narcissistically craven and damaged people in any society

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Society should do a systematic deal with capitalists. It should give them the honor and love they so badly crave in exchange for treating their workers as human beings — not abusing customers and properly looking after the planet. The prestige should be enormous, a bit like winning the Nobel Prize, the Victoria Cross or the pulitzer prize. In other words — a fitting target for capitalists, the most ambitious and narcissistically craven and damaged people in any society.
What do the Rich really Want?, video by The School of Life

Do I correctly understand the adverb "narcissistically" modifies both adjectives — "craven" and "damaged"? If so, does it sound idiomatic?

Thank you.
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Since it's not three things — "the most ambitious, narcissistically craven, and damaged people in any society" — I think narcissistically is meant to apply to both adjectives.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Since it's not three things — "the most ambitious, narcissistically craven, and damaged people in any society" — I think narcissistically is meant to apply to both adjectives.
    One question, does the collocation "narcissistically craven" make sense in your opinion?..
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I can't imagine coming out with the expression at the breakfast table, but grammatically it sounds possible. I'm not too sure about the meaning. I know quite a lot about narcissism, unfortunately. It's a serious personality disorder, or form of mental illness, although the term is bandied about casually to mean simply 'preoccupied with oneself'. Or, even more simply, 'preoccupied with one's appearance'.
    I would have to think very hard about how the term is being used here and what it has to do with 'craven'.

    I'm looking forward to enlightenment from others!
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    How can it be described as a 'collocation', Vic? See my comment above.
    My understanding of 'collocation' is words that are frequently used together for no particular reason, except habit and usage. The group of adjectives tall, short, high, low, is a good example. Why do we talk about 'short people' but 'low buildings'; 'tall' trees, not 'high' ones.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    It's just, "narcissistically damaged" does make sense to me — people who have emotional problems caused by their narcissism (as I understand). But if one is "narcissistically craven":confused: How is being craven related to being narcissistic:confused::)

    Thank you both!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    My understanding of 'craven' was needy and dependent, as well as cowardly. (By the way, 'craven coward' is a collocation, although not part of everyday speech.)
    I've refreshed my memory of the features of the disorder.
    (If I were one, I wouldn't be able to recognise it in myself. That's why it's one of the hardest personality disorders to treat.)

    The Narcissistic Personality occurs where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance and seeks to gain recognition of this from others.
    Noticeable symptoms may include:

    • Excessive self-importance.
    • Preoccupied with fantasies of power, success, beauty, intelligence, love.
    • Focus on self, with little empathy for others.
    • Behaving in an arrogant and entitled matter.
    • Manipulating others to achieve own ends.
    • Seeking constant admiration, praise and approval.
    • Envious of others and thinks others are envious.
    • One-sided relationships (it's all about them and their needs).
    • Harsh punishment of those who criticize or do not help.
    • Exaggeration of achievements and abilities.
    Narcissistic Personality
    Very topical: I'd say we can all think of somebody exactly like this.
    Yes, I'd say narcissists depend heavily on others. Others are like the mythological pool in which their own image is reflected back to them, the myth of Narcissus. They can't face even perceived criticism and easily imagine it where there is none at all. They need constant adulation and praise. It seems to me that 'craven' is a good word for certain aspects of the narcissistic personality.
    That doesn't mean it's a 'collocation'.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I would say that most Americans don't use the word "craven" properly as, in my experience, it is not part of our natural vocabulary. I've had to look it up a few times over the years to make sure I had the right idea about its meaning. Many people use it as a descriptor for a kind of scummy lowlife creep, or something along those lines, but lacking the primary meaning of "cowardly".
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I would say that most Americans don't use the word "craven" properly as, in my experience, it is not part of our natural vocabulary. I've had to look it up a few times over the years to make sure I had the right idea about to its meaning. Many people use it as a descriptor for a kind of scummy lowlife creep, or something along those lines, but lacking the primary meaning of "cowardly".
    It seems to be a formal word, according to dictionaries:)
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    'Craven coward' is in "Do not forsake me, oh my darlin'" from High Noon.
    Hm. Interesting. Listening to the song just now it slipped right past me until I realized that's what the singer sang, and I was waiting for it. Maybe I have a mental block against the word. :p

    But "craven coward" seems like a redundancy unless you change it around. A "contemptible cowardly coward" versus a "contemptible lowlife coward".
     
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    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    It turns out The School of Life is an international organization based in London. :eek: So translating the phrase, "narcissistically cowardly", it seems even less likely as a collocation.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think in context it's meant to be a bit paradoxical. The idea of "narcissistically craven" is that the people described are afraid to do anything (craven) that might make them look bad (narcissistic) - and that their culture tells them that treating others well makes them look bad (because it costs them money, and they base their reputation on being ruthlessly moneymaking) - so to get them to treat others well you have to make it so that treating others well helps their reputation rather than harms it.
     
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