Artem Bali

Most of you probably made your way here via my most-read articles,
Capitalism Has Failed, and Jay-Z’s Streaming Scandal Is Proof and The Difficulty in Defining Donald Glover’s “This is America.” These were among the first pieces I wrote, and I was lucky enough to have Medium’s editors select them to be Member Feature Stories.

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Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Narcissists wear alternating masks that project a false self-image to the world. They know they’re lacking. Their grandiosity is overcompensation. They believe extremes about themselves (that they’re completely worthless and the most special people in the world) at the same time. They live in a state of profound, unrelenting cognitive dissonance. A feature of this cognitive dissonance is intense paranoia that often masquerades as “smarts.” They’re terrified of being found out to be frauds. They’re constantly on the lookout for “haters” (shorthand for anyone who sees through their façade and doesn’t play along with it). Something you’ll hear targets say…


A young Black man on the right in the foreground is shirtless and wearing overalls with one shoulder off. On the left in the the background, a Black man with dreadlocks and wearing khaki coveralls is looking at him enviously.
A young Black man on the right in the foreground is shirtless and wearing overalls with one shoulder off. On the left in the the background, a Black man with dreadlocks and wearing khaki coveralls is looking at him enviously.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Narcissists are constantly demanding attention for how “special” they are. This dysfunction stems, in part, from the bottom-scraping self-worth they are trying to mask. Other people receiving praise (particularly for what the narcissist wants to be told is special about them) triggers feelings of deep envy and self-loathing in narcissists. Narcissists want the accolades for themselves, and they target people with gifts and qualities they envy to try to co-opt them. In a way, narcissists try to steal their targets’ personalities. That’s impossible, though, so narcissists always damage and sometimes destroy what they covet when they try to perform what…


Day Seven: Love

By Kitanya Harrison, writing as Harrison Kitteridge

Sherlock ignored the protestations of the director and bullied his way into the police investigation.


Scrabble tiles arranged to read “Courage does not always roar”
Scrabble tiles arranged to read “Courage does not always roar”
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Narcissists are paranoid. They lack self-awareness, but they know they’re running a con on their targets and fear discovery. They also know their targets want more for themselves. That’s why isolation is such an important part of their plans. Emotionally intelligent, confident people expose narcissists through contrast just by existing and living their lives well. Narcissists have to limit their targets’ exposure to them and blunt those qualities in their targets. It’s why, even when they try to mask it, bullying to induce insecurity is the narcissist’s go-to move.


Photo by Tamara Gak on Unsplash

Forced teaming is a manipulation tactic frequently used by con artists to conjure up a “we” that doesn’t exist and create obligations. They “team up” with strangers as they help them with something minor to establish trust. For example, “We’ve got to get these groceries to your car!” For long cons, they may ramp things up to “best friends,” “soulmates,” or “family” to create more powerful obligations. Narcissists also employ these tactics. How quickly the bonds develop is a red flag. Be wary of anyone who wants to be the most important person in your life immediately. Don’t dismiss the…


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

We need other people. Community and cooperation are the bedrock of civilization. On an individual level, feeling loved and supported is better for your mental and emotional health than feeling cast aside. In the tarot, the Four of Wands represents togetherness and the celebrations around it. Traditional illustrations of the card show a couple under a garlanded canopy supported by four wands. While the Four of Wands generally indicates family and community, it is also considered one of the marriage cards of the tarot. When it turns up in a love reading, it often symbolizes a stable, harmonious, long-term relationship…


Day Six: Hair

By Kitanya Harrison, writing as Harrison Kitteridge

Cover of Before Holmes Met Watson — a raven on a red background with white lettering.
Cover of Before Holmes Met Watson — a raven on a red background with white lettering.

Vanity was an unbecoming quality in an army captain, but John Watson was his father’s son. His family had been solidly middle-class — not struggling, but definitely not possessed of enough disposable income to indulge in luxurious frivolities. Nevertheless, a few times a year, his father would go into London for a monstrously expensive haircut and straight-razor shave at the club of a university friend. When John turned sixteen, his father asked if he would like to come along. …


Two black on yellow “No Trespassing” signs
Two black on yellow “No Trespassing” signs
Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Boundaries scuttle narcissists’ plans. That’s why they like to target people who are co-operative and kind. Conscientiousness — not wanting to hurt other people’s feelings — is a wonderful trait narcissists weaponize against their targets. Whenever a target doesn’t do exactly what the narcissist wants, no matter how unreasonable the demand, it’s framed as hurtful and abusive. The assault on reasonableness begins early in the relationship with love bombing and rushed intimacy. Narcissists often present themselves as the only person who truly understands the target — as a kindred spirit or soulmate. The target will share information about themselves they’re…


Photo of the torso of a man in a suit holding a bouquet of flowers.
Photo of the torso of a man in a suit holding a bouquet of flowers.
Photo by Dương Trí on Unsplash

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about why Ted Bundy keeps turning up like a bad pop culture penny, and why there is always an almost rehabilitative narrative around the winning charms of a necrophiliac serial killer. It’s to do with how handsome and charming other white men found him. Even the judge at his trial got stars in his eyes. Was Bundy really charming, or was his grandiosity reflecting other men’s unearned confidence back to them? Were the ruses he used to lure the women he killed (including pretending to be injured to appeal to their…

Kitanya Harrison

*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: books2read.com/u/mBOYNv | IG: kitanyaharrison

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