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     Volume 9 Issue 39| October 08, 2010 |

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The Incorrigible Narcissist


When people say 'I love you more than anything else in the world' please note the word anything. Notice how they deliberately avoid the word anyone because 99 percent of the human population actually love themselves the most. Anyone who says otherwise are just talking rubbish or are so self-delusional that they actually believe in the rubbish. Unless of course, they are in the ranks of Mother Teresa with credentials suitable for the Department of Saintliness and most likely, Heaven.

We love ourselves because we know ourselves (at least we think we do) better than anyone else, we tolerate ourselves despite knowing every ugly truth about ourselves including the times we have fantasized about murdering the irritating acquaintance who insists on dropping by at your office on the busiest day of the week when you are way behind your deadline and painfully trying to write something coherent.

People who love themselves to the point of insanity are known as narcissists after the Greek mythological character Narcissus described as 'a pathologically self-absorbed young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool'. These are the people who spend hours dolling themselves up at parlours or dressing rooms and cannot get enough of compliments on their appearance from their admirers and sycophants. They also spend quite a bit of their time in front of the mirror, looking at themselves from different angles, practising that perfect camera look, deliberating over things like whether to smile showing some pearly-white teeth or smile enigmatically with cheeks sucked in to highlight the lovely cheekbones, a slightly crooked smile to exude that rakish, bad boy look, back brush or floppy hair-and so on. To a certain extent we all do this but with the true blue narcissist there is no lack of confidence regarding the fact that no matter what angle their profile is in, they are perfect. And in many cases they are close to perfect, at least in the looks department.

It's in the grey matter area that there is a serious deficiency, although the individual is happily oblivious of it. The deficiency is an acute lack of humility and total ignorance of reality, leading these people to believe that they know everything and that the world will collapse without their presence, infinite wisdom and beauty. Almost every sentence they utter will start with 'I'. It will be 'I think' or 'I believe' or 'So and so said I am…' If you give them T-shirts saying 'I, Me and Myself' they will just smile beautifully, they just won't get it.

The media is the Eldorado for narcissists as it is the best place to express one's self love and self-importance and then disseminate it to the rest of the lowly world. The camera of course is the ultimate vehicle through which narcissists can channel all their pent up love for themselves. Thus the talk shows where the host is the main talker. But it is not just a fixation on one's looks that characterises a narcissist. There are plenty of them who will use the printed word or words of wisdom in the case of visual media to show off their apparent superiority. Usually these are people who pretend to write a eulogy of a dear (and famous) friend and end up writing three sentences about the deceased. The rest is about how the deceased praised him for his eloquent speech while he was visiting a Nobel laureate in Milan and attending a seminar for potential writers. At the end of what has turned out to be a self-eulogy, the writer's brief bio will mention all his achievements including the fact that he once met President Obama. Thankfully there is a thing called editing for such madness.

Name-dropping is therefore a prerequisite to being a narcissist. They will say things like “I am the PM's thrice removed cousin-in law, we are very close” or “ It's really hard to keep up with my Facebook friends, you know Shahed Kapoor asked me if I was single.” So is being in touch with EIPs (Extremely Important Persons) who will come to your son's akika or dance bhangra at his wedding.

The scary thing about narcissism is that it can be contagious. Sometimes you don't even know that you have fallen deeply in love with yourself. If you find yourself looking into the back of a spoon to admire the alignment of your hair parting know that you have been infected.


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