If one is not familiar with the book and movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch is a green, revenge-seeking creature, who is out to spoil the holidays for an entire city. The original manuscript was written by Dr. Seuss, with a movie following in 2000 with Jim Carey in character as the Grinch.
Dr. Seuss described the Grinch as one, “To wear his shoes too tight while his head isn’t screwed on right. But most of all, his heart is two sizes too small.”
The Grinch lives on the top of a mountain all year, angry and isolated. The story takes a turn when a little girl named Cindy Lou-Who of Whoville decides she will venture to the Grinch’s home and convince him to give back the gifts and good cheer he has stolen. At first, the Grinch says no, but after Cindy does some serious persuading, his heart grows three sizes, and he returns to rescue the town of Whoville from a holiday disaster.
Although this story has a fairy tale ending, real-life doesn’t always present a happily-ever-after. Because, when Grinch-like people, such as narcissists set out to ruin the holidays, they are often successful.
There are parallels between the Grinch and narcissists.
First, the Grinch was a bully. Other children teased and emotionally damaged Mr. Green-face in his youth, so the Grinch developed a thick skin and callous attitude with others. Narcissists often have an abrasive way of interacting with people, not caring who they hurt. They will injure those in their path if it gets them what they want.
Also, narcissists can become entitled, angry, and aggressive due to both genetics and environment. The Grinch seems to have done just that. For example, the Grinch shows no emotion, while narcissists have low or zero empathy for others.
Secondly, the Grinch “wore his shoes too tight.” Such a description could describe a narcissist because narcissists can seldom relax unless they are winning or in control. The Grinch only seems to take a breath when he thought he would ruin the holidays for Whoville.
Also, these tight shoes can be an analogy with a narcissist whose grandiose sense of self is counterintuitive to what’s going on underneath. The shoes may look pretty, but they hurt. A narcissist is often uncomfortable around others even though an exterior may portray superiority. Like the Grinch, a narcissist wants to stand out for good or bad reasons. It’s all about attention.
Thirdly, the Grinch is a thief, and narcissists often steal, too. Both have a sense of arrogance and entitlement that makes them assume what belongs to others should belong to them, no matter the cost. For example, the happiness and celebratory festivities in Whoville irritated the Grinch because he is jealous that he can’t be happy. Those feelings should belong to him, the Grinch thinks.
As a fourth point, the Grinch has a heart two sizes too small. A narcissist lacks love or empathy, just like Mr. Green. That’s because narcissists cannot emotionally connect with others or themselves. It takes digging down deep and uncovering what hurts and what matters. Narcissists cannot do that.
Finally, the author writes that, “The Grinch’s head wasn’t screwed on right.” This sounds like a mental health disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a Cluster B personality disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, V Edition. The Grinch, however, does alter his behavior at the end of the story, but again, is it authentic? When narcissists change their actions, does the core of these people follow? That’s a tough question to answer.
It’s sad that narcissists cannot enjoy or even tolerate the holidays and work hard to ruin “the most wonderful time of the year.” If those around these toxic people can try to focus on the love for (emotionally healthy) friends and family, the days can be more enjoyable than anticipated.
The critical thing to remember is that narcissists often try to ruin holidays, birthdays, vacations, and other special events. Like the Grinch, narcissists can’t stand for people to be happy because joyfulness is often something they cannot feel or fathom. That said, bystanders should go into the holidays controlling what they can: themselves. Armed with low expectations and an exit plan, people may find that the holidays go by quickly. And thank goodness, they come only once a year.