Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Are you a narcissist? Take this test.

Narcissism is sometimes a cradle-to-grave affliction, with family members, co-workers, lovers and others paying a price.  (Jeffrey Kluger, The Narcissts Next Door)

Dr Abe V Rotor

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Excerpted from the narcissistic personality inventory developed by Robert Raskin and Howard Terry as reported by Jeffrey Kluger, The Little Narcissists, Time September 1, 2014
Here are two photos from the Internet to illustrate the two faces of narcissism syndrome - extreme love of oneself, typically "the Narcissus in Greek mythology looking at his image on the lake all day," (left photo), and conceitedness as to be too cold to feel the love of another, as in the case of Echo the nymph of the forest who was deeply in love for Narcissus only to be tragically unreciprocated.  (Acknowledgement: Internet)  

Never in recorded history of mankind had Narcissus the symbol of self-centeredness ever possessed so many people, particularly the young, as he has today - what with the invention of the selfie (other-directed camera), fashion unlimited (Lady Gaga, Madonna), flashy cars (move over Old Ford), explosion of knowledge (Computer Age), social media (Cell phone, Tablet et al), urbanization (Metropolises, megapolises), consumerism (lifeblood of capitalism). 

What and where is the origin of this egocentrism?

In The Little Narcissists, small children, by their very nature " ... are greedy, demanding, violent, selfish, impulsive and utterly remorseless." They fight with playmates and siblings but scream in pain and indignation if they are attacked in return. They expect to be adored but not disciplined, rewarded but never penalized, cared for and served by parents and family without caring or serving reciprocally.

But it is also a kind of narcissism that babies need for their very survival.  Sigmund Freud in his book His Majesty the Baby called this as primary narcissism, which is not true narcissism because babies are not moved by greed and guile but the primal need to live. Psychologists explain that the seeds of the behaviors that turn into genuine narcissism aren't scattered throughout the baby's temperament.  Just like seeds of other personality disorders - tantrums that, if not brought to heels, become histrionic personality disorder later in life, the deep need for love and attention, and the rage at their absence, that in an adult is called borderline personality disorder.  

The narcissism that babies exhibit is a phase that passes, so that as they grow up they become aware of the limits of their behavior - though it is a lesson that they must learn through their formative years. 

Is narcissism hereditary?  A study of identical twins showed that when one member of the pair was narcissistic, there was a 77% chance the other would be too - something that was not true of fraternal twins, whose genes are more similar than those of other siblings.  

A commonly accepted theory is a mask model of narcissism, the idea that the self-absorption and egotism of the narcissist are a pose to mask their opposite: a deep well of self loathing and low self-esteem. An opposing theory is that the grandiosity of the narcissist is just what it seems: a consuming self-regard, perhaps fostered by overindulgent parents.
Narcissism is psychopathology.  It is characterized by a virtually bottomless appetite for attention and rewards, and numbness on how others suffer. Narcissism however, is a built-in evolutionary tool for survival starting at birth and nurtured through the years of growing up. This is where proper guidance comes in from the family, school, community, and through education and proper environment. There's one little consolation though - narcissism, like any personality disorder may also simply mellow a bit with age. 

Check the answer in each pair that comes closest to describing you.  Don't leave any pairs blank. 

A  I have  natural talent in influencing people. 
B  I am not good at influencing people.

A When people complement me, I sometimes get embarrassed.  
B I know I am good because everybody keeps telling me so. 

A I am no better or worse than most people. 
B I think I am a special person. 

A  I will be a success.
B I am not too concerned about being a success.

A The thought of ruling the world frightens the hell out of me. 
B If I ruled the world, it will be a better place. 

A I try not to show off.
B I usually show off if I get the chance.

A Sometimes I tell good stories.
B Everybody likes to to hear my stories.

A I expect a great deal from other people.
B I like to do things for other people 

A I will never be satisfied until I get all that I deserve.
B I take my satisfactions as they come.

A I wish someday somebody would write my biography.  
B I don't like people to pry into my life for any reason.

Scoring Key
Score one point for each time you checked A in Nos. 1,4,8,9, or 10.
Score one point for each time you checked B in Nos. 2,3,5,6, or 7.

What it Means
The average score is 4.  The higher your score above that, the more narcissistic you might be. 

Romantic paintings of Narcissus endlessly admiring his beauty day after day until he fell into the lake and drown. Echo, the nymph of the forest seduces the proud Narcissus only to be coldly unreciprocated. In deep sorrow she vanishes and becomes the echo of the mountains. (Acknowledgement: Internet photos)

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