Our reactions with each other have extensive biological impact, spreading cascades of hormones that regulate everything from our hearts to our immune systems, making good relationships act like vitamins – and bad relationships like poisons. We can “catch” other people’s emotions the way we catch a cold, and the consequences of isolation or relentless social stress can be life-shortening.
Daniel Goleman, who authored “Social Intelligence” explains the surprising accuracy of first impressions, the basis of charisma and emotional power, the complexity of sexual attraction, and how we detect lies. He describes the “dark side” of social intelligence, including narcissism. I want to further explore this “dark side’ by comparing and contrasting Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) .
Emotional Intelligence (EI) has several facets, which are grounded in our:
NPD symptoms are as follows:
Narcissism leads to breakdowns in relationships. This doesn’t surprise me. Compare and contrast the two lists above. The first facet of EI is possessing self-knowledge which the NPD’s vision of himself doesn’t match his true self (grandiose/exaggeration, believes special/unique). The second facet of EI is being empathetic, and the NPD exhibits very little, if not any, empathy toward others. The third facet of EI is likeability, which may be the only facet that the NPD may be able to pull off for a short period of time. Narcissists tend to be likeable, friendly and easy to get on with; often they are fun to be with. But it is all a sham – in reality they are only behaving like this in order to get your attention and fuel their addiction for being seen as wonderful. The last facet of EI is the ability to connect people and ideas, which the NPD possess a kind of street-smart EI. They are acutely aware of whether people are with them wholeheartedly and know who they can use and can be brutally exploitative
Most of us have dealt with narcissists in the workplace, home, or social settings. When we interact with a narcissistic individual, there’s no real relating going on. It’s all about one person. There’s an absence of empathetic exchange and mutuality, two prerequisites for healthy and rewarding relationships. Research evidence (Student Research in Psychology at Southeast Missouri State University was found that those with higher levels of NPD symptomatically described themselves as lacking emotional control and emotional repair, and as being emotional preoccupied and concerned with the public impression of their emotional experiences. These results clearly indicate that people with NPD need to overcome several deficiencies in their emotional functioning.
In regard to the four constructs of EI, the following is a discussion of my Dad’s behavior in comparison:
Further with relationship management, my Dad inflicted great emotional distress on my brother and me when he engaged in tactics to alienate us from our mother.
In each of these constructs, my Dad shows deficiency in how he conducts his emotions. My Dad being an overt manipulative narcissist with an apparent low EI mirrors the results of many studies evaluating the EI of NPD’s. Given the definition of NPD (“a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy”), a low EI is only a natural bi-product of the disorder. How can an individual with a skewed sense of self, constant need for emotional reassurances, and lacking in the ability to put one’s self into someone else’s shoes have a high emotional intelligence? Having an emotionally unstable Dad for decades has made for an unstable relationship, one that has been severely strained from conditional love, criticisms, judgments, and careless treatment. One can conclude the the narcissist is deficient in several areas of the Emotional Intelligence framework. The deficiency, in turn, leads to mistreatment of relationships, whether personal, casual, or professional.