Am I a narcissist?
My theory about #MeToo guys is they’re narcissists, and shamelessly so because narcissists never realize they are narcissists.
Narcissists are ignorant and apathetic. They don’t know and they don’t care. That’s what makes them narcissists.
My theory also makes me wonder, somewhat in fright: If I don’t think I’m a narcissist, could that be evidence I actually am one? Albeit not given to #MeToo anyone?
On the other hand, if I worry about being a narcissist, then by definition does that mean I’m not one?
On the third hand, if I obsess too much about whether I’m a narcissist, does that tip me into narcissism?
My convoluted logic aside, the dictionary definition of narcissist — “a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves” — clears me somewhat, since I mostly bore and loathe myself. In a bemused and healthy way, of course.
The original narcissist, we all know, was the pulchritudinous Greek stud-muffin Νάρκισσος (think Zach Galifianakis) who fell in love with his sexy reflection in a pool of water.
So lusty was Νάρκισσος/Galifianakis’ self-love he tried to #MeToo himself and tumbled ass-first into the pool (don’t ask), where he then instantly developed gills and became Nautilus, the Greek god of garage-sale exercise machines.
Today, “narcissist” has become one of those once specific clinical maladies in the DSM — the legendary “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” — that has become so completely overused and misused as to lose real meaning, along with OCD, ADHD, chocoholic, Insane in the Membrane and #MAGA.
Ex-lovers sometimes misuse the term “narcissist” to describe their ex-lovers when they really mean “inexplicably found me unacceptable.”
To be serious for a moment, narcissists who #MeToo people need to be held accountable, from outing and shaming to jailing, depending on the harassment or abuse.
No joking about that. #BelieveHer, #TimesUp.
The DSM-5 describes “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” as, “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.”
A clinical narcissist has “a grandiose sense of self-importance”; is “preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love”; “requires excessive admiration”; has “unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations”; is “interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends”; “lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others”; and so on.
This, contrary to the “enemy of the people” mainstream media, doesn’t sound at all like our current president, who doesn’t deliberately lie and spread unfounded rumors, fear-monger, whip up mob anger and hatred, insult people who disagree with him, gleefully divide the country, etc., to feed his massive ego.
Ihave no standing to judge the president, or any people who are in love with him, or any narcissist at all.
I worry day and night and even on weekends and vacations and during intimate moments with a loved one or myself about my excessive interest in myself.
For example, I once began to wonder why one of my favorite songs is the English Beat’s “Mirror in the Bathroom.” You know:
Mirror in the bathroom
Please talk free
The door is locked
Just you and me
Can I take you to a restaurant
That’s got glass tables
You can watch yourself
While you are eating
Mirror in the bathroom
I just can’t stop it
Every Saturday you see me
Find no interest in the
Racks and shelves
Just a thousand reflections
Of my own sweet self, self, self
One day, when talking to my own mirror in the bathroom, I reflected on my obsession with the song. Then I said to my reflection,“I’ll bet you think this song is about you, don’t you, don’t you?”
After which, disturbed by the answer, I took down all the mirrors in my home except for my shower shaving mirror, which is too steamed up from seeing my reflection even to shave.
There was a time, I’m ashamed to admit, when I admired my reflection in any mirror.
In certain light, angles and distances, I was blessed by my DNA and imagination with a certain rakish gargoyle charm that doesn’t frighten all sensitive children into therapy.
Imagine me as Steve Buscemi in ghoulish movie makeup and worse dentistry, but not as rakish as he is.
All this talk about narcissism leads me to ponder:
· Did you ever wonder why our eyesight fades as we get older? It’s so we see ourselves, mates and friends exactly as we always did and not worry that we’re all decaying. Same with hearing and sense of smell.
· Did you ever walk by a mirror in the department store, get a fleeting glance at yourself from the corner of your eye not realizing, at first, it was you, and wonder, “Who is that attractive person?” Me neither!
· Upon meeting someone for a first date who is shocked to notice you look significantly more blobby-crusty-melty, like an oven-baked macaroni and cheese, than your old date-site photos convey, and date leaves abruptly upon receiving an urgent text message that a second cousin’s cat might be vomiting its own wet fur, weren’t you glad you picked a restaurant that’s got glass tables so you can watch yourself while you are eating? Me neither. Not recently.
In rare selfless moments, sometimes I think we should forgive the narcissists who are not me.
After all, we’re in the Age of Narcissism, when the “Me Generation” — the Baby Boomers — has spawned “Generation Me” — the Millennials, and cheerily stuck the young folk with our rising costs of MRIs, aqua-fitness “workouts”, ED pills and $20,000 hip replacements to get back on the over-60 community center Pickle Ball court.
We’re now all narcissists, the center of the universe. Everything is about me — my feelings, my rights, my agency, my special story, my identity, my DNA and heritage, my allergies, my politics, my media, my needs I have a right to demand that others fulfill even if I can’t, won’t or shouldn’t have to return in kind. My facts that prove my opinions, true or not, are better than your facts because they’re mine.
The new tourist ad campaign for Maine is ME, reflecting the state name abbreviation and “designed to celebrate, inspire and reward the spirit of originality,” the ad firm says. “Not just in Maine. But anywhere and with anyone that identifies by and expresses the importance of this value.”
So relax, clueless narcissists and anyone who worries about being a narcissist. It’s now OK to make it all about me. America’s new slogan is me pluribus unum.
That’s what I think.
But to quote Bette Midler in “Beaches”: “Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.