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Narcissists And Dehumanization

Updated on March 24, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist, and a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders.

Dehumanization as a phenomenon is not new, nor is it exclusive to narcissism - although, you could argue that all abuse (including abuse of power) is narcissistic in nature. Dehumanization is exactly what it sounds like: a person or group of people is stripped of their human individuality and human qualities. This makes mistreating them easy to justify. Think back to the Nazi death camps. When people were asked about what took place, they said things like, "They were just Jews," or "They were just Gypsies," or "They were just Poles." This implies that they weren't actually people, so people didn't care. That is what dehumanizing human beings results in.

We have spoken at length about the way narcissists objectify people. That is, that they see people as objects. Dehumanizing generally occurs with objectification. It leads to abuse and oppression, both on a large scale and in interpersonal relationships. Pathologically narcissistic people objectify people as a matter of course; this is their method of relating to the rest of the world and dehumanization usually follows. This is because most pathologically narcissistic people lack empathy. Empathy is how we connect with other living things. When someone does not have empathy or when their empathy is affected or maladaptive, this connection does not occur. When we don't have a connection with others, it makes it easier to mistreat them because there is no understanding of their feelings.

Most people can stomp on a bug. There is no real connection with the bug. It is alien to our experience and it is too different to feel kinship or understanding with. Most people could not stomp a puppy to death, and this is for the same reason. Most of us feel a kinship and a connection to other mammals, and dogs in particular. We understand that dogs have feelings just like we do. This is empathy. Our presumption of the feelings of another living thing often has a lot to do with how much empathy we have. People often say things like, "Eating dogs is cruel, but eating chickens is not. They're just chickens. They don't have feelings." Again, we hear that word again: "just." This word implies that they are insignificant, or unimportant. The farther something is from our own experience, the less we identify with it. The assumption that the chicken does not have "real" or "higher level" feelings and therefore cannot suffer is directly related to how much empathy is felt for them and therefore how much compassion they are shown.

This is a false assumption, by the way. They suffer very much when treated inhumanely. So do pigs, cows, sheep, goats and all other animals. Every living thing suffers when abused and every living thing deserves compassion. For me personally, the way people treat animals is one of the ways I measure whether they are the type of person I want to asssociate with. Anyone who is cruel or uncaring toward animals is not someone I want to have anything to do with, and if someone I do associate with shows cruelty or a lack of care for animals, my opinion of them changes immediately. The way we treat the most innocent and voiceless in this world is the true measure of who we are.

So what we see then is that the kinship felt with another living thing and the assumption of whether something can suffer has a lot to do with empathy for most people. Pathologically narcissistic people are no different in that regard. Where they are different is that they do not feel this connection to other humans, either. There are people who can harm or even kill a person as easily as they can step on a bug. To them, there is no connection, no empathy and therefore, no difference. Your suffering does not matter because it does not even register. They may or may not have intellectual understanding of it, but there is no emotional understanding or connection with it at all. This is where the problem is.

This is how narcissistic people are able to objectify others. Because of how they function, there is no connection for them. Other people have uses and that's all. They are treated as things and that is their value. People who have no use have no value. Things that have no value are trash. When people are objectified, they are then dehumanized. They are treated with no understanding, no compassion, no decency. There is no appreciation or understanding for anything that makes them a person. They are robbed of all of their human qualities and simply treated as objects with no feelings.

Dehumanization results in abuse and oppression every time. Invalidation, dominance, control, gaslighting, discarding and more all occur because the individual is regarded as less than human and unfortunately, this is exactly how these things cause the victim to feel. This routine and continuous dismissing and disregarding of not just the victim's feelings and needs but of them as an actual person result in the victim feeling depressed, worn out, worthless and beaten down. The narcissist is sucking all of the person's energy and self-worth out and using it to prop up their own. This is the person's use, and when they are used up, they will likely be discarded like an empty soda can - and with the narcissistic person having no more problem doing so than you would throwing the same can away. Why would you keep it, right ? It's useless.

The results of objectification and dehumanization can be devastating. This how things like murder, slavery, genocide and many other horrible things happen. Dehumanization is a psychological and emotional justification to treat human beings like objects. When you say to the narcissist, "How can you treat me like this?" their answer usually involves either a flat out denial or some justification of how you deserve it. Put very simply, they don't get it and more importantly, they don't care. There is a missing linkage there, and barring a scientific breakthrough, this may never be able to be addressed.

If you are being dehumanized and objectified, you need to really understand that this is not only wrong, it's not sustainable. Even if you believe you can somehow take it, it will not last. Eventually you will come up empty. Everybody does. When that happens, there will be no more reason for the narcissistic person to continue on anymore in the situation and they will very likely leave. It's like a vampire. Some people have more vitality than others but everybody has a limit. Everybody becomes drained eventually. When that happens, the vampire simply moves on to feed on someone else. It's what they do.

Then what? All that for what? For nothing. Allowing someone to abuse you does not prove you care. It does not prove your loyalty and it isn't going to fix them. It does not prove anything except that your self-worth and self-esteem need work. These are things you can definitely address, but it is impossible to heal in the middle of ongoing abuse. Before you can do anything about this situation, you have to realize that the narcissistic person isn't the only one with the problem. Fixing them isn't going to fix you. Fixing you isn't going to fix them. You are two different people, and even though it seems hard to believe, neither person's problems have anything to do with each other.

You may feel beaten down and stuck, but if you are watching this video, you aren't totally beaten. You understand that there is a problem and you can see that the situation is wrong. You aren't totally stuck because you are still moving forward by gathering information and trying to understand. You still have self-worth because you know you are being treated badly and that you don't deserve it. People who truly have no self-worth don't think that. They believe they do deserve it. You just need to develop and nurture the things that are sparking that anger and sense of injustice. These are the tools you need to change your life.

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