Can You Spot The Narcissist? Hint: It's Not Who You Think
I haven't been writing here for a while because of general busy-ness, anxiety over busy-ness, Netflix interfering with my busy-ness, and the fact that so much narcissism has surfaced in recent days and weeks that I barely even know where to start. Last night, as I was going up and down in the elevator doing laundry in our decrepit laundry room, I noticed three women hanging out in the lobby. They had been there, standing around a folding table, for hours. They were wearing purple t-shirts and official-looking tags hanging from shiny purple lanyards around their necks.
"Are you boosted?" said the kindest-seeming of the three. It is hard to tell kindness under a mask, but I had seen her cooing at a baby earlier.
"I'm not interested in that," I said dismissively, the best I could do while dragging enormous bags of laundry and hoping I could find a few unbroken machines.
"It's not mandatory anymore!" she insisted happily, as if this fact would be enough to make me throw down my burdens and joyfully roll up my sleeve now that I was no longer entirely compelled to do so.
I could tell she genuinely wanted to help, so rather than blasting her with opinions that would obviously be as alien to her as, well, aliens, I muttered something about the death of democracy and went to the laundry room. All evening, I watched the ladies confront, cajole and corral people in my building, who made what I felt was a fatal mistake: engaging these people at all. One resident said she was double jabbed and had had COVID too, so she felt she already had enough protection; the trio of 'health care workers' (really no way of knowing their employer short of getting far too close to those name tags, but they were not doctors, since we have removed vaccinations from their arena altogether) argued that if two shots were good, three were even better.
My brief run-in with attempted coercion was the catalyst for me to finally sit down and write a post. I had witnessed such a creepy predation on my neighbours - almost exclusively people from marginalized groups who have been bombarded by military-grade propaganda for over two years, who are still subjected to subway announcements every 30 seconds insisting they mask up, sanitize and stay two metres away from one another, and who still can't access many Canadian jobs and services unless they are vaccinated - that one of the hallmarks of narcissism leaped to mind.
It's not always easy to spot narcissistic behaviour, especially when it's carried out by unwitting instruments (yes, I'm calling those vaccine influencers flying monkeys). Most people think narcissism can be summed up by what Madonna is doing on TikTok lately: bizarre self love and self obsession, usually for superficial and/or delusional reasons.
But what do you think when you look at this lady below? Does she scream 'narcissist'? No...unless she's the one doing the self-righteous screaming, like she did while pulling her music off the Spotify platform, along with a host of other Boomers, to protest Joe Rogan's crime of having discussions, on his own podcast, with people they disagree with. Ah, Joni Mitchell, I've looked at like from both sides now, and I can spot narcissism a mile away.
You might never guess that the narcissistic music artist is not the self-image-obsessed Madonna, but the lady who has grown old gracefully. Am I saying that makes Madonna an altruist, or Joni a narcissist? No, but in this comparison, the person displaying narcissistic behaviour is Joni, because there is one simple test for narcissism that not many people talk about:
They want YOU to do things, and when YOU don't, they try to hurt YOU. It's not so much what they do, it's what they demand of others.
More COVID narcissism
To continue in the COVID vein, because in Toronto it simply cannot be escaped no matter how much the rest of the world has moved on, we come to another cute little old person and his nemesis. Who is the narcissist, Anthony Fauci or Rand Paul?
If you don't follow American politics, Rand Paul isn't just on the right in this photo, he is on the political right as the Senator in Kentucky. He's also a doctor. He challenged Dr. Fauci, the un-elected head of the National Institute of Health, on his personal and professional role in funding the research in the Wuhan lab that most likely lead to an accidental outbreak of the corona virus, and what looks very much like the subsequent coverup. Fauci, the cute little old man on the left, has been questioned a lot throughout his long and powerful career. He's the guy who brought us such follow-the-science gems as "close household contact with AIDS-infected patients could cause AIDS infections in children". He really has a thing with close contact, eh? In Fauci's world, none of us would have any of it at all. Unfortunately this demented little man's iron grip on US public health policy, rife with waffling, lies and misinformation, influenced the world's most powerful leaders to lock down, destroy economies and cause untold future harms of every variety on a global scale.
Rand Paul comes across as rudely attacking an experienced bureaucrat who indignantly denies all wrongdoing. Maybe Rand is being rude. But Rand isn't out there locking you in your home, forcing you to put needles in your arms, and trying to terrify you if you dare defy his bizarre edicts. Fauci, on the other hand, is classic narc: making it up as he goes along, gaslighting your memory, ignoring and obscuring the truth, mocking you as ignorant and evil for asking questions, and pretending to be the ultimate authority on your welfare while he's at it.
Celebrity narcissism just got worse
A couple weeks back at the Oscars, an event I used to enjoy watching back when I was allowed to go to movie theatres and see the movies, a scandal occurred in which Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage for making a mild joke about his wife's appearance. He has since apologized and been rather ruthlessly punished by the Academy, but at the time, he was congratulated and applauded by the crowd, who seemed to laugh off the incident.
While Twitter immediately weighed in on the merits of Will Smith's actions, in my opinion, this sad story had two victims and one perpetrator. It's obvious that people did behave badly here, but who is the real narcissist in this situation? Chris Rock, who thought it was perfectly fine to mock the medical condition behind Jada's baldness, which she had made public? Or Smith, who thought he could put the smackdown on a working comedian with impunity? Nope.
And the narcissist is...
Jada Pinkett-Smith, in whose honour the slap occurred, is the woman who ran around on her husband with young men despite his being hurt personally and professionally by it, then publicly dragged him through the mud about it all, then did nothing to stop him from trashing one of the most notable moments in his career - an Oscar win - by letting him slowly walk to the stage and slap out the host in her defense. She is an attention-hungry professional victim, and her narcissism is apparent in the way she is able to manipulate others' behaviour. She really doesn't care about the impact of doing what she wants, when she wants, in any situation.
Whether we're talking about the Mayor of New York, who is still masking toddlers but runs around at super-spreader events without apology; the get-rich-quick guru who tells you to eliminate negativity from your life to attract everything you desire, while taking your money; or the teacher who thinks what your kids learn is none of your business, narcissistic behaviour is everywhere, and it's on the rise. Narcissists can be recognized not just by their own actions, but by how those actions force other people to compromise, comply and conform, even at great personal cost to themselves.
So, how do you spot a narcissist? Look at those around him or her and see whether they are being forced to do things in the narcissist's best interest rather than their own. When you see people behaving in a certain way just to avoid punishment, the narcissist is not far behind.