As a Brit I’m naturally self-deprecating. I say “sorry” when something that is not my fault. I say “I must not have explained that properly” when I’m talking to someone who is stupid to understand. I smile politely when someone breaks the rules when I’m driving *.
I don’t tend to like people that are narcissists. Most of the leaders of the companies I’ve worked with have that degree of self-assurance and self-importance that leaves me cold. I’m told “It’s OK, they are geniuses”. Some of the senior management adopt this attitude as well, despite proving that the genius gene has never been observed in any of their decisions.
Yesterday I read an article about Psychologist Dr Kostas Papageorgiou, from Queen’s University Belfast. It says narcissists have grandiose delusions about their own importance, are horrible people and an absence of shame. However it goes on to say, surprisingly perhaps, they are also likely to be happier than most people. They are less like to suffer from depression
The biggest narcissist on this planet is of course Donald Trump. He takes credit for things that other people have achieved. He’s made up stories that make him seem to be a good person. He’s claimed he’s made lots of money. Most of these things are unlikely to be true, but he keeps repeating his fake news and some people believe it. Especially himself. But is he happy? Who will ever know?
So why do some people behave this way? What do they hope achieve? Papageorgiou suggests this may be an evolutionary trait developed to protect us against attack. But surely people attack narcissists more? Isn’t that asking for trouble?
I read Erving Goffman’s book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” back in the 1980’s when I was studying for my Open University degree in Social Science. I was fascinated by the way we all “perform” differently depending on the “situation”. Following that logic, narcissism is just a way of react to the situation. Believing you are the best is a strategy in order to become the best.
Certainly it would be nice to have a life where there’s more happiness, where I have more self-belief but I’m not sure if I want to become a narcissist. There are more people I know who have achieved greatness without becoming one.
Piers Morgan is perhaps the UK’s most well known narcissist. A pseudo-journalist, implicated in phone-hacking, who is currently on vacation from his stint on ITV’s Good Morning. Recently there have been petitions set up to have him fired, and counter-petitions to keep him working. He’s provocative, combative, rude and consistently talks over interviewees who he disagrees with. So why do people like him? Because he’s “entertaining”? Because he’s not “boring like the BBC”? Since when did “entertaining” become more important than the truth?
What irks me most about Trump and Morgan is that they both believe they have a right to say what they want because they are famous. Because they are famous they must have a more valid opinion than anyone else. Because they are famous they must be right.
We are living now in a post-truth world. The world is just a myriad of opinions. Just like the one you’ve just been reading.
So what is your opinion? Are you a narcissist? Are you happy?
Cup of tea anyone? Well I did say I was British**.
* Actually that is a barefaced lie. I shout and use hand-gestures. I’m not a saint.
** Sorry I don’t really like tea, but that would ruin the ending wouldn’t it.