July 6, 2011

When A Culture Is This Invested In The Lie, The Culture Is Finished

psychology today cover.jpg
what does the author all of us want to be true?

The title of the article is called, How To Spot A Narcissist, and it is similar to thousands of such articles about narcissism by being exactly the same thing.

Here are some sentences from the article, taken entirely at random, see if you can detect the theme:

Narcissists will be thrilled to hear that as a group they are rated as more attractive and likable than everyone else at first appearance...

Tucker Max and his ilk stoke our attention and our ire --sometimes in equal measure. They are a decidedly mixed bag; therein lies one of the many paradoxes of narcissism...

Women who score high on tests of narcissism consistently dress more provocatively than their more modest counterparts; male narcissists resort to displays of wit and braggadocio...

A cross section of the narcissist's ego will reveal high levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-focus, and self-importance...

Erica Carlson and her colleagues found that college students scoring high in narcissism rated themselves more intelligent, physically attractive, likable, and funny than others, as well as more power-oriented, impulsive, arrogant, and prone to exaggerate their abilities!

How can narcissists maintain their inflated self-image even though they know how they are perceived by others?

In the sexual realm, promiscuity is a key strategy that allows narcissists to maintain control...

And it closes with an offer to self-test using the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.  Go ahead, take it.  Let me guess: you scored low.

Of course you did.


Whether the article is technically accurate is besides the point, the point is why it exists, why they all exist.

Read the article: who is a narcissist?  The narcissist is the other, the unattainable other.  It opens with Tucker Max, who has had lots of sex with beautiful women.  Since you chose not to be able to have lots of sex with beautiful women, you aren't a narcissist, which is some sort of consolation prize, I guess.  Enjoy your Netflix queue.

All of the photographs, except one, are of super hot, super sexy women. 

psychology today model.jpg

Are you a super hot, super sexy woman?  No, you're pretty, but you're not so obsessed with your looks.  And you're obviously smarter than her.   Phew.  You're not a narcissist.  You can go back to torturing your boyfriend's soul.

Narcissists thrive in big, anonymous cities, entertainment-related fields (think reality TV), and leadership situations where they can dazzle and dominate others without having to cooperate or suffer the consequences of a bad reputation.

Not you?  You should stop wearing deodorant, it masks the delicious empathy.

There is one picture is of a man:

man borken mirror.jpg
and it seems abstractly arty enough to be a reasonable depiction of narcissism, except this is the title of that photo: man looking at his reflection in a broken mirror.  Oh, so it's the mirror's fault.  If only this shirtless Effexor success story could get a quality mirror, then he could see himself the right way.  (Who wants to go po-mo?: note that the hot chick has a perfectly good mirror.)

There is one other photo of a man and a woman, both looking at themselves in hand mirrors.  Get it?  That's not you, right? 

psychology today couple mirror.jpg

The photo is a deliberate lie of their/your unconscious
.  If you want that to be technically and psychologically accurate, if you want to rock your ego, the proper depiction would be each one looking at the other person's reflection in the mirror.

psychology today couple mirror reverse.jpg

Because a real narcissist doesn't see himself, he sees himself reflected back by the other person.  Is this chick correct enough to be the kind of woman that the kind of man I want everyone to think I am would be with?  "What?"  I know it's hard, but you have to do the work. 


The article, like the thousands of others, offers explanations as to why we're often attracted to narcissists.  (NB: that must mean you're not a narcissist.)

They're "attractive," "extroverted," "talented," "dominant".... and maybe these things are true and maybe they are not but the reason they are mentioned is the same reason there are always obligatory references to evolutionary psychology, so that you can say: you were tricked, you were seduced, you were manipulated, as if you had no responsibility in the matter. 

You think you chose your partner for the good qualities and the bad ones are baggage; but you chose them both because they fit your needs.  That the relationship later failed didn't mean you were getting something from it.  "Blaming the victim!"  I'm not blaming the victim, I am observing a universal rule: the common denominator in all of your failed relationships is you.

I've written well over a hundred words about who is or isn't a narcissist, not to out them but to force you into the condition of self-reflection, to force you to ask, "do I do this to other people?"  Is this me?"

My next sentence was going to be, "spotting a narcissist won't do you any good," but even that statement is a hedge.  The spotting is a deliberate defensive maneuver.  "That guy, and thus not me!"

Spotting a narcissist will get you nowhere because the problem isn't the narcissist, the problem is you.


Read this: A Generational Pathology