Recently, I attended a lecture and the woman who sat in front of me took countless selfies of herself throughout the talk.
And I mean countless.
I couldn’t get over it.
It was so distracting.
But it was comical too.
After each picture, I was sure she was done. Then she’d pucker her lips, tilt her head and angle the phone just right, before snapping yet another one.
This woman had no shame. None!
She didn’t care about the people all around her.
She didn’t care about what was happening on the stage.
I truly could not understand her behavior. It was the most outrageous, fascinating, self-centered thing I’d ever witnessed.
Maybe her behavior seemed outlandish and foreign to me because I’m so not a narcissist.
I’m not saying that this woman was a narcissist because I’m not qualified to diagnose, but I’d say it was a safe bet. Anyone who could stare at herself for that long, preening and posing, so completely self-absorbed, has got to be one.
I’m also not saying that just because someone takes selfies and posts regularly on social media they are a narcissist, I’m just saying they can be. You can tell by content who is and who isn’t.
The word narcissist comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus, who was known for his beauty. He was in love with himself and broke the hearts of many lovers. The gods, wanting to punish him, lured him to a pool where he fell in love with his own reflection. When he realized he couldn’t embrace the object of his desire, he killed himself.
Seriously, there are grave consequences for narcissistic behavior.
If you’re curious about yourself (or someone you know) take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory test.
The test asks you to pick one of two statements. For example:
I prefer to blend in with the crowd.
I like to be the center of attention.
Sometimes I tell good stories.
Everybody likes to hear my stories.
I am more capable than other people.
There is a lot I can learn from other people.
At the end, you add your score.
I got a 3 out of 40 -— so as I suspected — not a narcissist.
But are you?
If you don’t feel like taking the test, studies show you can ask yourself one simple question…
Am I a narcissist?
Narcissists, it turns out, will often answer YES — And proudly!
This is because they do not see their narcissism as a bad thing.
They admit to being arrogant.
They admit that they brag.
They know others view them less positively than they view themselves but they don’t care!
Researchers believe that narcissism is on the rise.
Pop songs in the 60’s had lyrics like “come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody come together,” and in the 70’s we had “teach your children well” (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).
By the 80’s, we were listening to “Don’t You Want Me, Baby” (Human League) and in the 90’s “I’m Too Sexy” (Right Said Fred).
“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.” – Kurt Cobain
In addition, one of my own children feels perfectly entitled to eating the top half of a muffin and leaving the bottom behind. He/she truly doesn’t see anything wrong with it.
In The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, the authors claim that five times as many Americans undergo plastic surgery than just ten years ago and that today college students won’t leave their professor’s office until their B+ becomes an A-.
The DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:
*Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
*Expecting to be recognized as superior
*Exaggerating your achievements and talents
*Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, beauty
*Believing that you are better than and can only be understood by equally special people
*Need constant adoration
*Have a sense of entitlement
*Taking advantage of others to get what you want
*Inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Sound like anyone you know?