I think a core piece of narcissism is the narcissistic power trip.
Very simply, I define a narcissistic power trip as “the power to define other(s) and act on that definition.”
It is narcissistic because the narcissist defines others based on self-centered criteria and acts on that definition either with excessive cruelty or callous disregard. Or excessive “kindness,” rewarding the defined person based on their “supplying” the narcissist with what they want (praise, adulation, attention, etc.).
Before I go into more detail, let me say that I believe an important foundation of social and psychological understanding must be the understanding that pretty much all human behaviors exist on a spectrum that encompasses all people and all societies everywhere.
For example, using the definition of narcissism above, we should be able to say that all people and all societies define others. A narcissist is characterized by the degree to which they do this.
A glaring example of this is the NKVD Bolshevik officer who daily interrogated people who had been arrested for “offenses against the state.” This officer would have demanded a signed confession from his victim after which they would personally have shot the victim in the back of their head.
This process could have lasted a few minutes, several hours, or even many days. It always involved psychological torture and frequently involved physical torture.
It is narcissistic sociologically because the real reason for it was to terrorize the population while removing potential enemies. It is narcissistic psychologically for the individual Bolshevik officer because that officer knew the sociological reasons for what they were doing. There is no doubt in my mind that a great many of those officers derived narcissistic pleasure from the power they held over their victims. In those days it was said you were drafted into the Red Army but you had to volunteer to join the secret police.
A minor example of a narcissistic power trip comes from someone I know. He is alcoholic and as with so many alcoholics also exhibits narcissistic traits. What happened was he asked a woman out on a date and she refused, so he slit her tires. Most people when rejected feel bad, maybe they will cuss out the person in their own mind, but only a narcissist will act vengefully on their definition of the other.
It is very important to recognize that narcissism is defined by the person going too far, by their being on a power trip. Just imagine psychologically torturing a frightened prisoner, knowing that you are going to kill them with your own hand once you have played with them long enough to satisfy your narcissistic rage. That really happened many times and not just in the Soviet Union. It was a defining feature of communism almost everywhere it was practiced.
Complex system are defined as systems with a lot of factors any one of which, no matter how small, can affect the entire system. Our minds are complex systems.
In this respect, notice that FIML practice focuses especially on small details to prevent partners from forming false impressions of each other or the world around them.
By removing false impressions or interpretations from our minds, we avoid many problems, not least of which is the narcissistic power trip.