Some narcissists are ostentatiously generous - they donate to charity, lavish gifts on their closest, abundantly provide for their nearest and dearest, and, in general, are open-handed and unstintingly benevolent. How can this be reconciled with the pronounced lack of empathy and with the pernicious self-preoccupation that is so typical of narcissists? The act of giving enhances the narcissist's sense of omnipotence, his fantastic grandiosity, and the contempt he holds for others. It is easy to feel superior to the supplicating recipients of one's largesse. Narcissistic altruism is about exerting control and maintaining it by fostering dependence in the beneficiaries. The narcissist flaunts his charitable nature as a bait. He impresses others with his selflessness and kindness and thus lures them into his lair, entraps them, and manipulates and brainwashes them into subservient compliance and obsequious collaboration. People are attracted to the narcissist's larger than life posture - only to discover his true personality traits when it is far too late. This does not prevent the narcissist from assuming the role of the exploited victim. Narcissists always complain that life and people are unfair to them and that they invest far more than their "share of the profit".
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A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The condition is often confused with asociality. Gustave Flaubert once declared that he would "die of suppressed rage at the folly of [his] fellow men. Poet Philip Larkin has been described as a misanthrope. Michelangelo has been called a misanthrope. The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus was by various accounts a misanthrope and a loner who had little patience for human society. In Western philosophy, misanthropy has been connected to isolation from human society.
Caveat Reader: This is 4 in a series about what our philanthropy field might offer in the current political context. Charity shows that we care for our fellow human beings, especially those who are in need. And to be sure, need comes in many forms: health, welfare, hunger, physical safety to mention some basics. Every society, every society, has a form of charity since it is unthinkable for the vast majority of us that we willfully allow those in our midst to suffer. Indeed, the first stage of philanthropy is typically compassion. We see a homeless person, we volunteer at a soup kitchen, we know family who have a life-threatening disease. It touches us deeply and we choose to volunteer or give money or advocate for better services.
A misanthrope dislikes the human race and avoids human society as far as possible. Misanthrope is from the classical Greek misanthropos. It shares with misogyny and a few other words a beginning from misein , to hate. The second part is from anthropos , a human being, which we also have in words such as anthropology. From the same source, philanthropy is the opposite of misanthropy, literally a love of mankind that expresses itself in active efforts to help other people.