragile economy and her own limited capability only allowed her to pay attention to two of his boys, and my father didn’t make the cut. This was through no fault of his own, but as a child, my father didn’t understand what was happening to him.

Throughout his life, he always pretended to be somebody bigger and smarter. Other men did that too, but they knew when to back down and where to draw the line, but my father didn’t. He would assist his brothers and sisters financially in ways that’s completely out of line (according to my mother), just to show how generous he was. He would pretend that he knew a lot of science, ancient poem, chess, poker etc., but in reality he only knew those superficially. And I saw him arguing with a math teacher living in our neighborhood once. Although I was too young to understand what the argument was about, I instinctively guessed that my father was showing off his math “knowledge” while the math teacher didn’t agree with him.

When it’s time to get down to the gritty detail of everyday life with his own family, he was completely uninterested, bored, and emotionally distant. He had no glory, compliments, or acclaim to gain here. Actually the mundane daily life is the completely opposite of the illusion he had built for himself. The only thing he could do was to grab every opportunity to go on business trips, or one month training opportunity here and there. He eventually got himself into the mining engineer training corp, which was organized to send instructors to different coal mines to teach various engineering techniques. This job allowed him extensive traveling and he was absent from home most of the time.

Now you can see WWII and the damage it did to the world created my narcissistic family. Actually I think we are only one of the families. WWII created millions if not tens of millions of traumatized children, who grew up in the post-war era. These children didn’t get any psychological counseling to help them cope with reality. Many of these troubled children embraced the new world and the new order only because their traumatized past didn’t give them much support. And these children would eventually help generate wave after wave of modern day narcissism.

This is just my amateur opinion…

30 thoughts on “The History Of Narcissism (Continued)

    1. The damage of WWII is not restricted to the loss of so many innocent lives and atrocity did to all those people in the occupied areas. There were also a lot of psychological damage as well, which were hidden and obscured …


  1. I not only enjoyed your rumination on the tide of narcissism that ebbed, and flowed in both branches of your family, but also the comments that it engendered… to be able to step back, observe, and not become bitter is a worthy trait…!

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  2. Yes, in those days it was not unheard of that a mother would pick her favourite child or children and ignore the rest. I have heard that some women would go so far as to bury their new born children alive because they could not afford to raise them. Like your mother, it seems like your father was also a victim and that is what made him the way he was.

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    1. Yes, in those bad years when food was scarce, mothers had to make choices. If My father were a girl, he would probably be killed; however he’s a boy. Since there’s a deep superstition against killing baby boys, he got to live. My father’s brothers were so very very normal. They had no trace of narcissism like what my father had. There must be a big mistreatment of my father when he was young… yet my father didn’t understand what was happening to him and he lived to suffer from the trauma and bad consequences and narcissism…

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      1. Yes, in most Asian countries women are reluctant to kill baby boys. It’s so sad. And apparently most abortions are done to kill a female foetus.
        True, your father was probably treated quite differently from his siblings. That’s very sad and it’s awful that you had to deal with the consequences of all that.

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        1. Haha, thank you for your sweet acknowledgement. Soooo true. My father was very much damaged, but he also damaged his own family, his own relationship, his sister’s marriage, A narcissistic person is very toxic in a family environment, especially when people around this person are not aware of the danger and not aware of narcissism.

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        1. Me too. It is very much a materialized world. And being immigrants and outsiders and being disadvantaged in anyway will make people want to brag more since the very existence is being looked down upon.

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  3. Interesting supposition. War effected millions of people in different ways. We cannot begin to understand what it must have been like. My father, born in 1924, left school at 13, tried to join the army at 15 but was too young, was allowed to join the merchant marine shipping war supplies between England and Europe, finally joined the army when 18, shipped to France, then after the war went to Israel at the height of Israel’s push for a homeland and they hated the British…..that is what you call a misspent youth.

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    1. Your father was sooo brave. I can’t imagine being a young man in those days. What if I don’t like to be a soldier and still I have to become a soldier? In those days, probably people thought about life and death differently. And they misspent their life in their way, while we now misspend our life online…


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