August 17, 2016

"So where Freud once wrote that 'the type of female most frequently met with' tended to love narcissistically, we are now more likely to apply that characterization to men."

"'If there’s one thing a girl with a bad boyfriend has,' Dombek notes,' it’s the moral upper hand in the religion of mental health.' Here, she turns to the corner of the Internet she calls the 'narcisphere,' a collection of blogs and forums in which women, mostly, solidify a sense of their superior powers of empathy and raise their collective consciousness about surviving narcissism and about narcissism-induced P.T.S.D. 'If you are an especially giving person, warns the Internet, you are a prime target for narcissists,' Dombek writes. The narcisphere has a gendered inverse, which some call the manosphere and which is dedicated to teaching men how to dominate women by feigning self-confidence. This is the realm of pickup artistry. It is much worse than the narcisphere.... The story of the narcissist is, in part, a story of the people around him pleading for empathy, insisting that we should all care more about one another. And yet somehow this account of the world has become 'a story that divides us, by defining empathy as something we have and others lack,' Dombek writes. Perhaps in pathologizing narcissism, we have forgotten how perilous it is to constantly diagnose other people. In the end, what 'The Selfishness of Others' lays out most clearly is not the danger of narcissism but, rather, the danger of any particular world view that requires, for the sake of consistency, its owner to believe that she is good."

From "WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DECIDE EVERYONE ELSE IS A NARCISSIST," a New Yorker article by Jia Tolentino about "An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism" by Kristin Dombek (in the book "The Selfishness of Others").

45 comments:

rhhardin said...

I can do self-confidence, I think.

Yancey Ward said...

I once planned to make a New Years resolution to be more self-confident, but in the end I knew I could never pull it off.

traditionalguy said...
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traditionalguy said...

That is the first popular article on the dangers of Narcissists that makes a discussion that is anywhere close to being a correct description. It has nothing to do with selfishness, which is totally normal compared to pretending to be sacrificially loving everyone.

Narcissism is usually a man using manipulative power to demand that all others serve the self image of the narcissist or be destroyed.

Apply that to Obama.

mezzrow said...

Enough about that, what about me?

mockturtle said...

It has become trendy to apply psychopathology to what is, in fact, anything that annoys us about another person. Lack of recognition of our own flaws makes us very intolerant of others'. In short, immaturity.

n.n said...
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buwaya said...

The author, Jia Tolentino, is one of ours, a Pinay.
For a feminist staffer at silly-feminist Gawker/Jezebel she seems fairly reasonable.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Freudian bullshit.

jdniner said...

Does anyone really understand Narcissism? It can be good and bad. IMO. A lot of the negative effects of it are propelled by drugs and alcoholism.

buwaya said...

Jia Tolentino is a rather clumsy writer though.
(and who am I to talk, I can't do as well)

jdniner said...

RE: The New York Times. I fail to see how anyone thinks there is quality writing at the NYT. When I see a NYT byline I only read the story with a cautious eye. The National Enquirer or the Sacramento Bee are better at journalism. One could fire the complete staff at the NYT and replace them with 10th graders and the output would be 10 times more professional. These are the elite who are corrupt because they have lost the common touch. These days it is much better to pick the story before you pick the outlet.

jdniner said...

The only way to be successful with women is to listen to them and not react just logically. Respond with thoughts. Small thoughts that show you love them. Constantly. It why women like dance. The whole process is there.

If someone says the word patriarchy they are not your friend. They are on that soft Marxist path to make you miserable. So the exception to the rule is never say " You are such a sweet Marxist" run as fast as you can away from that person and bolt your door and warn your kids.

tim in vermont said...

The grass is always greener over the septic tank.

tim in vermont said...
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Sebastian said...

Haven't read the piece yet, but looks like it describes a win-win situation, for men who get to be narcissists and women who get to feel superior. Of course, that doesn't account for the O's, narcissists who also think they are morally superior.

YoungHegelian said...

rather, the danger of any particular world view that requires, for the sake of consistency, its owner to believe that she is good."

You mean, like the entire post-Marxist Left, which has reduced human history to a morality play in which they are the only heroes?

J. Farmer said...

This is one of the ways that already poorly constructed diagnostic criteria from the DSM gets watered down at the novice level and enters the popular lexicon. Personality disorders are notoriously tricky to even describe let alone diagnose. The only one I've ever been able to pick up on relatively quickly is Borderline Personality, probably because it has such a distinct cluster of symptoms. The DSM is notorious for containing a lot of arbitrary criteria, like having to show 3 of some list of symptoms plus one of 2 plus being within specified timeframes. It's much more of a political book than a scientific one.

YoungHegelian said...

Oh, pish-posh (forgive my language...)! Women are every bit as narcissistic as men. Their version of narcissism just doesn't involve sexual predation very often, but it sure involves sucking every little thing in their orbit into their self-regard.

And once again, it pays to check original source materials. Go check any PUA web site. They never recommend lying about your feelings to the woman. Even with the opening approach, the true PUA is supposed to let the woman know that his interest is sexual.

I'm as far from being a PUA as possible, & have little moral sympathy for treating women like that. But, the misrepresentations of what that demimonde is all about are everywhere, especially among women's publications that exist to nurse grudges.

n.n said...
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wild chicken said...

The New Yorker != the New York Times.

Criminy.

Zach said...

Wait, narcissism is a male thing now? The author has never tried dating in the Bay Area, I guess.

With regard to turning ordinary personality flaws into diagnoses, I agree with reservations. Narcissism was a description of a personality type before it was a diagnosis. Many people are in love with themselves to an unhealthy and off putting degree without rising to the level of psychiatric disorder.

Zach said...

Continuing with the Bay Area theme, you can't help but notice an array of behaviors closely related to self regard. Go to an internet dating site and you will be deluged by this:

1) Attention getting body modification -- tattoos, dyed hair, extensive piercings
2) Extreme puritanism and conspicuous dedication to "virtuous" causes
3) Self promotion, advertising prestigious schools / jobs / other affiliations

Is that useful for predicting who should be locked up in the loony bin? No. Is it useful for deciding who you should and shouldn't date? Heck, yes.

n.n said...

Self-indulgence in the privacy of State-approved sanctuaries.

Fernandinande said...

mockturtle said...
It has become trendy to apply psychopathology to what is, in fact, anything that annoys us about another person.


From an evolutionary perspective, we will argue, some of the disorders recognized in standard manuals like DSM-IV may turn out not to be disorders at all. The people who have these conditions don’t have problems; they just cause problems!

Paul Snively said...

Is narcissism even a reasonable category governing distinct, observable behavior in a world of social media and "building your personal brand?"

Ignorance is Bliss said...

My working assumption is that anyone who thinks they have a lot of empathy actually has a mood disorder. They recognize that the emotions they are feeling are not related to their current circumstances, and therefore look for an external cause. Since there is always someone else around with good reason to feel what the 'empathetic' person is feeling, they assume that they are picking up other people's emotions. The do not recognize that the emotions they feel are caused by their own disorder.

Bob Loblaw said...

The New Yorker != the New York Times.

True. The New Yorker is the NYT with better prose and even worse thinking.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The gendered inverse is much worse?

Jonathan Graehl said...

fully self-centered people (as in: not aware of or looking for any reward from doing a good turn for others) are commonplace now. they're missing out. it's easy to slip toward being one.

loving yourself is harmless - it's insisting that others praise+acknowledge+validate your positional worth that's irritating and a happiness treadmill.

as usual when you find communities of people talking about how to deal with psychological flaws in the out-group, you'll hear some pretty self-unaware cringemaking self-serving nonsense.

people should, if needed, fake confidence enough to offer their observations and make proposals, face to face, without apologizing. if you don't, it's harder for everyone.

Freeman Hunt said...

"When you hear the word “narcissist,” who comes to mind, aside from everyone?"

What if no one comes to mind?

Oh, no! That must mean that other people aren't of concern, and one is a narcissist!

Freeman Hunt said...

Oh, no! And thinking that must mean that one is a neurotic!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

"For all your subtlety, you lack wisdom."

That's from one of the Lord of the Rings movies, and merely from memory.

I think that it was a line delivered by Denethor [sp?] to Gandolf, and it was supposed to be damning by it's misapplication.

Still, some mental effort amounts to little more than mental masturbation.

And yet some people like to watch . . . Eve.

Yeah, I know, another . . . m o v i e .

Freeman Hunt said...

"In the end, what “The Selfishness of Others” lays out most clearly is not the danger of narcissism but, rather, the danger of any particular world view that requires, for the sake of consistency, its owner to believe that she is good."

That's an intelligent thought, and it makes me want to read the book even though it's not about something I'm particularly interested in.

Laslo Spatula said...

Is it Narcissism to believe every woman should suck your cock, or is it Prophecy?

I wrestle with that.

With empathy.

I am Laslo.

mockturtle said...

Is it Narcissism to believe every woman should suck your cock, or is it Prophecy?

Neither. It's called 'wishful thinking'. ;-)

Laslo Spatula said...

There have been Times when a woman has been sucking my cock and she tries to Deep Throat me, get ALL of it in. And -- bless her -- she tries and she tries, she opens her jaws wider than she ever thought she could, but she Can't Quite Get There.

But she keeps trying, and there is sloppy saliva in strands like lubricious spider webs, there is muffled gagging, there is AMBITION.

I tell her it's Okay, your disability to get all of my cock down your throat does not make me think any less of you as a Woman.

THAT is Empathy.

I am Laslo.

mockturtle said...

Do people still fuck? Or is it all oral nowadays?

Jon Ericson said...

My friend tells me his wife ouchies when fucking, she likes to suck the dick.

chrisnavin.com said...

I feel like the comments here don't express enough empathy.

Ethics meet-ups are now mandatory, and will continue until morality improves.

Xmas said...

The PUA community doesn't teach men how to dominate women. It teaches men some women are self-absorbed narcissists who can be easily manipulated by pointing out their flaws. That, and the better you present yourself, the more physically attractive the women interested in you will be.

The 'narcisphere' sounds like the 'projectionsphere'.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Laslo, where is your morality?

Why don't you help the poor girl? I'm surprised at you.

Paul Snively said...

Eric the Fruit Bat: I think that it was a line delivered by Denethor [sp?] to Gandolf, and it was supposed to be damning by it's misapplication.

Yes, indeed, and so all the more ironic, considering that Denethor's "wisdom" was, in fact, insanity brought on by looking into a Palantir. In the film's documentary material, Tom Shippey, who has a number of insightful things to say about the nature of the One Ring and Tolkien's conception of evil that, whether wittingly or not, greatly underscore the influence of Tolkien's Catholicism on the story, claims that looking into a Palantir shows you something true, but encourages you to draw the wrong conclusion. But I don't have any idea what, from the source material, supports the latter conclusion. Rather, I think everyone who looks into a Palantir simply falls into the very human (or Hobbit, or Elven, or...) habit of overinterpreting what they see. Denethor has seen Frodo captured by the Orcs in Cirith Ungol after his encounter with Shelob. He therefore assumes that the One Ring is, or very soon will be, back in Sauron's hands, and all is therefore lost. Coupled with the loss of Boromir and the mind-bending power of looking into a Palantir at all, this has driven him insane.

I mention this at some length because, frankly, even after having read the books dozens of times, it was only John Noble's classically Shakespearean performance in the films that allowed me to understand what had happened to him, why he believed what he believed, why he was so distraught over Boromir and dismissive of Faramir, and why, ultimately, he committed suicide in his delusion. I still can't find any sympathy for him. But I no longer find him simply incomprehensible.

Paul Snively said...

"In the end, what “The Selfishness of Others” lays out most clearly is not the danger of narcissism but, rather, the danger of any particular world view that requires, for the sake of consistency, its owner to believe that she is good."

It's perhaps worth pointing out that this is exactly, and explicitly, the ethos of "The Others" on "Lost." Consider all the times Benjamin Linus simply says, straightforwardly, "We're the good guys" or "We're not bad people." If you made it through all six seasons, you have a lot of information as to why Ben needed to tell himself, and therefore others, that.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Everyone is the hero of their own movie, I think that's pretty uncontroversial. (No absolutes to be sure but I think the exceptions would be rare, and interesting.)