I’ve had experience with only one narcissist (before I understood much about the condition). He was my subordinate in the Navy. He was a hard worker, always looked good and was very intelligent…but he and I butted heads on any occasion where I even suggested he might be mistaken. As time went on, he tried to ruin my career (he wasn’t successful, thank God), but wound up losing his own career due to his own misconduct off base (which he always maintained was not his fault — the other people were just out to get him).

But what really got my attention was on the day he was discharged, I walked up to him to wish him well (which is expected of those in charge), but he reached out to me with what seemed the sincerest of smiles to wish me well…as if he’d never tried to ruin my career and the livelihood I provided for my wife and children.

It took a long time for me to realize that when he was trying to end my career, he wasn’t doing it out of malice. I was just someone in his way — it was nothing personal to him, and so (I believe) he never comprehended how anyone might be offended by what he did to them. There are — as I understand it — different types of narcissists. Some are malignant (yes, I’ll stay out of politics here), and some are not. He was one of the latter.

Strangely enough, realizing all that enabled me to not just forgive, but also to pity him.

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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