Narcissism is the new black?

The rumors are true, Readers.  I read it in the New York Times Health section yesterday and today it’s all over the blogosphere.  The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-V), coming in 2013, will throw Narcissistic Personality Disorder off the psychiatric clinician’s bus.  Narcissism will officially be normal.

I picture a bunch of bald white guys sitting around the committee table discussing the matter.  “Narcissism as a personality disorder, I don’t think it really exists.  Read the definition. It could easily describe anyone, any one of us.”  I wonder how many of the members of the committee were ex-husbands themselves.

I propose adding a new diagnosis:  Asshat Ex Disorder.  No extra work for the committee, they can just use the old DSM-IV NPD criteria:

Proposed DSM-V Asshat Ex Disorder criteria/DSM IV Narcissistic Personality Disorder criteria

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1)  has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2)  is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3)  believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4)  requires excessive admiration

(5)  has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6)  is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7)  lacks empathy:  is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8)  is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9)  shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

I realize this decision is largely political and about insurance companies’ diagnostic codes.  Homosexuality and being a woman aka “hysteria” have also been included on the list of illnesses in past editions of the manual.  The winds of what is “sick” change with the culture.  So, I’m thinking we have to ask what it says about our society that extreme narcissism is now to be considered normal. That it’s now just normal, normal and acceptable, to be a jerk?  Narcissism is the new black?

Readers, it’s no wonder so many of you have written that your exes are rather like mine.  They’re just trending, going with the flow.  Narcissism is the way of the future, baby—the new norm, possibly soon to be as okay as gay.  What do you mean you want a divorce?

Blogger Dr. Jeff Kane, MD wrote:

If you wonder why NPD, of all behaviors, no longer looks abnormal, take a look at Facebook, where hundreds of your “friends” can’t wait to tell you they bought a jar of Skippy this morning. Take a look at television, where people ache so much for their fifteen minutes of attention that they wait in line to make fools or felons of themselves. Notice that we gaze into one another’s eyes less than at our cell phone screen’s display of messages, messages to US.

Formation of mold spores

We spend more time gazing at screens than into one another’s eyes.  We spend more time gazing at screens than at stars or sunsets.  It leaves our souls like an unwashed kitchen counter, a ripe surface for the growth of things that can and do produce sickness.  If we don’t call it sickness any more we just won’t be sick, right? This little paradigm shift should serve as a wake up call to each and every one of us—We must wash our counter tops and love earnestly.  (I never looked good in black anyway.)

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(Oh, and by the way, anyone who doesn’t believe that NPD is a clinical disorder has never met my ex.)

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