Friday, April 23, 2004

warning: this post can only be understood by other special or high-status people (or institutions)

Various webloggers ensconced within the Madison Ivory Tower have recently complained about being called "narcissistic" by their peers (see posts, e.g., here and here). I have also had this charge levelled at me--or people with weblogs generally--since starting this weblog, including by one person who then went and began her own weblog(s). Just for reference, I have included below the actual DSM-IV criteria for diagnosing a person as having narcissistic personality disorder. My very first act upon starting a weblog was to write the introduction above, which offers its own take on Criterion #1. But which of the other four are supposedly so endemic to blogging?

Although I am pretty confident that (a) I don't have any personality disorder and (b) if I did, narcissistic is not the most likely one, I am now gamely trying to figure out how I would order the extent to which I could be accused of each of the symptoms below. I guess I would go with this order: (1), (4*), (9), (3), (2) -- and now we get into a battle among traits that I don't think describe me AT ALL, but for the sake of completeness -- (6), (8), (5), (7).
301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
* I once had a professor very jovially tell me in graduate school that he had seen a book in the children's section of a bookstore that he wanted to buy for me. The book was entitled something like Look What I Can Do! and on every page was a child doing something and the words "Look What I Can Do!". I wasn't sure exactly how I was supposed to take that.

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