A Tidal Wave Of Narcissists?

JamesWhitehead

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The term can be bandied about casually but there are extreme cases, where narcissistic personalities appear to reach their full, horrendous potential in the hothouse of social media.

There are too many dark Youtube videos to mention, where spree-killers have documented their disintegration in plain sight of their audience.

Here is a shocking one.

Youtube is already eating itself. If we are more aware of the signs now, social media are so embedded in so many lives that their baleful influence is probably just beginning. :(
 

Ronnie Jersey

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I think autism was rarely diagnosed before. My ex's daughter was autistic, and she showed a lot of qualities I've been fighting against in myself my whole life. Sure enough, an online test suggested I was likely autistic. I don't trust those tests, and anyway parkinsons disease is my problem for the rest of my life, but it makes me wonder whether I would have been diagnosed had I been born today. Whether we're correctly treating autism is another matter.
I was just using autism as an example, it's one of the things that is so prevalent today, along with 'personality disorders', 'borderline personality', 'antisocial', the list goes on. I wonder if paying too much attention to all those things makes it worse. :)
Don't we grow out of many of these things as we grow and mature?
 

PeteByrdie

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I was just using autism as an example, it's one of the things that is so prevalent today, along with 'personality disorders', 'borderline personality', 'antisocial', the list goes on. I wonder if paying too much attention to all those things makes it worse. :)
Don't we grow out of many of these things as we grow and mature?
I certainly think we learn to function in time. There could be a lot of reasons why neurodivergence seems to be increasing. Perhaps it's more diagnoseable, which could be because of progress. Perhaps it's just more diagnosed. Perhaps it's more widely publicised. Perhaps it's genuinely increasing, which could be due to any number of environmental factors. Perhaps an increase in genuine cases has increased the likelihood it'll be diagnosed. I choose to let the experts untangle it all, because anything else is just speculation. But I do think some people have genuine problems and I wouldn't want them to not have help available because thee pendulum swings the other way and people don't get the diagnosis they should have.
 

Mythopoeika

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It's thought that those with a propensity to ND more often work together than in the olden days (in technical fields) and so, given one's life partner is commonly met through work, the result is more ND children.
Interestingly, my friend's son was diagnosed as having ADHD, and his wife has some degree of autism. They had a child - and, yes - that child has autism and ADHD. It does seem to be inheritable.
 

PeteByrdie

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It's thought that those with a propensity to ND more often work together than in the olden days (in technical fields) and so, given one's life partner is commonly met through work, the result is more ND children.
That's an interesting thought. I have to say that none of the autistic kids I've known fit that background, but generally that could have an impact.
 

Mikefule

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People are too keen to diagnose themselves with conditions that are no laughing matter for those who really have them. "I'm a bit Asperger's" (I pay attention to detail) "It's my OCD..." (I like things to be tidy) "I'm a depressive" (When things aren't going well, I feel a bit glum) and so on.

I have friends whose lives have been made incredibly difficult by having real Asperger's, real OCD, and real depression. Strangely, a mental health issue or neurodivergence has acquired some sort of cachet, at least amongst those who are looking for a way to present themselves as "special".

We should not make an arbitrary decision that the top or bottom 5% of any bell curve is a "syndrome". In my view, it is only a syndrome if the bell curve goes back up again briefly, like a little foothill at the side of the main hill, and if this happens over 2 or more related metrics.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pretty serious condition which can affect the subject and those around them. Simple old fashioned Narcissism has always been a part of society.

However, the advent of the mobile phone, the selfie, and the instant gratification available through social media, have made overt narcissism more widespread, and more socially acceptable in one part of society.

A few years ago, I looked up a work colleague on Facebook. We got on OK at work, we had helped each other out with difficult cases a couple of times, and I was thinking of making overtures of friendship (nothing more). She was 30-something, well qualified, with a decent job, but when I looked at her FB feed, it was selfie after selfie: over 100 virtually identical pictures of her pouting at the camera trying to approximate the Platonic ideal the Selfie Form. I did not click the button.

It is perfectly possible to use social media more constructively — we are doing so in this forum — but what a shallow attitude to life it can encourage.
 

JahaRa

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I'm not on social media a huge amount, however I use it to a small degree and I tend to read forums etc.

Over the past year, I've noticed a trend of an increasing number of people determining other people's actions and behaviour to be narcissistic. These people are often talking about family and friends and obviously I don't know these people personally so I can't really comment, but it's not uncommon to see people writing about how they've cut others out of their lives for 'narc' behaviour. When I've read some of the situations involved (one sided of course) some of it strikes me as unpleasant/rude, but not truly narcissistic...

I guess what surprises me is the number of people I've seen calling others 'narcs' as if it was a defining character trait. We all have a capacity for narcissism and I have certainly witnessed this, but I have rarely thought another person is a 'narc', or actually has narcissistic personality disorder. In fact, I'm more convinced of a couple of psychopaths I think I've come across (admittedly, probably an 'overdiagnosed' condition over the past 10 years).

I wonder what this says about our society. Is it sloppy/misunderstood language, or is it just a convenient catch all term for bad behaviour that's currently in vogue? On the other hand are we becoming less tolerant as a society and happy to cut off others, a personal form of cancel culture?

Just some observations really, interested to hear what others think.

P.S. To be clear, I understand sometimes you have to cut people out of your life for very good reasons (that don't need to be explained to the entire internet!) but the linguistics of this has intrigued me.
I have only met one person who I would consider a true narcissit, and it was obvious because of the way she treated everyone, not just a few. One example was that her 18 year old son was angry with her because she decided to move to another town while he was in his senior year of high school. He wanted to graduate at that high school. He made arrangements to live with a family friend so he could. She never spoke to him for 10 years "because he is mad at me." There was no conversation with her that did not involve talking about her, even when she tried, she could not maintain the conversation for 2 sentences without relating everything to her. She knew everything better than any one else, even though she only read a book about it. :hahazebs:

I know a lot of addicts that don't start out this way, but their addictions cause them to act narcissistic, they make up things to justify their bad behavior and family is the enemy, as well as anyone else who won't give them what they want. Some can get clean and be themselves, some can't. But that is what addiction does to the brain. And sometimes a person claiming they are shutting someone out of their lives because that person is a narcissist actually means they say "No." to something.

I think the words are misused and misunderstood. And sometimes someone likes the sound of a word without really knowing what it means.
 

JahaRa

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I understand where you're coming from, but I'm almost certain that 99% of the 'narc' references I've seen are short hand for narcissist.
I thought you were just being lazy and not spelling the word out completely. I have never heard "narc" mean "narcissist", it has always meant one who tells the cops about who sells the drugs or someone who sells their friends out (tells on them about their wrongdoings).
 

JahaRa

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In English slang a 'nark' is, or was (maybe not so common now) slang for an informer - as in 'copper's nark'. I'm not sure the derivation is known; the theory that it's from the Romany for nose is apparently unproven, although it would kind of make sense.
That is exactly what "narc" meant in the U.S. (spelling with a c probablly because it first involved narcotics)
 

JahaRa

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I thought I was the only one noticing this, and am surprised it is rampant over there in the UK as well, I thought you guys were more sensible.
Nowadays, almost every day we hear about this or that child being 'autistic' - so they must be treated 'specially'.
I'm not trying to belittle the condition, but how can all these children suddenly be 'autistic', just a few years ago we never heard that term at all.
Yes, you're right - the 'victim' status makes us special. Ridiculous.

People in the UK are for the most part just like in the U.S. They just have better healthcare. It is true, autistic used to be a very narrow diagnosis that included the inability to function in society. Research was done and it was found that some of the kids diagnosed with autism in the 60's and 70's actually had such sever sensory issues that they would just retreat into themselves. Nowdays, the diagnosis includes every twitch a child might have. If it is a sensory issue it is autism.

The medical system makes more money that way with their drugs. My grandson is "on the spectrum" but the things that got him that diagnosis are similar to the issues my brother and I had, though we got Chef's treatment and just kept our heads down. We had extremely sensitive hearing, empathic sensitivity and miinor dyslexia.

My brother was so sensitive he could not be in a room with an angry person, but he had to "toughen up" and learn how to manage it because it was not a "thing" then to be allowed to be that sensitive. All the men in our lives tormented my brother mecilessly insisting he was "acting like a girl", which used to make me angry as I knew that was not the problem and that he was not "acting like a girl".

My grandson's issues are caused by extremely sensitive hearing and a head wound that he got when he was 3 and was not taken to the doctor for. But he is in school, doing well and my daughter would not put him on medication for years, until life got so difficult for him that she relented. He has been on the lowest dose of aderol for 3 years and it does help but there were a lot of other mis diagnosis before she found a doctor that actually listened. He was diagnosed with ADHD and other things that he did not have. We have a very crappy medical system in this country and eveyrone has to learn a lot in order to be their own advocate just to get the proper treatment.
 

Victory

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I agree with nearly everything said on this thread.

Narcissists have always blighted my life, destroyed what could have been achievements.
If I ever write my life story it will involve some horrible dead ends, genuine hopes thwarted by others' narcissism.

It was only recently that I became aware that these people were genuinely narcissists with a personality disorder.
Before I just though they were cruel.

Perhaps with social media encouraging showing off (a narcissistic trait though not narcissistic personality disorder itself) there has been more written about this and the penny finally dropped?
 

catseye

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I wonder how many of us actually know people who genuinely seem to be narcissists, to the point where they may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder?

I've certainly known people who have expressed narcissistic behaviour, but there's probably only one/two that I might actually call narcissistic... and I wouldn't be confident enough to 'diagnose' them, or even call them a 'narc'. People are complex, and regarding those people I've referenced, I know there are mental health issues in play which further clouds the picture.

On the other hand, I find truly narcissistic behaviour really repulsive so perhaps I've subconsciously avoided these people over time!
As @Coal so succinctly hints above - many of these people behave like narcissists because they are allowed to get away with it. I've also heard people giving lists of things they 'won't do' and found myself wondering how these people will ever expect to hold down a job - it's like they just don't want to be told what to do. But when it comes down to 'do as you are told or you can't pay your mortgage/eat/raise your children' I suspect an awful lot of them lose these 'narcissistic tendencies' and knuckle down with the rest of us.

Being brought up to believe that you are the most important person in the Universe takes some knocking out of a person, but it generally happens eventually.
 

stu neville

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I certainly think we learn to function in time. There could be a lot of reasons why neurodivergence seems to be increasing.
This. It's always been there in varying degrees, but as with many conditions - physical and developmental - it was only the overt that were spotted. In more enlightened (discuss) times the metrics for detection have become more sophisticated, and more are noticed.

As for the "bit on the spectrum" thing - well, yes. The spectrum is the totality of the human condition, so everybody is indeed on it: some, however are on the autistic part, some on the ADD part, and (here's the kicker) it's a torus, not a ribbon, so some cross into both.
 
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Cochise

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This. Its always been there in varying degrees, but as with many conditions - physical and developmental - it was only the overt that were spotted. In more enlightened (discuss) times the metrics for detection have become more sophisticated, and more are noticed.

As for the "bit on the spectrum" thing - well, yes. The spectrum is the totality of the human condition, eo everybody is indeed on it: some, however are on the autistic part, some on the ADD part, and (here's the kicker) it's a torus, not a ribbon, so some cross into both.
Me, I'm just weird. And cool with it.
 

JahaRa

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As @Coal so succinctly hints above - many of these people behave like narcissists because they are allowed to get away with it. I've also heard people giving lists of things they 'won't do' and found myself wondering how these people will ever expect to hold down a job - it's like they just don't want to be told what to do. But when it comes down to 'do as you are told or you can't pay your mortgage/eat/raise your children' I suspect an awful lot of them lose these 'narcissistic tendencies' and knuckle down with the rest of us.

Being brought up to believe that you are the most important person in the Universe takes some knocking out of a person, but it generally happens eventually.
I don't know why, but this reminds me of sitcoms from the late 80's and all of the 90's where every show had to have a narcissitic character, as if that was funny, when everyone had "crisis" and the narcissist would step in and make everything about himself. (can't remember the specific show about a magazine staff that was the worst, character played by that small blonde guy who was supposed to be funny). The only show recently (in the last 15 years) that had a character like that, was Big Bang Theory, where the other characters would call the autistic narcissist out and he would change his behavior. That's what we need more of, examples of standing up or ignoring those characters.

This example of narcisisstic behavior being ok has been in our programming for a few decades.
 

Coal

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The only show recently (in the last 15 years) that had a character like that, was Big Bang Theory, where the other characters would call the autistic narcissist out and he would change his behavior. That's what we need more of, examples of standing up or ignoring those characters.
...however the depiction of the protagonists as all socially awkward did nothing to dispel that tired and frankly inaccurate stereotype. I've worked with hardware and software engineers most of my life and almost none of them were socially awkward. I've met many more socially awkward people in other walks of life.
 
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PeteByrdie

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This. It's always been there in varying degrees, but as with many conditions - physical and developmental - it was only the overt that were spotted. In more enlightened (discuss) times the metrics for detection have become more sophisticated, and more are noticed.

As for the "bit on the spectrum" thing - well, yes. The spectrum is the totality of the human condition, so everybody is indeed on it: some, however are on the autistic part, some on the ADD part, and (here's the kicker) it's a torus, not a ribbon, so some cross into both.
Are you suggesting one measures a circle beginning anywhere?

...however the depiction of the protagonists as all socially awkward did nothing to dispel that tired and frankly inaccurate stereotype. I've worked with hardware and software engineers most of my life and almost none of them were socially awkward. I've met many more socially awkward people in other walks of life.
The Big Bang Theory is often credited with popopularising geek culture. It always felt to me that geek culture was already becoming mainstream, and it was that serendipitous fact that made the show popular, even though it continued to portray 'geeks' as awkward menchildren, outliers in society. Certainly autistic people frequently are attracted to certain corners of popular culture, but I don't think those things are as alienating as they once were.
 

JahaRa

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...however the depiction of the protagonists as all socially awkward did nothing to dispel that tired and frankly inaccurate stereotype. I've worked with hardware and software engineers most of my life and almost none of them were socially awkward. I've met many more socially awkward people in other walks of life.
Actually, the show's original protaginist was Leonard, not Sheldon. They tried to keep it that way but everyone loved Sheldon and did not really care for Leonard. They did not make his character as likeable, writers mistook doormat for funny somehow. 3 of those characters were physists or astro physists with PHD's, not engineers. The engineer was the the "goofy" character. It definitely was not much better than most sit-coms but at least there was some real humor in it. One of very few sit coms I have ever enjoyed.

As for software engineers, I am one and have worked with a lot of them and they for the most part are socially awkward. If you weren't sitting in the cube next to them I could understand that you think they weren't.

My original point was that all of us have some kind of "neuro-divergence" if we are compared to people 4000 or more years ago.
 

JahaRa

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Are you suggesting one measures a circle beginning anywhere?


The Big Bang Theory is often credited with popopularising geek culture. It always felt to me that geek culture was already becoming mainstream, and it was that serendipitous fact that made the show popular, even though it continued to portray 'geeks' as awkward menchildren, outliers in society. Certainly autistic people frequently are attracted to certain corners of popular culture, but I don't think those things are as alienating as they once were.
Not geeks, nerds! Geeks are circus folk that bite the heads off of snakes and rats. I know you are probably too young to know where that word came from. Not to mention, geek has a connotation of being excessively socially inept and awkward to the point of not being understood by anyone.
 

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That is exactly what "narc" meant in the U.S. (spelling with a c probablly because it first involved narcotics)

Yes. Kind of interesting, because two identical sounding words have come to mean the same thing via different routes and from different sources.

US narc, appears to have journeyed from narcotics officer, to someone who dobs you in for taking drugs, to someone who dobs you in for anything.

In regard to the UK nark, the Grammarphobia blog claims...

When the word “nark” appeared in the mid-19th century, it referred to an “annoying, unpleasant, obstructive, or quarrelsome person,” according to the (OED) dictionary.

...and that the nark/snitch association goes back to at least 1857.
 

catseye

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I think we must beware, in situations like this, not to conflate 'narcississm' with 'autism'. While there are, undoubtedly, occasions where the two things cross over and there are those who have both conditions simultaneously, the words are not interchangeable. I can see how someone could confuse the two, but autistic people are not automatically 'narcissistic' and not all narcississtic people are on the spectrum.
 

catseye

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Sheldon is arrogant, not a narcissist. I agree what someone said earlier, people are saying narcissist instead of just calling someone an asshole because it sounds more authorative. Otherwise it is just your opinion.
I wonder whether it's his autism that makes him appear 'arrogant', simply because he is unable to comprehend anyone having an alternate view to his own. As I've said on here before, I have a friend with an autistic son and he shares many of these characteristics - he is simply absolutely unable to understand that what he is told by someone in authority isn't necessarily truth (so is very susceptible to being misled or to conspiracy theories) or that what he thinks is not what everybody else thinks and believes. It manifests as a form of arrogance, but is really due to a lack of theory of mind.

My daughter, also on the spectrum, has none of these characteristics. So is autism simply making someone who is natrually arrogant even MORE arrogant, or is autism being mistaken for arrogance because the autistic person cannot comprehend their needs not being supreme?
 

Cochise

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Not geeks, nerds! Geeks are circus folk that bite the heads off of snakes and rats. I know you are probably too young to know where that word came from. Not to mention, geek has a connotation of being excessively socially inept and awkward to the point of not being understood by anyone.
Geek was the more offensive word for a swot back in the 70's in the UK. Especially if you wore spectacles.

Nerd's a more recent US import AFAIK.
 

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I was just using autism as an example, it's one of the things that is so prevalent today, along with 'personality disorders', 'borderline personality', 'antisocial', the list goes on. I wonder if paying too much attention to all those things makes it worse. :)
Don't we grow out of many of these things as we grow and mature?

Point from an autistic: incidence or prevalence? It matters!

FWIW all the science suggests that prevalence isn't increasing. Nor is incidence. The definitions have changed, theory and methodology have improved. There is more awareness in the general population so people believe there is an actual increase.

Autism isn't a disease - which is where p-ence and i-ence cpome from, but it can be a useful concept.
 
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