It's extremely difficult for a person raised in a family of 'fake' mitzvahs to get past that external covering, and to really discover the amazing spiritual beauty and meaning of thanking G-d for giving us food and a livelihood, for example, (especially when you can't get the 'tune' out of your head.)
The overriding preoccupation for Jewish narcissists (and all narcissists) is 'how does it look?' By contrast, a non-narcissist Jewish soul is attracted to matters of the spirit; how does it feel?
Another key indication that you're dealing with a Jewish narcissist - however 'religious' or otherwise they may be - is that nothing ever changes on the inside (although the outside often changes dramatically overnight, because it's all pretend). The Jewish soul is an amazing creation; it's a part of Hashem, and each individual soul contains a mind-boggling infinite ability to grow, develop, shine and help build the world.
Perhaps one of the most dangerous ways that Jewish narcissists can pull other Jews away from G-d, and away from their own true missions in life, is by creating a society, a family, an atmosphere, a community where nothing genuinely ever changes.
They'll tolerate a little bit of spiritual 'progress' - depending on the community, you'll be allowed to swap your wig for a headscarf; or to pick a different hotel for your Pesach break or Summer vacation, for example - but Jewish narcissists HATE change, particularly inner change that makes people more authentically 'them' and subsequently more attached to G-d.
Again, this comes through very clearly in the secular literature on narcissists. Take this, Joanne Mashmun's site on narcissism:
"Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a pattern of self-centred or egotistical behaviour that shows up in thinking and behaviour in a lot of different situations and activities. People with NPD won't (or can't) change their behaviour even when it causes problems at work or when other people complain about the way they act, or when their behaviour causes a lot of emotional distress to others."
And this: "[because] a prime characteristic of narcissists is believing that they are always right no matter what, narcissists are extremely resistant to change and, unfortunately, tend to get worse as they get older."
And this: "A striking thing about narcissists that you'll notice if you know them for a long time is that their ideas of themselves and the world don't change with experience; the ones I've known have been stalled at a vision that came to them by the age of 16."
Jewish narcissists hate internal change, because they can't or won't change themselves. You have to admit you're wrong, at least occasionally, in order to make sincere teshuva, and to grow and to change, and this is something that narcissists can't do. (Again, take heart: this can change once you know what's really causing the problem, and we'll come on to that in the next series of posts).
When other people change or grow, it's a massive threat to the narcissist's view of themselves as being 'perfect' as is, and also challenges their perception of being religiously or morally superior to others.
This is a key reason why Jewish narcissists often try to equate sincere spiritual change with religious extremism, or will mock your efforts at improving as being worthless, lacking, or somehow not good enough. They'll make it clear that anyone who tries going beyond the fixed boundaries of 'normal' and 'reasonable' and 'acceptable' (of course, these boundaries are completely subjective, and 'fixed' by the Jewish narcissist themselves) are either crazy, or dangerous, or a 'religious extremist'.
Another, more subtle, tactic used by Jewish narcissists to big themselves up at other people's expense can occur when the narcissist sets impossibly high moral and religious standards, and then gives the (untruthful) impression that they themselves are really holding at that level, enabling them to freely criticise you when you can't seem to keep up with them.
As always, the best way to get to the truth is to ask the narcissist for specific details about how they vanquished their demons or overcame that particular problem: they normally can't do it, because a) they're lying and b) they can't bring themselves to admit they ever actually had a problem or issue in the first place.
Rav Dessler tells us that you need to be an extremist to serve G-d - which very neatly sums up the dilemma: If a person is sincerely serving G-d, they can and do change, often very radically. If they are living in an environment where change is equated to 'religious fanaticism', or where their attempts to change are openly mocked, or criticised for never being good enough, then the price of change (at least socially and emotionally) suddenly gets much, much higher.
It takes a strong person indeed to follow their soul towards truth and G-d, if it means being ostracised and / or criticised and/or blamed and / or mocked by their social group, family members, and / or rabbi.
If a healthy Jewish soul opts to 'stay the same', they start suffocating spiritually, and usually lose all their joie de vivre, energy, optimism and excitement about life (but at least they'll have that in common with all their friends).
If they change, they'll gain vitality, strength and somewhere down the road, tremendous joy. But the short-term consequences can be horrendously painful: they can literally lose their whole circle of 'friends' overnight, and experience enormous, soul-wrenching issues with their narcissistic family members, religious authorities and social group.
Little wonder that so many sincere Jews are holding themselves back from true teshuva and living authentically. Little wonder that so few people actually want to look the truth about the people in our midst with personality disorders in the face. But with Moshiach around the corner, we have to change, and we have to break through all the lies, in order to make it into the world of truth.
In the next series of posts, we're going to start exploring what we can do to solve the problem, because with God's help, there's a lot of things we can do to start changing things around, and to help everyone that's being affected and hurt by personality disorders - including the personality disordered individuals themselves - to begin to heal.