I just wanted to highlight that a commenter highlighted this picture of Paddock’s father, exhibiting the narcissist posture I had discussed seeing in Alec Baldwin here:
That is it. It has to be viewed in two ways. First situationally. A guy in that position could be forgiven for exhibiting that broken posture, given he is now looking at life in prison, and an established reputation as a criminal. The key is a narcissist will exhibit that posture in inappropriate situations. He’ll exhibit it at a friend’s wedding, because he feels like a loser since he is not the center of attention. He’ll exhibit it at his son’s graduation, because he can’t stand seeing his son as the center of attention. He’ll exhibit at a party, where everyone is happy, because narcissists just hate seeing everyone happy.
The second way it needs to be examined is in degree. When someone who never exhibits this posture assumes it temporarily, their muscles and joints have not adapted to exhibit it, so the exhibition of it will be attenuated. When a character spends an inordinate amount of time in it however, their muscles and joints adapt increased flexibility and ability to exhibit the posture, so the body naturally will fall into an exaggerated form of it. The shot of Paddock’s father in profile is this posture to its maximal degree.
What is interesting to me is Paddock’s father was a conman, in addition to a bank robber. I am convinced conmen, by and large, are narcissists who are extremely insecure about their intelligence, and it is that insecurity which not only makes them able to be conmen, but which drives them to it.
If I had to be a conman with you, if my life depended on fooling you, and if I failed I was going to prison, I would feel immense angst. Every casual squint you made would trigger me, and make me wonder if it was suspicion. Every question you raised would freak me out, because I would fear you had realized. In essence, I would be on edge, afraid you would uncover the con, and I would have to endure the shame and the horror of being uncovered as a scumbag, and then endure the loss of freedom of imprisonment. That amygdala, at the thought of exposure would keep me from ever wanting to be a conman.
But if I had narcissist-level insecurity about my intellect, my entire amygdala would shift. Now, I feel the angst by default, if I do nothing. If I do nothing, you are this snotty genius, delighted to humiliate me by simply enjoying your intellect, and I am an idiot, far beneath you in intelligence. It is unbearable, so I have to do something. Now, fooling you offers the prospect of relief. If I tell a lie, and you begin to buy it, I am exhilarated. Maybe I am not an idiot – maybe it is you who is the idiot. Your squint is just motivation to enlarge the lie. Your question just needs a rebuttal. Suddenly the con is not amygdala-triggering, it is amygdala-relieving.
The bigger the lie, the better. I am a Rockefeller, with some royal blood from French Aristocracy. I was in the astronaut training program. It was after my days in the Israeli Special Forces. Six Day War? I was in the Fifteen Day War. It was a huge covert operation. Eyes only stuff, so you never heard about it. Almost got Arafat, the sneaky bastard slipped our net. We thought he was on the shitter, but it turned out there was a secret door under the bathtub leading to a tunnel. That was where I realized I wanted to go into finance, and invest other people’s money.
As you politely listen, I am amazed you never call me out on it, but that amazement quickly turns to exhilaration as the insecurity that defines me evaporates at last. Each lie is another relief, and that conditions and reinforces the behavior. Like a junkie, I push the envelope to get even more relief. When I finally get you to give me money to invest, it is tangible proof you are an idiot, and I am smarter than you. Suddenly I almost feel normal.
When you see Paddock’s father above, that is the narcissist, reduced to confronting the reality, which for them is that they are actually idiots. Ironically, it is often the need to prove they are smarter, which drives them to the idiotic behavior.
Regardless, that is a man who has lived his whole life in that posture. Whenever I see it, I know what it means, and I stay the hell away from it.