Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Am I a Narcissist?

*Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder tests I took online (full text)

Recently I got into a 'debate' (*petty argument) with a fellow Youtube user over the proper definition and use of the word 'irony'. The substance of this argument is largely unimportant, but I know that I was right because I have not only got an undergraduate degree in English Literature & History of Art, but I researched both the definition and common misuses of irony (and found that the example at the core of the debate was typically misunderstood in popular language use, as I had suggested) and asked people on my Facebook to decide if the example was irony or not (a resounding 'no'). Anyway, a third person jumped into the comment thread and at some point in the conversation made it clear that he had visited my Blog (after checking my Youtube profile page) and didn't like it. The user (Jon Ingelson/Leviticus Poopdecker - his Youtube usernames) stated: 'Incidentally, I had a quick look at your website. What self-indulgent, narcissistic drivel and a genuine researcher you ain't'. Aside from the fact that I have never claimed to be a 'genuine dream researcher' (I claim to be an amateur dream researcher, oneironaut and dream enthusiast amongst other things) I am an actual researcher in my day-job (a PhD law student at university) so I just told him to check my credentials with my university or try and say that publicly on my Facebook wall. But it got me wondering - is it really narcissistic to write a Dream Blog on which I publish my dreams? I have often been told I am narcissistic, least of all because I post a lot of selfies on both my Blog and my Facebook - but isn't that a very contemporary habit a lot of us have adopted as normal? Many of my critics on that front are in no better position than myself - they are in fact often hypocritical, the males too - because they usually have a variety of flattering self- portraits posted on their social media profiles. So that alone can't be the reason why some people perceive me to be narcissistic. Certainly no-one could accuse me of being materialistic (I am too poor to be materialistic no matter how much I dream of having the means to buy possessions, so I try not to think about money or luxuries too much) or vain (I don't wear makeup day-to-day and tend to dress in a scruffy, casual way unless I'm experimenting with a different look alone in my room or am going on a rare night out - which are the times my 'made-up' selfies are taken). So I decided to put the accusations of Jon Ingelson et al to the test and find out whether I am a narcissist. The online tests I use should obviously be viewed with a degree of scepticism, but I will answer them all honestly and see what the results are. If I cannot post the actual tests directly onto my Blog, I will write the questions and note which answers I gave so you can see the content and style.

For a complex definition of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, click on the words to be linked to the Wikipedia entries.

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from one's own vanity or extreme egotism about one's personal attributes, often coupled with a lack of empathy. It is likened to arrogant self pride, with the term deriving from the Ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and drowned trying too reach for it. Narcissism is a concept of Psychoanalytic Theory, and is described in Sigmund Freud, On Narcissism (1914) and is defined by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It appears in the dark triad personality traits, alongside Machievellianism (manipulation, self-interest, exploitation, immorality and deception) and psychopathy (antisocial behaviour, remorselessness, callousness, and impulsivity). 

While Primary Narcissism is a form of healthy self-love and important for survival and was perceived by Freud to be the libidinal component to the egotism of self-preservation, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an abnormal condition which affects a person's relationship with self and others and is viewed as an antagonistic personality type. 

There are 4 main dimensions of personality variables associated with Narcissism: leadership/authority, self-absorption/self-admiration, superiority/arrogance and exploitativeness/entitlement. The following traits are often commonly associated with Narcissists:
  1. Obvious self-focus in interpersonal relationships
  2. Problems sustaining satisfying relationships
  3. Lack of psychological awareness
  4. Lack of empathy/emotional response
  5. Problems distinguishing self from others (boundaries)
  6. Hypersensitivity to criticism/insults (real or imagined)
  7. Vulnerability to shame, not guilt
  8. Haughty body language
  9. Flattery towards those who admire/affirm them (Narcissistic Supply)
  10. Detesting those who do not admire/affirm them (Narcissistic Abuse), debasement of others as self-protection, hostility and rage
  11. Exploiting/controlling others without remorse
  12. Blaming, intolerance or hyper-criticism of others
  13. Pretending or imagining self to be more important/superior than is true, hypomania and gradiosity
  14. Boasting and exaggerating achievements
  15. Claiming expertise at many things
  16. Inability to view the world from the perspective of others
  17. Denial of remorse and gratitude
  18. Need for positive reinforcement
  19. Feelings of rejection, threat or humiliation when thwarted
  20. Feigning humility or modesty
  21. Manifesting desire to be feared/notorious
  22. Inability to bear setbacks
  23. Lack of cooperation with others
Sandy Hotchkiss (2003) identified 7 deadly sins of Narcissism:
  1. Shamelessness
  2. Magical thinking (using distortion and projection to maintain a perfect self-image and dump shame on others)
  3. Arrogance (and diminishing, degrading or debasing others to reinflate one's deflated ego)
  4. Envy (maintaining superiority by using contempt to minimise the achievements or qualities of others)
  5. Entitlement (unreasonable expectations of automatic compliance or favourable treatment. Denial or failure is seen as an attack on superiority and is a form of Narcissistic Injury which can lead to Narcissistic Rage)
  6. Exploitation 
  7. Bad boundaries (inability to see others as separate from self - an extension of self, existing to meet the Narcissists needs. Those who provide Narcissistic Supply are treated as part of Narcissist)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is thought to affect 1% of the population. It is often described as a rare form of egocentricism, and historically, was referred to as 'megalomania'. It is often associated with antisocial and borderline personality disorders and eating disorders.   

Narcissism is thought to be caused by an over-sensitive temperament at birth, excessive admiration which is not balanced with realistic feedback, excessive praise for good behaviours and excessive criticism for bad behaviours, over-indulgence and over-evaluation by parents, exaggeration of perceived qualities by others, severe emotional childhood abuse, unpredictable/unreliable parental care, learned manipulative behaviours from parents and/or valued by parents to regulate their own self-esteem. Narcissism is thought to emerge when the individual has a personal belief that they are flawed and fundamentally unacceptable to others. This is an unconscious belief which leads the individual to protect themselves against painfully intolerable rejection by others by adopting manipulative behaviours in order to control how others view them and hide their (perceived) defective nature. Narcissism has been broken down into two main types: Narcissistic Grandiosity (exploitation, intense envy, aggression, lack of empathy and exhibitionism)  and Narcissistic Vulnerability (helplessness, emptiness, low self-esteem, shame, avoidant behaviours). However, NPD can be delineated by reference to 5 main recognised types:
  1. Unprincipled Narcissist - antisocial behaviours, charlatanism, fraudulence, exploitation, deception, unscrupulousness, lack of conscience, amorality, disloyalty, arrogance, conniving, dominating traits, contemptuousness, vindictiveness 
  2. Amorous Narcissist - histrionic behaviours, sexual seductiveness, enticing/beguiling personality, glibness/cleverness, disinclination of real intimacy, indulgence of hedonistic desires, inveigling others, pathological lying and swindling, emotional blackmail
  3. Compensatory Narcissist - negativistic and avoidant behaviours, seeking to cancel out/counteract deep feelings of inferiority or low self-esteem, offsetting deficiencies by creating illusions of superiority or grandiosity
  4. Elitist Narcissist - Phallic Narcissism, feelings of privilege or empowerment, special childhood status and pseudo achievements, façade bearing little resemblance to reality, seeking favour and luxury lifestyle, upward mobility, seeking status and advantages by association 
  5. Fanatic Narcissist - paranoia, self-esteem severely arrested during childhood, illusion of omnipotence, fighting delusions of insignificance or lost values, attempts at re-establishing self worth through grandiose fantasies and self-reinforcement, adoption of heroic or worshipped role
  6. Acquired Situational Narcissism - attained through fame, wealth or celebrity, failure to recognise others, feelings of invulnerability, substance abuse issues, unstable relationships, erratic behaviour
  7. Sexual Narcissism - erotic preoccupation with self, desire to merge with mirror-image of self, intimacy dysfunction, sexual exploits and infidelity pursued to over-compensate for low self-esteem, compulsivity and impulsiveness, obsession with femininity/masculinity
  8. Aggressive Narcissism - superficial charm, glibness, grandiosity, pathological lying, cunning and manipulation, lack of remorse/guilt, callousness, lack of empathy and failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  9. Destructive Narcissism - constant exhibition of numerous intense characteristics associated with Pathological Narcissism
  10. Malignant Narcissism - antisocial personality traits, paranoia, psychological gratification from accomplishments
  11. Parental Narcissism - seeing child as extension of self, desire for child to represent them in the world to meet parents' emotional need, leads to estrangement, resentment and self-destructive behaviours in relationship with child
  12. Primordial Narcissism - complete instinctual repose, manifested in unconsciousness (state of foetus/infant at birth)
  13. Inverted Narcissism/Co-Narcissism - tendency to behave in overly passive or excessive care-giving ways which negatively impact on self and relationships and acts as a magnet for co-dependency
  14. Collective/group Narcissism - self-love for own group, associated with ethnocentricism
  15. Conversational Narcissism - domination and attention-seeking
  16. Corporate Narcissism - profiteering behaviours
  17. Narcissistic Leadership - may be healthy or destructive
  18. Cultural Narcissism - acquisition of symbols of wealth and success, competitiveness and defensiveness, no sense of community, rigid, yet covert social hierarchies
John William Waterhouse, Echo and Narcissus (1903)
Caravaggio, Narcissus (c. 1594 - 1596)
Salvador Dali, The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937)

So below are the results of the tests I took. My full answers to all questions and the results are screenshotted and copy-pasted so you can see exactly what the tests asked me and my responses!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Test

This test was based on R Raskin & CS Hall, 'A Narcissistic Personality Inventory' (1979) Psychological Reports 45(2), 590

Before taking the test I had to confirm my age and gender. The following three images are screenshots of my responses to the questions (I am not sure why the third screenshot is a different size to the other two as I tried to resize them all to match):

 Here are my results :(

Personality Disorder Test

And my results:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Test

Before taking the test I had to confirm my age and gender.

 My results:

Self Test on Psychopathy/Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Counselling & psychotherapy website of Richard L Fellner, Vienna
(This one had a very depressing result for me *sadface*)

My results (bearing in mind I think many people who take Mr Fellner's test are likely to be diagnosed as having some form of disorder, since his website offers therapies and treatments targeting all such problems).

Thank you, Mr Fellner :(

So on one hand, it seems as if Mr Ingelson, my Youtube critic (and all you other haters out there!) are  correct in their analysis of my personality. I guess the most important thing is that I was confident enough that if I answered honestly and intuitively rather than over-thinking the answers and making sure they all seemed complimentary (because sometimes I have very changeable views and opinions on things, so I answered as is truthful and accurate as things are today as I write this article) I would be brave enough to post the results, no matter how bad they look on the surface. I actually believe that when you take popular psychological tests using the particular disorder/key phrase in the search (rather than taking a general psychological test) the chances of you being diagnosed as possessing traits of that disorder are higher, because of the way these websites operate. However, some of the typical traits are associated with me by others - such as my lack of empathy or my ability to communicate 'empathy' without emotion (the reason I trained to be a lawyer), my need to get my own way, my tendency to manipulate situations etc; and some I recognise in myself, such as envy and criticism of others. I think in future I will take some more psychological tests as it is quite interesting to see the results when you answer truthfully, although I suspect their is bias towards a positive (or 'affirmative') result. 

Famous people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder
*According to my (basic) internet research:
Jim Jones
Saddam Hussein
Warren Beatty
Ryan O'Neil
Marilyn Monroe
Alec Baldwin
Elvis Presley
Sharon Stone
William Shatner
Joan Crawford
Pablo Picasso
Ike Turner
Lee Harvey Oswald
Donald Trump
Kanye West
Charlie Chaplin
Marlon Brando
Timur-e Lang
Amanda Bynes
Eva Peron
Simon Cowell
Beyonce Knowles
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula) 
Adolf Hitler
Herod the Great
Joseph Stalin
Robert John Maudsley
Joseph Mengele
Dean Arnold Corll
Ted Bundy
Marilyn Manson
OJ Simpson
Paris Hilton
Margaret Thatcher
Steve Jobs
Barack Obama
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich
Napoleon Bonaparte
Marquis de Sade
Peter Sellers
Countess Erzsebet Bathory de Ecsed
Monica Lewinsky
Tom Cruise
Miley Cyrus
Kim Kardashian West
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Lady Gaga
Lindsay Lohan
Mariah Carey
Naomi Campbell
Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia

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