To clarify. (Sorry about the fudge factor in previous post! Sloppy writing, I know.)
Selfishness (and “selfie-ness”) is not the same as narcissism.
Selfishness is a general attribute of most living animals on Earth. It is part of survival. People have it to greater or lesser extent; but even Mother Theresa could justify just enough selfishness for herself to eat her food despite being fully aware that somewhere in Somalia, a child was starving to death.
“Selfie-ness”, the type of “narcissism” our teenagers are being accused of for posting self-portraits on Selfbook… I mean, Facebook, is basically a trend. It is the recognition that if you’re always the person behind the camera, you’re never included in those memory shots. I also think it’s boredom. Nothing to do, idle, no violin practice to look forward to (practice as a noun, okay)… what shall I do? Take another idle selfie, post it on Facebook, wait for friends to comment. I don’t think it’s a serious threat to the teens’ sanity.
Narcissism on the other hand is a well-defined psychological disorder. Its features:
- Delusion, i.e. the belief that one is perfect.
- Grandiosity, imagining oneself to be super-human, almost God-like.
- Expectations of entitlement – the concept that the world owes you, but owes you BIG.
- Lack of empathy – a distinct lack of interest in and caring for other people.
Further investigation reveals that though narcissism is used in psychology as (1) synonymous with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder), (2) as describing a set of symptoms within other disorders too (such as e.g. sociopathy), and (3) as describing a “healthy narcissist”, i.e. a person showing lack of empathy, entitlement and grandiosity but without being deluded or having a poor self-image at the root, …
it is also commonly used in English as synonymous with a selfish person.
(We dislike such inaccuracies in language! What a jolly overused word!)
Concerning the pathological narcissist then:
If you look at a normal teenager (with “selfie-pathology” or not) vs a narcissist responding to an injured dog lying in the road:
The normal teen will immediately try to help the animal. She (for argument’s sake, but obviously boys do the same) will try to move the animal out of harm’s way; stroke it, talk to it, try to soothe its pain; and try to get help. Either by calling the SPCA or by asking her parents to take the dog home, have a vet examine it and pamper it back to health.
Possibly the “selfie-ish” teen will post piccies of herself with the dog all over Facebook. This does not make her a narcissist even if she takes credit for her own good deeds after the fact.
The narcissist will walk straight by, not even noticing the dog. She will be far too preoccupied with what she looks like walking in her new high heels.
Narcissists have no empathy for other living beings. They lack the imagination that this dog needs help.
If you are the type that tries to get help for the doggie, you are not a narcissist.
There, have I cleared that up?
I just couldn’t resist posting a story scene here. We had such fun constructing this one, Hubbs and me, and the kids loved commenting on it.
Dana is an alien. Radomir Lascek is, contrary to popular belief, human. He can be pompous and grandiose, but he is also very, very caring in an extremely hands-on way, rescuing broken wings almost to the point of pathology.
“The reason I’m here,” said Dana sweetly.
“I’ve been thinking, Dana,” said Radomir Lascek. He had to do this now, or he might never be able to again. The brandy had been a bad idea on the whole, but at least it had clarified this for him. “All these years I’ve been waiting for you. I’m now Supreme Ruler of Earth.” He sat down on the bunk next to her, to be on eye level. This was critical. His whole soul was on the line here. “I know that the systems on New Dome work differently. But would you consider playing this the way of Earth and becoming my wife?”
“Your wife?” echoed Dana, looking puzzled.
“Permanent partner,” explained Lascek.
“I know what a wife is, you slow-wit,” laughed Dana. “What an unusual idea, Radomir! Is this an effort to get out of your part of the contract?”
“Dana,” he said, “you are the one woman I’ve never been able to forget! Please, would you consider my request? Would you marry me? Be mine forever, until I die?”
He held his breath as she digested his proposal. He had waited twenty years for this moment.
Dana gazed at him in amazement. “You baffle me, Radomir! What a common idea! There can only be one Supreme Ruler, as you know. You are unwilling to relinquish Earth to me, and you think I’ll be content with subordinating myself to you, in exchange for what I can have at any time in any case, for the asking? To use a very overused expression from your own planet: Why buy the ox if you can have the milk for free?”
“Cow,” corrected Radomir Lascek, shattered. She had turned him down.
“Is this the usual response of an Earth male not getting his way?” asked Dana. “To get insulting?”
Radomir Lascek jumped up and poured himself another brandy. He couldn’t give up on her this easily. “Dana, I beg you!”
“Don’t beg,” she told him. “It’s demeaning to both of us.” She got up from the bunk too and strolled around the cabin like a cat. “Oh, look! A game of chess! I didn’t know that you still play, Radomir! Winning as usual?” She reached out to move one of the pieces.
“Don’t touch that!” snapped Lascek. “Still want to finish that game!”
“So sensitive,” purred Dana, withdrawing her hand from the black rook.
- Series: The Solar Wind, Book 4
If the crew of the Solar Wind thought the Unicate and the Rebellion were tough cookies, they haven’t yet met the Danaan – from Planet New Dome. Coming to take over Earth – or destroy the planet. Or alternatively, for a mango daiquiri in the subtropical paradise of Southern Free. And then destroy the planet. More