Category Archives: Philosophizing

Am I a secret NARCISSIST? Are YOU?

Short answer: I don’t think so…? I hope not…?

My sister linked to this Huffington Post article today.  I think that pretty much anything from the Huffington Post is hilarious, but this especially so.

“23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert.”

Admittedly, I don’t know who Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., is, nor do I know whether it was his choice to include the “Ph.D.” But tacking on Ph.D. in this way makes him look, well, like an insecure narcissist. I do think that this whole argument about overt and covert narcissists is silly, though, especially the little quiz at the end (for the record: according to this test, I am not a narcissist). This question bugs me in particular: “Even when I am in a group of friends, I often feel very alone and uneasy.” I am no expert, and certainly not a PhD, but what on earth does that have to do with narcissism, or even introversion? It sounds more like depression and alienation to me. Feeling alone in a group of friends suggests a yearning for connection, something that can strike extroverts and introverts alike (or so I assume). I can imagine that a narcissist might feel “alone” in the sense of having “no true peers,” but uneasy? Bah.

Aside from the quiz, though, I take issue with further dividing people into these kinds of categories. What does it serve, other than navel-gazing? What do any of these divisions contribute? [An aside: I took one of those MBTI tests in school and a few times on the Internet, each time coming back as INTJ (supposedly the super special rarest type). I've met several others who have tested as INTJ. This seems suspicious to me. It suggests to me that either I happen to magically attract people of the same type or the whole super-special-rareness thing, and the test itself, is a load of crock.] So now we have extroverts, introverts, secret-narcissists-who-aren’t-really-introverts (because you can’t be an introverted narcissist, right?), sensitive types, anxious types, overt narcissists… and so forth. Why can’t we just say that some people are full of themselves and leave it at that? And at what point is someone crippled by anxiety and feelings of worthlessness and at what point is he or she simply obsessed with him or herself? And why is it worse to be a covert narcissist than an overt narcissist?

Now, I’m sure there are genuine narcissists out there. It is true that some narcissists like to wallow about being misunderstood (teenagers and anyone with a blog ahahahaha).  I don’t like the idea, however, of suggesting that those who think of themselves as sensitive introverts are secretly narcissists, and the worst kind of narcissist at that. It could be true for all I know, but I’m not dealing with facts, damn it. And why make that assumption about people?

No, I suspect that this load of nonsense is really a way for overbearing extroverts to make themselves feel better about making their more introverted conversation partners feel unattended and trampled upon. Has your quiet friend suddenly snapped and told you that he or she feels misunderstood, as if his or her feelings don’t matter? Must be a narcissist. Has he told you that he doesn’t feel comfortable in a crowd? Has she told you she feels insecure? Narcissists.

To be fair, this is from the article:

Let’s clarify something here: Narcissism is definitely not the same thing as introversion.

Have you ever met someone who constantly tells you how “sensitive” and “introverted” they are, but all you actually see is selfishness and egocentricity? I’m sure you have, because these people exist in spades.

While the “overt” narcissists tended to be aggressive, self-aggrandizing, exploitative, and have extreme delusions of grandeur and a need for attention, “covert” narcissists were more prone to feelings of neglect or belittlement, hypersensitivity, anxiety, and delusions of persecution.

Well… okay… except that this still all comes down to perception. A well-adjusted person sees someone who seems to be suffering (because who wants to feel neglected, belittled, hypersensitive, anxious, or persecuted?) and decides, oh wow, look how obsessed this guy is with his own feelings and state of mind. Must be a narcissist. Why can’t he just get over himself?

Aren’t we beyond this by now? Aren’t we beyond telling those suffering from depression to just get some exercise? There are serious issues here, ones that can have tragic consequences, and brushing it off as covert narcissism helps no one. Those symptoms of covert narcissism listed by the author are a pretty big deal: anyone identifying with that list should seek help.

But really, this is a Huffington Post article, so I wasn’t expecting much. More than anything I’m surprised they didn’t take it as an excuse for some hipster-mocking.

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