August 11, 2010

Narcissism Run Rampant

thebachelorpad.jpg
we'll have the sex so you don't have to


Is narcissism on the rise in college kids?

According to Prof. Jean Twenge at San Diego State, it is; to Prof. Chris Ferguson in The Chronicle of Higher Education, it is not:

The evidence just isn't there for an epidemic of narcissism or anything else. Social scientists would do well to exercise a degree of caution when interpreting data. Just like with the little boy who cries wolf, people are bound to notice too many phantom epidemics. The price to be paid is the credibility of social science itself.

At the core is the study by Twnege finding that college kids are becoming more narcissistic over the years. 


narcissism college.gif
The Chronicle disagrees, taking the perspective that data is conflicting, and anyway "epidemics" and "crises" are often fads of the social sciences.

So Twenge says it's on the rise in college kids and Ferguson says it's not. My question is, who cares?  Seriously, so what?  I admit it's annoying though enlightening to be in a bar near them, but otherwise, does it matter?  The problem isn't the college kids, the problem is the adults.

II.

Take a developmental perspective.  

If you follow that narcissism is more appropriate in adolescence than in middle age, then it may just be that adolescence has been extended into your late 20s, i.e. that we really should be comparing the narcissism of college kids in 2010 to the narcissism of 10th grades in the 80s.  This isn't a slander/libel, it's to put the social context out front.  If you adults-- media, parents, givernment, colleges, banks-- created a society that promotes lingering adolescences, you can hardly blame college kids for lingering.  Right?  When Vanderbilt University spent $150M to create a walled garden for their freshman nymphs and satyrs, did you expect them to instead join the Marine Corps? If I went to Vanderbilt now, you know what would happen?  I'd be pregnant.  Yeah.  Figure that one out.


thebachelorpad.jpg

you want us to grow up... why?




I don't want kids to be narcissists, of course, but I simply don't know if what Twenge detected  is pathological narcissism, a relatively stable trait over time, or developmentally appropriate though tremendously expensive adolescent narcissism.

It is completely useless to talk about the narcissism of kids without first yelling about why they have whatever level of narcissism they do have: adults.  You made them this way.  Honestly, I doubt if you (an individual parent) could have done anything differently, the entire structure was built for that purpose-- kids have disposable income so let's build a giant marketing network around that, along with TV and movies and people you want to be like, and probably adults will want to be part of the youth crowd because being an adult blows so you know what to do for them: create a show called Friends, then replace with Sex and The City, then Cashmere Mafia, which are all the same show but less funny but either way they will buy shoes.

"They're going to have to grow up eventually!"  First, I hear contempt in your voice, like you can't wait till they have to suffer.  That's narcissism.  Get that out of you, why should you be happy that they're going to suffer?  Do you see how you take their lives and reduce it to how it impacts yours?  Fix that, forget about them.  It's a miserable way to live, your own successes will never be enough to make you happy.  Ask Mel Gibson.

But here's an alternative response: really?  do they have to grow up?  Haven't you constructed a society where you can credit your way to a simulacra of branded prosperity for the next few  decades? Healthcare, social security, unemployment and extremely cheap food?  I know, I heard it to, the Dutch have it better in Sweden.

What we should be asking is not how the kids got this way, but how the 50 year olds got this way.  It's the same answer.

III.

One thing you should know about the study done by Twenge: it uses the NPI as a measure.  The Narcissistic Personality Inventory is a valid and reliable measure of the kind of narcissism a layman thinks of when he thinks of narcissism: someone on The Bachelor.  Extraverted, grandiose, vain, overconfident, exhibitionistic.

Here's the guy the NPI does not detect.  Nor the guy who kills his family, nor the suffering 40 year old man who can't seem to get a date despite how much time he spends learning how women think and what tricks to use.


IV.
 
If you're on a desert island and you're a narcissist, it doesn't matter.  It only matters as it affects other people.


Were a narcissism epidemic truly striking the United States, we ought to be seeing signs of it, but we're not. Violence among young people is at the lowest levels since the late 1960s. Rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, smoking, and dropping out of high school are all down as well.. more high-school students are taking difficult courses like calculus and advanced science... achievement in reading and math among schoolchildren has either remained stable or improved in recent years (and that is on standardized exams, so grade inflation is not the issue). And, as far as selfishness goes, evidence suggests that young people are engaged in community service and other civic activities more than before.

So what does that tell you?  If violence and teen pregnancy and all that is a mark of narcissism, and theses kids have lower rates than previous generations, what does that tell you about the previous generations?

The Chronicle of Higher Education


Do you see?

---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych


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Short post on Twenge's study










Comments

Of course university resear... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 12:45 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Of course university researchers fixate on college-aged narcissism. These self-centered students are a constant distraction to the work of most professors, who view teaching the way most of us view filing expense reports - necessary but a waste of time. Might as well use them as subjects.

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"First, I hear contempt in ... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 1:16 PM | Posted by someone: | Reply

"First, I hear contempt in your voice, like you can't wait till they have to suffer. That's narcissism."

According to you, everything is narcissistic and there is no possible way for anyone to avoid being a narcissist. You may as well complain about people drinking water or sleeping.

"Get that out of you, why should you be happy that they're going to suffer?"

How does being an adult necessarily mean suffering? I would be suffering if I had to live in a college environment.

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adolescence has been pushed... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 1:56 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

adolescence has been pushed out to the 30s.
adulthood is now... what, 35?

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"How does being an adult... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 2:54 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"How does being an adult necessarily mean suffering? I would be suffering if I had to live in a college environment."

You seem to be conflating the author's thoughts with the hypothetical "adult" being addressed here. I think the idea is that the person saying "they're going to have to grow up eventually!" with contempt in his voice sees nothing but suffering and regret in adulthood/his current situation, so the author is addressing the hypothetical person in his own terms.

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For some reason I visualize... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 2:55 PM | Posted by anonymous: | Reply

For some reason I visualize Dante's Inferno when I read this blog. In this version,on an extra level of hell, psychiatrists chase each other and flog each other for being overly narcissistic(human).However even after saying that,I agree with TLP's take on the study and narcissism in general.

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@someone : uh, what? Sure, ... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 3:01 PM | Posted by Termm: | Reply

@someone : uh, what? Sure, I'll give it to you, TLP does liberally apply narcissism to people/actions/etc. But you really can't see how 'like you cant wait till they have to suffer' is narcissistic? TLP even responds, "why do they have to grow up eventually?" As for your second point, is it meant to be a joke of some sort? A fundamental part of human culture is just old people talking about how great it was when they were 20 years old... watch any advertisement directed to adults, its generally an appeal to youth/health/vigor/what have you. And I'm not sure if you've ever been to college, or if you don't remember college, or if you didn't have friends in college, but coming from a college student, a college environment is stressful, yes, but incredibly fun. Suffering in an environment like this? Hardly.

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And I'm not sure if you'... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 3:29 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Butterfly McDoom: | Reply

And I'm not sure if you've ever been to college, or if you don't remember college, or if you didn't have friends in college, but coming from a college student, a college environment is stressful, yes, but incredibly fun.

College was not a hoot for everybody who went, regardless of how much they remember or how many friends they had. For me, the experience was chaotic and confusing to the point of paralysis, and survival hinged on (unconsciously) developing defenses to cope with it. Only within the last couple of years (I'm 31) have I felt like I've gotten my sea legs: stability and understanding that eluded me ten years ago. Life, now, is more enjoyable than it was then.


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Sorry; I'm new at this whol... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 3:31 PM | Posted by Butterfly McDoom: | Reply

Sorry; I'm new at this whole "commenting" thing.

The above comment is in reply to Termm. The comment below is in reply to someone.

According to you, everything is narcissistic and there is no possible way for anyone to avoid being a narcissist. You may as well complain about people drinking water or sleeping.

Precisely. You cannot avoid having become what you are. But once having been made aware of it (through repeated exposure to TLP, for instance), we might be able to make incremental changes for ourselves and future generations.

It's not comfortable when narcissism is in conflict with other values, where self-interest gets in the way of doing the right thing, i.e. "I'd like to volunteer my time and money to a worthy cause, but [insert comsumer good] just went on sale and Mama needs a new pair of shoes...." God knows I'm guilty of this.

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Re: "And, as far as self... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 3:53 PM | Posted by hermitian operator: | Reply

Re: "And, as far as selfishness goes, evidence suggests that young people are engaged in community service and other civic activities more than before."

Without taking a position one way or another, narcissism is more a state of mind rather than a set of behaviors. Young people may be narcissistically selfish, yet feign altruism to game the "system". E.g., volunteering at the soup kitchen to polish an application to a selective college.

A lot of what narcissists do involves getting tickets punched to gain access to more sophisticated opportunities for exploitation. The self-absorbed sense of entitlement is always along for the ride.

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"But you really can't see h... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 4:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Termm's comment, by someone: | Reply

"But you really can't see how 'like you cant wait till they have to suffer' is narcissistic?"

What does it matter when, according to him, everything is evidence of narcissism?

"Suffering in an environment like this? Hardly."

Surrounded by obnoxious degenerates while learning nothing... no, I really wouldn't want to attend a college or university (for the record, I'm 26).

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It sure is hard to resist T... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 4:17 PM | Posted, in reply to anonymous's comment, by matchless1: | Reply

It sure is hard to resist TLP's hayride, it's even worth risking the occasional step in cow berets. Thanks for the imagery.

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Your comment doesn't even m... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 4:32 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by noone: | Reply

Your comment doesn't even make sense. Even if TLP applied the term narcissism incorrectly in every other instance, it's impossible to argue that he isn't applying it correctly here. Am I misreading your comment or are you seriously defending wanting young people to suffer?

He's not saying all adults suffer, he's saying that people who want other people to suffer are-- never mind. Deaf ears, I'm guessing.

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I have noticed that the cri... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 5:38 PM | Posted, in reply to noone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I have noticed that the criticism about the overuse of the term narcissism borders on reflexive. it's as if just because he uses the term often, he must be using it wrong. It seems as though the linked Chronicle article does the same thing, because he seems to agree that there is a lot of narcissism, but he objects to it being labeled an epidemic.

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"Am I misreading your comme... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 6:18 PM | Posted, in reply to noone's comment, by someone: | Reply

"Am I misreading your comment or are you seriously defending wanting young people to suffer?"

It makes no difference if he thinks this or that is evidence of narcissism when he thinks everything is evidence of narcissism.

And yes, I do want young people to grow up. If that makes them "suffer," then that's just tough shit.

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@Someone: get over yourself... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 9:41 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

@Someone: get over yourself please. You'd be doing us all a favor.

With regards to the post: I'm in a university and I often wish I'd gone into the Marines instead. This place is a joke.

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"Get over yourself please. ... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2010 11:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by someone: | Reply

"Get over yourself please. You'd be doing us all a favor."

This does not mean anything, and you're obviously an imbecile if you haven't noticed how liberally he accuses everyone of narcissism. He is exactly like someone who goes around randomly accusing everyone he sees of racism.

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I don't see anything... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 12:32 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply


I don't see anything wrong with enjoying life and not giving a rats ass about your fucking neighbors and whether or not they approve of your purple taffeta curtains and whether or not the condo commission is going to boot your ass out if you don't change them. I fail to see how this makes one an "adolescent". If I work for a living, if I earn my way, if I pay my bills, if I take care of my shit, I am a fucking adult ... even if I am unhinged and childlike in other ways that make YOU call ME an "adolescent"
I would argue it isn't so much that adolescence is extending into the 30s, I would argue that the conventional definition of adulthood is falling out of favor (being a miserable old fat fuck who drinks beer on the weekends and doesn't exist as a person, or the woman who exists only to work and cook dinner for family and is completely oblivious to herself).
Being an adult isn't about being miserable, conforming, and killing your identity. That's a lie miserable boring people tell themselves because they can't find any joy in life and they are too stupid and uncreative to do their own thing so they shit out a bunch of kids and become functional alcoholics and sit in front of the TV and gain 50 pounds or so.
If you've a job and are independent you're an adult regardless of how else you live, regardless if you maintain an adolescent self-focused life-enjoying perspective. Just saying.

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Yeah, it's just like that i... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 12:35 AM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yeah, it's just like that if you ignore what the words actually mean and connote.

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"Do you see how you take th... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:02 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Do you see how you take their lives and reduce it to how it impacts yours? Fix that, forget about them." Divine advice on how to be a parent. And everyone fusses about everything else in the post but fails to notice this? Why—are we all so used to appropriating the lives of our childen, or having been appropriated ourselves? Well ... get over it!

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"Do you see how you take th... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:02 AM | Posted by Zo: | Reply

"Do you see how you take their lives and reduce it to how it impacts yours? Fix that, forget about them." Divine advice on how to be a parent. And everyone fusses about everything else in the post but fails to notice this? Why—are we all so used to appropriating the lives of our childen, or having been appropriated ourselves? Well ... get over it!

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Ehm, if you call every frui... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:23 AM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by ATraveller: | Reply

Ehm, if you call every fruit you see a lemon, does that mean that all lemons are actually apples?

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I don't see anything wro... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:55 AM | Posted by TheUnderwearBandit: | Reply

I don't see anything wrong with enjoying life and not giving a rats ass about your fucking neighbors and whether or not they approve of your purple taffeta curtains and whether or not the condo commission is going to boot your ass out if you don't change them. I fail to see how this makes one an "adolescent". If I work for a living, if I earn my way, if I pay my bills, if I take care of my shit, I am a fucking adult ... even if I am unhinged and childlike in other ways that make YOU call ME an "adolescent"
I would argue it isn't so much that adolescence is extending into the 30s, I would argue that the conventional definition of adulthood is falling out of favor (being a miserable old fat fuck who drinks beer on the weekends and doesn't exist as a person, or the woman who exists only to work and cook dinner for family and is completely oblivious to herself).
Being an adult isn't about being miserable, conforming, and killing your identity. That's a lie miserable boring people tell themselves because they can't find any joy in life and they are too stupid and uncreative to do their own thing so they shit out a bunch of kids and become functional alcoholics and sit in front of the TV and gain 50 pounds or so.
If you've a job and are independent you're an adult regardless of how else you live, regardless if you maintain an adolescent self-focused life-enjoying perspective. Just saying.

Personally I love the performance art commentators.

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wow, i thought i was the on... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 2:13 AM | Posted, in reply to Butterfly McDoom's comment, by jack davis: | Reply

wow, i thought i was the only one who felt that way

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If a person goes around cal... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 2:15 AM | Posted, in reply to ATraveller's comment, by someone: | Reply

If a person goes around calling every fruit a lemon, it's time to start disregarding his opinions about fruits.

Also, the more a word is abused, the more it loses its meaning.

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"So what does that tell you... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 3:33 AM | Posted by Dan: | Reply

"So what does that tell you? If violence and teen pregnancy and all that is a mark of narcissism, and theses kids have lower rates than previous generations, what does that tell you about the previous generations?

The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Do you see?"

I'm afraid I don't see - what does that tell us? Could someone please put this into idiot-speak for me?

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Purple curtains!?!? You're ... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 3:50 AM | Posted by HKB: | Reply

Purple curtains!?!? You're living on the edge.

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"@Someone: get over yoursel... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 5:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Kyle: | Reply

"@Someone: get over yourself please. You'd be doing us all a favor."

Do you see how you take someone's life and reduce it to how it impacts yours? Fix that, forget about him.

...

Okay, I didn't post this just to be a smartass -- it goes to the point that looking at an offhand comment and focusing on drawing inferences of narcissism above all else can be unhelpful. I had to reread the comments on this post several times before I was convinced that they weren't mostly attempts at irony along the same lines.

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"Young people may be narcis... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 6:06 AM | Posted, in reply to hermitian operator's comment, by Reader: | Reply

"Young people may be narcissistically selfish, yet feign altruism to game the "system". E.g., volunteering at the soup kitchen to polish an application to a selective college."

Let's be honest. The generation in question (my generation) has nothing to do. Start another temporarily profitable and ultimately useless company? Write yet another self-help book or meaningless fiction novel? Backpack through the Himalayas to "find" ourselves?

Gen Yers/Digital Natives/obnoxious college students, whatever label is en vogue this week, know that something just isn't quite right with how we interact with society. We won't do what our parents did, because they're all as miserable as we are.

So we'll try what "happy people" do or at least trying to make someone else "happy" and hope it rubs off. Except it won't, because we're just imitating the motions without understanding the purpose.

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Childhood didn't really exi... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 8:39 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Childhood didn't really exist in the sense we think of it until the Victorian era and the rise of the middle class. And the "teenager" is an even more recent social construct. They're both a result of increased wealth and free time.

Anon with the fetish for purple curtains does make a point (even if some it is unintentional). If your parents were just pretending to be grown up and weren't actually mature then you've probably only seen childish older people play acting being adults - faking it but not really making it. People do this all the time - they get what they believe to be the external signifiers of adulthood (a certain job, a house, a car, kids) but totally manage to bypass emotional maturity and responsibility along the way (they didn't learn it themselves from their parents). This, of course, leads to a mid-life crisis of meaning and often adolescent behavior from people who have been faking it or doing what they were told or was expected of them - who were externally focused on superficial signifiers. Since human culture is ruled by signifiers of status and always has been - advertising just hijacks a human desire/concern and diverts it for the vendors advantage - the main difference is that the kind of entitlement and narcissism that used to be mainly the domain of the very wealthy/elite has become middle class. Isn't this the American DreamTM, that every man is a king in a castle? (The first way to make this happen was via slavery in America and then these days offshoring some of the industrial slavery and importing domestic slaves.) Why didn't mechanized production free up laborers for more enjoyable pursuits as was/is possible? Two reasons. The main one is that it would require a redistribution of wealth. The other is that America is a fundamentally WASP - White Anglo Saxon Protestant - society and stoicism and work are woven into the fundamental (pun intended) character of the culture. So is excess as a reaction against the WASPiness of it all but this reaction is still a warped and fetishistic attitude towards the body, sex and even death (we hide away real stinky and dirty death and illness but love to watch fake, aestheticized and sanitized murder or fantasy hospital shows for entertainment)

The other thing that occurs to me is that no one really knows who they are until they've actually been in a situation to have that tested. Coddled and protected children never get to test their mettle - they have no way of knowing if the image they have of themselves is true when it's tested in the crucible of life. Part of maturity is coming to terms with who you really are as opposed to who you'd like to be.

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Re: "So we'll try what "... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 8:46 AM | Posted, in reply to Reader's comment, by hermitian operator: | Reply

Re: "So we'll try what "happy people" do or at least trying to make someone else "happy" and hope it rubs off. Except it won't, because we're just imitating the motions without understanding the purpose."

Welcome to the post-modern nihilistic dystopia.

Well, at least you'll keep the TLP's of the planet busy practicing the now normative, mindless, truncated psychiatry. They'll be shot-gunning you psychotropics even though none of them are indicated for ennui.

Sorry...

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Wow - commenters are on the... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 9:17 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

Wow - commenters are on the verge of asking the existential question: "What could I myself be doing with my brief time on this planet?"

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Question: "What could I mys... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 12:11 PM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by Butterfly McDoom: | Reply

Question: "What could I myself be doing with my brief time on this planet?"

Answer: Trying to figure out what I could be doing with my brief time on this planet.

Which requires a degree of self-awareness and introspection that seems to be lacking. But people who think in concrete terms cannot be convinced that they have an unconscious (i.e., something they cannot control) dictating their thoughts and actions.

To say nothing of the modern CBT/I-want-a-cure(pill)-and-I-want-it-NOW culture, in which symptoms are treated and underlying causes remain unaddressed.

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This does not mean anyth... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 12:37 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Butterfly McDoom: | Reply

This does not mean anything, and you're obviously an imbecile if you haven't noticed how liberally he accuses everyone of narcissism. He is exactly like someone who goes around randomly accusing everyone he sees of racism.

On the contrary, I don't think Alone is anything like a person who randomly accuses everyone he sees of racism. I think people who do this are either:

A) Defensive or ignorant, even willfully so. It's easier to slap someone with a label (i.e., "He's a racist!") than it is to examine their argument in depth, particularly when the argument hits closer to home than we'd like to admit.

or

B) Using it as a smokescreen to hide the flaws in their own argument. When challenged with a contrary point of view (perhaps even regardless of its accuracy), a person can resort to ad hominem attacks because they can't or don't know how to defend their own argument.

There is a difference between using the word "narcissism" as an accusation (above); flinging the word about willy-nilly; and interpreting/witnessing behavior of societal/cultural groups as an upward trend in narcissism.

I'm curious why Alone's accusations of narcissism are so upsetting to Someone. And why s/he chose to frame their grievance in those terms.

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'Wow - commenters are on th... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:10 PM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by Reader: | Reply

'Wow - commenters are on the verge of asking the existential question: "What could I myself be doing with my brief time on this planet?"'

Is it existential? Or is it just another inflated form of self-importance?

Before Industrialization, most of us wouldn't have been given the option to ask the question. "What am I doing in this world?" "Shut up and till/plant/harvest/cook."

So along with the created teenagerhood, we have an issue with created importance. We're "supposed" to do something meaningful (we're all so damned special, right? my mommy told me so), but odds are we're going to live miserable lives convinced we're not living up to our "potential".

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Hasn't mankind turned to re... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Reader's comment, by Butterfly McDoom: | Reply

Hasn't mankind turned to religion for thousands of years in an effort to answer that question?

The purpose of our time on this planet is to do God's work (interpret as you will). Our purpose is to glorify God. Etc.

It's not inflated self-importance... though it is a comparative luxury. You can't waste time searching for answers when there's not enough food on the table, no roof over your head... Maslow's hierarchy and all that. In history, those who had basic needs met wrote the books trying to answer these questions - priests, nobility, scholars.

But thanks to Industrialization and the advances that have followed, more of us have basic needs met if not outright exceeded, and thus have the luxury of being able to ask that question ourselves and, equally important, have an education to read and write about it. Witness the arguments made in this comments thread.

I think it's a positive evolution. Pity not everyone has the luxury to ponder the imponderables - and one day, when everyone's basic needs are met, it will be viewed as a necessity instead - but I don't know how to fix the world. Alas.

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Re: but odds are we're g... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Reader's comment, by hermitian operator: | Reply

Re: but odds are we're going to live miserable lives convinced we're not living up to our "potential".

That's what psycho-pharmaceuticals are for. They paper over the crack in the wall between your ears.

BTW, unless somebody has a gun to your head, all stress is self-induced...

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"There is a difference betw... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 1:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Butterfly McDoom's comment, by someone: | Reply

"There is a difference between using the word "narcissism" as an accusation (above); flinging the word about willy-nilly; and interpreting/witnessing behavior of societal/cultural groups as an upward trend in narcissism."

He regards everything as evidence of narcissism. No person can avoid being a narcissist. Therefore his views about the subject are meaningless.

"I'm curious why Alone's accusations of narcissism are so upsetting to Someone."

Learn to read. It helps.

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"He regards everything as e... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 2:23 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"He regards everything as evidence of narcissism."

He regards everything he posts at TLP as evidence of narcissism. I doubt that changes in the constitution of Krispy Kreme donuts has any bearing at all. I could be wrong here.

"No person can avoid being a narcissist."

Okay. How about "No person who is a narcissist can avoid being a narcissist?" Since, in fact, not everyone is a narcissist. Nor do I think Alone thinks so, either, though admittedly the prospects are grim.

"Therefore his views about the subject are meaningless."

He sees a pattern and he talks about it. He supplies arguments that reinforce his interpretation. How is that any different from other theorists or, indeed, anyone who thinks, feels and experiences the world, who has a perspective or agenda or system of belief?

If Alone's views on the subject are meaningless, then all his views at meaningless, and none of us should care what he - or anyone - has to say. Hell, why pay attention to anyone's interpretations of anything? What possible value lies in posting and reading comments? Aside from the pleasure of being right, putting others in their place and flaming n00bs, of course.

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How the hell can there be a... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 4:00 PM | Posted by michael r. brown: | Reply

How the hell can there be all the misery and ennui reflected in these comments with this glorious planet and universe all around? Wake up and realize your absolute mortality!

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CBT can also deal with the ... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 4:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Butterfly McDoom's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

CBT can also deal with the root causes of behavior, it just focuses on being aware of what's going on now so you're dealing with current reality and not just focusing on the past and keeping dysfunctional narratives alive and allowing them to warp and dominate the present. I find it kind of weird that you think CBT, which emphasizes personal responsibility, is the same as wanting a magic pill - it's actually quite the opposite!

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This post didn't get a perf... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 5:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This post didn't get a perfect score. Could it be the people who thumbed it down felt like they were getting a slap in the face? Shame on you... and we all know that that is what you will be feeling, too.

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CBT can also deal with t... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 6:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Butterfly McDoom: | Reply

CBT can also deal with the root causes of behavior, it just focuses on being aware of what's going on now so you're dealing with current reality and not just focusing on the past and keeping dysfunctional narratives alive and allowing them to warp and dominate the present.

I can appreciate that CBT (as I understand it) equips patients tools to deal with the current reality but I'm afraid I don't understand how dealing with the current reality addresses the root causes. If a new patient announces, "I'm anxious about my relationship," or "I'm stressed about this woman I work with," or "I'm depressed because my boyfriend won't touch me," what does a CBT do? Assign homework? Help them change their self-talk? Try to help the patient change their conscious perception?

All of that's useful, but what about those root causes? They frequently aren't located in the consciousness or current reality - they're buried in the unconscious, somewhere in the patient's history. At some point, you have to focus on the past. If you never face those dysfunctional narratives, never feel the associated pain and repressed emotion, how do you heal? How does a CBT address this?


I find it kind of weird that you think CBT, which emphasizes personal responsibility, is the same as wanting a magic pill - it's actually quite the opposite!

I equate CBT to a magic pill in that both seem to address the symptoms while not necessarily addressing the underlying causes, but I concede my initial remark was dismissive. CBT is useful, but YMMV.

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"This does not mean anythin... (Below threshold)

August 13, 2010 6:20 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"This does not mean anything, and you're obviously an imbecile if you haven't noticed how liberally he accuses everyone of narcissism."

I respectfully disagree, but my problem with you isn't your opinion, it's the fact that you've apparently decided Alone is full of shit and most or all of his readers (excluding you, of course) are a bunch of idiots, but you're still here. And apparently you're following closely enough to rip apart a new post the day it goes up. So, what, are you on some kind of crusade or something? Quit browbeating everybody. Get over yourself.


"He is exactly like someone who goes around randomly accusing everyone he sees of racism."

Except that everybody is a little bit narcissistic. It's a spectrum that we're all on. Alone has said as much, but it's so obvious it hardly bears pointing out. Furthermore, there's a number of examples where he says that narcissism is categorically not the problem, or at least not NPD. Which makes me wonder why you've leaped to an unfair conclusion AND have the gall to insult anyone who's reached a different one.

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"you want us to grow up... ... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 4:16 AM | Posted by Gil: | Reply

"you want us to grow up... why?"

That statement probably says it best. If being single means you get to have fun, random sex with good-looking members of the desired gender then why would you want to get married, settle down and have children? Provided those who have the extended adolescence until they're senior citizens aren't going to have children whereas the boring, hardworking, sensible people do have children in their prime years then it's all good.

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"Since, in fact, not everyo... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 6:23 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by someone: | Reply

"Since, in fact, not everyone is a narcissist."

According to him, they are.

Gil, not everyone is interested in casual sex and partying. I've never done either and never will.

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Casual sex is great, you sh... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 10:46 AM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Awesome.: | Reply

Casual sex is great, you should really try it sometime. Along with psychedelic mushrooms...very nice combination.

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Exactly, these people need ... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 10:47 AM | Posted, in reply to michael r. brown's comment, by Get some love: | Reply

Exactly, these people need to be having more sex.

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"According to him they are.... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 11:58 AM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"According to him they are."

*facepalm*

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I'd rather eat a bullet.</p... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 5:27 PM | Posted, in reply to Awesome.'s comment, by someone: | Reply

I'd rather eat a bullet.

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Wow you're missing out. Se... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 5:38 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Wow you're missing out. Sex is a great activity, casual or not. It's so much fun!!

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Butterfly - CBT isn't appro... (Below threshold)

August 14, 2010 8:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Butterfly McDoom's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Butterfly - CBT isn't appropriate for everything or everyone, of course. It's not a panacea and not everyone's a good candidate for CBT. You do have to be motivated and self directed - it's not for people who aren't ready to actually deal with whatever issue brought them into therapy in the first place. The focus is on the present and seeing things as they are, which naturally reveals the illusions/stories we've created over the year connected to the root of the issue. The difference is that one doesn't spend a lot of time ruminating over the past (something that can actually be detrimental for some people and some conditions). As I'm sure you're aware, not everyone's a good candidate for pharmaceutical interventions or other forms of talk therapy either so NO treatment is a panacea or magic. Why do you expect something to be a panacea in the first place? And apparently get annoyed when it's not?

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"You do have to be motivate... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2010 11:46 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

"You do have to be motivated and self directed" -- part of the skill of decent talk therapy is building motivation and shifting clients to be more self-directing. Along with judiciously judging how much to explore the past - for enhancing progress in the present, and not as a hobby or entertainment.

This line of discussion helps illustrate why decent talk therapy is so much more suitable than a pill for a wide range of mental/ emotional/ social problems.

if someone has "control" or "authority" "issues," or does not hold tehmselves as responsible for their own life, they really won't "comply" with a prescription unless these problems are addressed first.

unless the person is in a state where treatment can be forced upon a person, and circumstances permit.

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"You do have to be motivate... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2010 11:47 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

"You do have to be motivated and self directed" -- part of the skill of decent talk therapy is building motivation and shifting clients to be more self-directing. Along with judiciously judging how much to explore the past - for enhancing progress in the present, and not as a hobby or entertainment.

This line of discussion helps illustrate why decent talk therapy is so much more suitable than a pill for a wide range of mental/ emotional/ social problems.

if someone has "control" or "authority" "issues," or does not hold tehmselves as responsible for their own life, they really won't "comply" with a prescription unless these problems are addressed first.

unless the person is in a state where treatment can be forced upon a person, and circumstances permit.

compliance is not even very strong in pharmaceutical RCTs. In the real world, forget it.

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You're absolutely right re:... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2010 4:23 PM | Posted by anon: | Reply

You're absolutely right re: NPI. Let's then make our own test for narcissism as you've defined and outlined on this blog. I'm certain you will agree that there are individual differences in narcissism as you've defined it, and that this construct is assessable.

Let's make a psychometrically reliable and valid instrument to assess the sort of narcissism you'd expect among 40-yr old family killers and people who want to be Don Draper. I'm sure you've got hypotheses and hunches about narcissism that you'd love to test. If you're interested, let me know. We can make this happen.

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You're absolutely right re:... (Below threshold)

August 16, 2010 4:27 PM | Posted by anon: | Reply

You're absolutely right re: NPI. Let's then make our own test for narcissism as you've defined and outlined on this blog. I'm certain you will agree that there are individual differences in narcissism as you've defined it, and that this construct is assessable.

Let's make a psychometrically reliable and valid instrument to assess the sort of narcissism you'd expect among 40-yr old family killers and people who want to be Don Draper. I'm sure you've got hypotheses and hunches about narcissism that you'd love to test. If you're interested, let me know. We can make this happen.

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Is there any form of... (Below threshold)

August 21, 2010 4:53 PM | Posted by Speeny Bambleween: | Reply

Is there any form of human behavior that TLP doesn't ascribe to narcissism? The blog is often enjoyable, but sometimes it almost seems like self-parody.

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Thank you! The content is e... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2011 10:20 PM | Posted by cheap jewelry: | Reply

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