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review 2016-12-20 14:36
Maybe the Sky isn't Falling, It's Awfully Big You Know
The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism - Kristin Dombek

Nearly halfway through this book-length essay Kristin Dombek admits to using the kind of shallow depictions she is criticizing in other books and articles, but then it is a problem inherent to the form. How does one capture a person in 1,600 words, or even 70,000? 

 

The problem Dombek is exploring in The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism is a rash of lazy pop psychology online diagnosing pseudo-celebrities, ex-boyfriends, and an entire generation (spoiler alert: it's millennials) of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If Dombek isn't able to adequately sum up the lives of the people she brings into her arguement, it only serves her point. She may not be able to prove someone isn't a narcissist but the takeaway is that it is a very difficult thing to sum up a life, to throw a label around is a dangerous thing to do unless you can really back it up.

 

The thinness of internet diagnoses is almost comical, but Dombek, being a more serious essayist than myself, gives them an honest hearing and delves into the history of narcissism from the Greek story of Narcissus through Freud and finally to the DSM. It's a troubled history, based on misunderstanding and often reflecting as much on the diagnostician than on the diagnosed.

 

I could have been satisfied with just her chapter "The Millennial" which goes into the story of Allison, whose callousness on an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen has become legend in books and essays and in the popular conception of the narcissistic millennial. Except, of course, she has a whole life, almost none of which was the one sentence where she insisted on closing down a street that goes past a hospital for the sake of her birthday party (and I think we've all known since at least 2005 that reality shows have naught but the thinnest relation to the reality they depict, much less any reality we know).

 

"It takes only a brief Internet search, though, to flesh out a bit more bout Allison's life," Dombek says, as if no one had considered to look past the surface before judging that there was nothing behind it.

 

She's married, Dombek reports, she and her husband run a foundation to help impoverished school children in Atlanta. She got her bachelor's degree in psychology. She may be a narcissist, she may be a sociopath for all I know, but casting a diagnosis based on one moment, or on any one appearance on MTV, must necessarily be more about our own assumptions about a group than about that group itself.

 

I don't think our tendency to play armchair psychologist is all that novel or dangerous, but I think Dombek has produced a thoughtful work here that hopefully reminds us that when we decry people who live on the internet we're judging people by what we see on the internet. It's well researched but is grounded in the experience of the writer who has been thinking of these things, witness as we all are to selfies and food pics and the other wonders of social media.

 

The Selfishness of Others is a slim book for all it contains, it is focused and can be gone through quickly. Be ready for some dense psychology stuff when you get into the thick of things, but it is worth getting through.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-24 18:46
Depraved Heart: Kay Scarpetta no. 23
Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta) - Patricia Cornwell
Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta Mysteries) - Patricia Cornwell

 I am enjoying the arc of Kay's realizing first that Lucy is perhaps not just a sociopath, but also may be a dangerous sociopath; and Kay's exploration of how badly she spoiled Lucy and indulged Lucy's narcissism.

 

Kay has avoided fully acknowledging these glaring dangers with the belief that Lucy is, when it comes to her loved ones, a weapon pointing outwards from their wagon circle. But now, Kay is facing the fact that isn't true.

 

She has also avoided facing head-on the fact that Lucy's ravens have and will come to roost. Every selfish, dangerous thing she has done, every emotionally or physically violent act, every careless relationship...and every time Kay has fixed it all for her (special treatment in the Quantico dorms, for example)... consequences are and have been coming due all along.

 

 

coming this autumn: no. 24, Chaos

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text 2016-01-17 13:01
Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Pathological Narcissism

Less than 1% of general population is believed to have narcissistic personality disorder (2%-16% of clinical population) of which 50-75% are male.

 

narcissism

 

Narcissism, pathological narcissism & narcissistic personality disorder became a very popular & interesting subject for many clinicians & theorists. Most believe that some level of narcissism is healthy for a person, in order to be able to function in society & be able to face challenges, have drive for success & creativity. As to where the healthy narcissism ends & pathological begins is not exactly clear. Moreover, some believe that pathological narcissism IS narcissistic personality disorder, while others think that narcissistic personality disorder is a whole new level compared to pathological narcissism. As with any mental disorder diagnosis will vary from case to case, from society to society. Mental disorder is a dynamic concept & it never stays stale. So really the line of pathological narcissism is very blurry, unless one equals it to narcissistic personality disorder. As to when narcissism evolves into pathological personality disorder, one needs to understand what personality disorder is. Personality traits that are inflexible and maladaptive and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress constitute personality disorder.  Simply put personality traits are the way you perceive life, relate to others & environment, your thinking pattern. In other words, it all relates to individuals functioning in given society with given individuals personality traits & if those traits cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress, you’ve got yourself a personality disorder. As you can see, a fully functional human being with sound mental health in one society can become a persona with personality disorder in another society.

 

THE CHARACTERIZING SYMPTOMS OF NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER ACCORDING TO DSM-IV ARE:

  • has a grandiose feeling of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, talents, overestimates abilities, expects to be treated as special & recognized as superior)
  • is preoccupied with fantasies of huge success, power, beauty, ideal love, see themselves as a genius and often compare themselves to geniuses or famous people, depending on what they feel is important in life
  • believes that he or she is “special”, different & unique and can not be understood by “regular” people. See themselves as a part of special or high status people or institutions & believe that’s the only place where they can be understood & accepted
  • requires excessive admiration & reassurance of their achievements & superiority from others, constantly fishes for complements due to fragile self-esteem
  • has a sense of entitlement, unreasonable expectations, expects other to comply with his/her expectations & becomes furious & puzzled if it doesn’t happen, always expects special treatment
  • is interpersonally exploitative, expects others to bend their backs to help him/her achieve their goals; manipulates & takes advantage, is very likely to enter relationships for the sole purpose of achieving his/her goals or fulfilling their personal selfish needs
  • lacks empathy, unable to relate to others & put himself/herself in other people’s shoes: needs of others are often viewed as weaknesses and an opportunity to manipulate using the vulnerability, often speak lengthy of themselves & impatient with others who want to speak about their problems
  • is often envious of others and their achievements, believes that he/she deserved it more, harshly criticizes & tries to devaluate others’ achievements; also has a delusional belief that others are envious of him/her
  • shows arrogant, patronizing attitudes, overconfident & ever knowing behaviors

    Narcissists & Relationships

    Narcissists generally avoid intimacy. They are unlikely to avoid sexual contacts or “business” relationships, but they tend to avoid entering a real relationship, mostly without even realizing this themselves. Much of this is caused by many of their personality traits, like inability to trust other people, inability to relate to others, inability to like others because of their sense of superiority & grandiosity. Finding & being in intimate relationships is a difficult task for people with NPD, however being in such relationships greatly reduces their dependence on reinforcing their self-esteem on sexual attractiveness, mental superiority or power. Relationships & attachments, need for achievements at work are probably some of the best recipes to tame down their excessive individualism. Narcissists generally have fantasies of ideal unconditional love. Given a reason to doubt the unconditionality of it, they’ll run away faster than you can imagine. Many people who are in relationships with narcissists make the mistake thinking that that the narcissist is likely to change. Unfortunately, these people are blinded by their own delusions & are setting themselves up for disappointment, because changes are unlikely to happen.


    So I pretty much just copy and pasted some of the more interesting (in my opinion) points of this particular disorder. To read more click here >>>  http://depressiond.com/narcissistic-personality-disorder/
Source: depressiond.org/narcissistic-personality-disorder
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review 2015-08-02 16:19
I wish I had known about this years ago.
Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad-and Surprising Good-About Feeling Special - Dr. Craig Malkin

In the age of social media, this book especially caught my eye. I was familiar with the old story of Narcissus, but when I was actually in a friendship with someone who I truly, really do think is a narcissist, I did not make the connection. 

 

Author Malkin takes the reader though what is narcissism: what is healthy, what are some of the subtle differences, what are aspects of narcissism, etc. Yes, there is a quiz in the beginning of the book, and when you take it you can think about how the results apply to you in the next chapters when he discusses how to cope dealing with people who are in different situations: as parents, at work, in relationships and friendships.

 

Overall I found the book gave me a lot of food for thought. When reading through his descriptions, some of these really rang true for the situation I experienced, although I was too young and too inexperienced at the time to know that I was looking at symptoms of something. It was helpful and interesting, although not a 100% correlation, which didn't bother me (maybe it's my memory, maybe it's because there were other dynamics at play).

 

However, I wish there were more. He gave several anecdotes of various patients he sees, but for the most part they were really boring. I wasn't interested in these people talking about themselves (which is something I grew to hate with my former friend). I wish he had discussed MORE about how to move up the narcissism scale. I also wonder whether "narcissism" may need a bit of relabeling--there's healthy self-confidence, and then there's self-centered, selfish me me me narcissism.

 

I also object to his use of "introverted narcissists." He says that these people "shy away from, and even seem panicked by, people and attention." (Pg 34). By definition, introverts are not necessarily shy and do not necessarily panic around people and attention. Some certainly do, but introversion is about where you get your energy (introverts prefer smaller, one on one types of interaction whereas extroverts like bigger groups and get their energy from interacting with people). While I can agree with some of the other terms the author uses, "covert" or "hypersensitive," I don't think I can agree with his term of "introverted narcissists." Which is NOT to say introverts cannot be narcissists, because they certainly can be.

 

I don't regret picking it up from the library but I'd say this is definitely more of a "borrow" or "get cheap" rather than a must buy.

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review 2014-02-17 20:10
Cloned & Curious by Kimbra Clausen
Cloned and Curious - Kimbra Clausen

“You want to film me fucking myself.”

 

Man is lured into participating in a super-secret medical trial. Man is unknowingly cloned, pumped with viagra and anti-anxiety drugs to lower inhibitions, then locked in a room with his clone. What happens next? Bow-chica-wow-wow.

 

Narcissus, from Greek mythology, ‘saw his reflection and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image.’

 

Narcissus painting

 

So, is this a form of extreme narcissism? An odd kind of masturbation?

 

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