COVID-19 has brought out the best and worst in countless people across the nation. But here in Los Angeles, where the population consists of more high profile individuals (in business, entertainment, etc.) than anywhere else in the United States, the pandemic has really brought forth the narcissistic qualities we may have not noticed before.
At the forefront of helping individuals here in LA fight back against narcissists in their lives is local attorney Rebecca Zung, Esq. who has seen her YouTube channel where she gives advice to those in sticky situations surpass over 100K subscribers during these times, and her books that teach people how to fight back have been sky-rocketing in online sales.
In an exclusive Q&A with the Los Angeles Tribune, Zung goes into more details about the trends happening right now in both relationships and in business when it comes to this topic of narcissism, and what negotiation tools we each use to get out of whatever situation that may come up during the pandemic and afterwards.
1. As someone who lives here in Los Angeles, how many narcissists do you encounter on a weekly basis?
Well a whole lot less since COVID started! But seriously, I honestly have to say that most of the people I have met since I moved to LA have actually been very lovely. I think a lot of it also has to do with the industry you’re in. I sure met a lot in the divorce world. Narcissists don’t tend to stay married. They are also attracted to fields where they can wield power so I met a lot of narcissistic lawyers and judges too.
2. Why have you made it your life’s mission to help people fight back against narcissists?
I have always been one to champion the underdog. Maybe it’s because I was bullied as a kid for being half Chinese or maybe it’s because I’ve had to deal with narcissists in my personal life too. But , seeing how my strategies and methodologies help millions of people around the world is very motivating for me to continue my crusade. It continues to ignite my passion to empower others and to make a lasting difference.
3. What statistics here in Los Angeles have you noticed or received in terms of the divorce rate since COVID-19 began?
There was an initial spike in divorces when people came out of the first major lockdown back in June. Then the rate came back down to normal levels. The problem now is that there is a huge backlog in the court system and that may be a deterrent for people who want to file for divorce.
4. What key factors or signs should both men and women be on the lookout for to realize they may be with a narcissist, as sometimes people are blind to it?
Initially people should look for what they called love bombing. That’s when they come on super strong and they seem to be the most perfect person in the whole wide world. Then they want to rush the relationship along and get right to the next level. So they insist upon meeting the family right away; they want to move in together right away; they want to get married right away; things like that. They want to get themselves firmly ensconced into a situation where they can start controlling you as soon as possible. Once they are in that situation, then they can start in on the devaluing phase of the relationship. That’s when you start to notice little things that are off, such as putting you down, using the silent treatment, gaslighting you or being passive aggressive. Then when you try to call them out on their behavior, they start love-bombing again. It’s very toxic and confusing.
5. Do you feel the United States and the leadership, as well as the celebrity culture in our country, has played a role in how people treat each other? And maybe helped promote narcissism?
I’m not sure if politicians or the celebrity culture have played a role in how people treat each other or maybe it has just shed light on it more. Perhaps there were always the same number of narcissists but we didn’t really know what to call it before. I’m sure social media hasn’t really helped and perhaps has contributed to it too.
They do say that 1 in 10 people are either narcissists or have narcissistic traits or tendencies. So that’s a huge percentage of the population. That means that really no one has ever escaped having to deal with these difficult personalities.
6. Who do you feel are some of the biggest narcissists in our society today?
I am not a psychologist so I would reticent to flat out say that someone is definitely a narcissist. I can definitely observe that certain people have narcissistic traits or tendencies. A lot of people have mentioned President Trump has such traits and I tend to agree that he certainly seems to. But beyond that I can only say that narcissists do tend to be attracted to professions where they will be respected, get lots of adulation, and are in control. So obviously you will see narcissists being attracted to professions of politicians, professional athletes and the entertainment industry. You will also see narcissistic doctors, lawyers, clergy and psychologists who are narcissists as well. But I do think that there’s probably narcissists in every single profession and in every single walk of life.
7. Can narcissists change?
I actually asked this exact question to one of the psychiatrists that I interviewed recently. She seemed to think that they could potentially change if they went into intensive therapy and were very committed to changing. She then did acknowledge and admit though that most narcissists don’t even darken the doorstep of any therapist. Let alone go into intensive therapy and commit to changing and wanting to get better. So therefore I think the answer to this is pretty much a no.
8. How have you personally been handling the COVID-19 situation as a lawyer?
I haven’t been personally handling anything with regard to Covid as a lawyer, but I certainly have many people in my SLAY Your Negotiation with a Narcissist program who have been affected by Covid and are utilizing the strategies that I teach in my resources to help them in their situations.
9. What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic calms down here in Los Angeles?
Definitely traveling again. I miss being able to go visit my family and friends. I miss being able to go places and see things. I also really miss concerts, events and parties. I am really ready for us to get back to some sort of normalcy at some point here soon.
10. What tools or advice can you give to those who want to fight back, like you are doing, against either a narcissist in their life?
You need to remember that when you are negotiating with a narcissist, they are solely driven by something called narcissistic supply. The key is going to be in threatening a source of supply that means more to them to keep than the supply that they get from making you miserable. Narcissistic supply is anything that feeds their ego. That can be how they look, adulation, respect, money, and prestige. It also comes from things like controlling people, intimidating people, degrading people and devaluing people.
So don’t think that you’re going to be able to just walk away and wish each other well. It doesn’t work that way with a narcissist. So be prepared for war. I have tons of free resources to help people get started, such as my Crush My Negotiation Prep Worksheet which people can grab at www.winmynegotiation.com. Also, check out my YouTube videos. Start preparing now so that you don’t get caught without any armor in this battle.
11. Any other thoughts or comments you want to include and leave us off with that relate back to your life, career and time here in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is a great place to meet people and network with people. I especially love that there’s so many creative people here and everybody is up for new ideas, new concepts and being innovative. I feel like the energy here has always been that of people who are true pioneers.