It's Time for an Ego Check
Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation
"Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized especially by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, persistent need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, excessive pride in achievements, and snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes" — Merriam-Webster Dictionary
If you believe Chris Crocker's Wikipedia page, he's an Internet celebrity. Twenty-one-year-old Crocker has nearly 57,000 followers on Twitter and 10,000 fans on Facebook, and his infamous YouTube video, titled "Leave Britney Alone," has received more than 26 million views. He's found fame online, and that's exactly what many people—young and old—seem to be seeking. But, Dr. Drew Pinsky says beware—a desire for this kind of fame could be a sign of a narcissistic personality.
Dr. Drew, author of The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America, says sociologists noted narcissistic trends in American culture in the 1970s, and this trend has now taken over the nation. It's not only sports stars and celebrities who are seeking the limelight through their tweets, pictures and status updates, it's everyday people too who are sharing every minute detail of their lives for a sense of instant gratification. "We all now have this magic portal that sits on our desk that calls us to throw our own hat in the ring, to gratify our own narcissistic tendencies, and why not?" Dr. Drew asks. "Why shouldn't I be on a reality show and why shouldn't I scream 'Leave Britney alone!' and get the gratification that seems accessible to everybody through this magic window on my desk?"
For many, these egotistical tendencies start at a young age. "Your ultimate job [as a parent] is to help your child deal with reality, and reality ain't such a pleasant place," Dr. Drew says. The reason you shouldn't indulge in narcissistic behavior: Narcissists are pretty unpleasant to be around. "They will go to any lengths to [build themselves up], and that's because they don't really appreciate other people's feelings," Dr. Drew says. "Other people are really objects for their utility to make them feel better. Feelings don't really matter to them, and they don't have a robust connection between their conscious and feeling states."