This book by David Thomas is essential reading not just for property investors but for everyone. Narcissism: Behind the Mask is a thorough and well-researched insight into a character trait that is at best harmful, at worst devastating.
What is a Narcissist?
A few quotes from the book:
“A narcissist must be in control, or at least must feel that he is in control, at all times.”
“Highly narcissistic people tend to be neurotic, paranoid and very, very envious.”
“Narcissists always have anger and aggression simmering just beneath the surface …“.
“… the narcissist operates behind a facade of respectability and altruism …”
“… it cannot be overstated how much people underestimate the ability of the narcissist to deceive.”
“… if the narcissist becomes aware that someone has seen through his facade, that person will then see his vindictive and malicious nature, as the narcissist will take whatever actions are necessary to protect the false image that he projects.”
In short, when you meet a narcissist, you are encountering a sugar-coated exterior that conceals a demon within.
On the surface, there is not a great deal of difference in the self-serving, survival-at-all-costs traits shared by both narcissist and psychopath, as I mentioned in the review of Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath. Like the psychopath searches for prey, the narcissist seeks an enabler, someone who they will ‘groom’ (for want of a better word) to become a co-dependent. That co-dependent henceforth becomes someone who backs up the narcissist on all the latter says and does, provides a source of support and (perhaps more importantly) admiration, and swallows without question all the cr*p fed to them.
The narcissist has an exceptionally high need for admiration. He or she needs to be top dog, living in the limelight, surrounded by fawning hoards who never question their actions, motives or background.
Here is the warning: the narcissist’s actions are entirely self-serving. Their fragile ego is to be upheld regardless of the cost to (supposed) loved ones, colleagues or businesses. Given the choice between ego and what is good for the business or others, ego wins hands down every time.
Why is this Important in Property?
Understanding how a narcissist works is essential for property investors because we are often in a position where we work with others on joint ventures or in a more formal capacity. Narcissists are exceptionally good at covering their tracks and may be drawn to people who have access to money, so read this book to find out what you should be looking for when doing your due diligence. Heck, make this book PART of your due diligence.
Alarm bells should ring if you cannot find out anything about the person you are researching. What are they hiding? Similarly, if all you can find is glossy “look at me, aren’t I wonderful?” literature, be on your guard. This character hides behind a charismatic, magnanimous and jovial mask.
If you doubt the seriousness of my comments, speak to anyone who has had dealings with a narcissist in either personal or professional life. They will be bearing bruises, feeling fragile and be carrying a much emptier wallet.
You have been warned.