Narcissism Inc.

by Bill Brenner on January 10, 2011

I’ve always wondered if I was a narcissist. I’ve been wondering even more since last week, when someone asked me when I reached a point in my recovery where I stopped being self-absorbed. I had to be honest and tell her I still get self absorbed. All the time.

Mood music:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOivymp6rto&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999]

People with obsessive-compulsive tendencies are basket cases about being in control. Maybe it’s simply control of one’s sanity. Usually, it’s control of situations and people you have no business trying to control.

I went looking for a definition and found this on Wikipedia:

Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. The name “narcissism” was coined by Freud after Narcissus who in Greek myth was a pathologically self-absorbed young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool.

So, let’s see…

I’ve never fallen in love with my reflection. Usually, when I look in a mirror, it’s to make sure I don’t look too fat. I don’t get people who insist on having their bedroom or bathroom fitted with wall-to-wall mirror. I’ve also gone through long periods of hating myself.

But I am guilty of thinking I’m better than the guy sitting next to me. I probably think I’m a better writer than I really am. There are days when I think a little too highly of myself.

Here’s a fact about addicts: We are among the most selfish people on the planet. Or, as Nikki Sixx says in the final track on Sixx A.M.’s soundtrack for The Heroin Diaries: “You know addicts. It’s all about us, right?” That selfishness usually leads us to do stupid things that make us feel shame. In the midst of that shame, we lie.

That sort of behavior can overwhelm us, no matter how much we want to be better people. Putting ourselves before others is the hardest drug of all to resist. 

In OA, those of us in recovery from our compulsive eating disorders rely on a set of tools that go hand in hand with the 12 Steps. There’s the plan of eating, writing, sponsorship, the telephone and literature. There’s anonymity. And there’s service to others.

The plan of eating is what’s most necessary for me, but I think my favorite tool is service.

When I do service, the people I may be trying to help are helping me as well. If it’s through OA, everyone is supporting each other. It’s the same at church, be it through school activities or actively participating in Mass. That’s why I do lectoring. Actively participating in Mass helps me to pay attention to what’s going on instead of sitting there locked inside my head.

Service forces me out of my usual role of being a selfish little bastard.

It may not be a cure for narcissism, if I even fit that description. But it makes it manageable.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: