Legends in Our Own Minds

mosesThere is a tribe of males more than a little infatuated with themselves and their own ideas. We’re often described as narcissists. Upon discovering I fit into this group, I was appalled, and predictably I obsessed that I was too obsessed with my own behavior.

I now look at myself as a recovering narcissist. I observe how frequently I engage in being a legend in my own mind. Sometimes I’m amused. Sometimes I’m not.

My wife is tolerant but not particularly amused. Interestingly, I come across few women narcissists.

Narcissism often gets relegated to an example of an early developmental stage that gets carried into adulthood as a result of trauma or a peculiar environment that caused a freezing of psychological resources in the past. This effect is not unlike following a recipe while making a cake. If at an early stage something goes awry, you may end up with a less than delightful outcome. Accidentally add salt instead of sugar early in the process and the results will be unique but not particularly edible.

I’m playing with the idea that there is healthy narcissism characterized by the person feeling accompanied while they feel they are the center of the world and a kind of unhealthy narcissism where the person feels abandoned or alone and so creates a world that he can feel the center of. Creating things comes naturally to those that experience this condition.

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that many male narcissists are not exhibiting a personality feature born of past trauma. They are natural narcissists basking in the center of attention, comfortable with being on display. Creativity is often a hallmark of their personality. I’m playing with the idea that these self-oriented males are examples of the ancient genetic archetype described in detail when I discuss evolution, males that often come from families of left-handers. These are the male performers, often playing to gain the attention of a female, not very hierarchically inclined, but very focused on achieving attention. It is no mistake that artists are often narcissists. If the first stage of human development is characterized by an extraordinary surge of creativity with the self being produced from a single cell, then the next stage is awareness of the self just created. For humans, creativity and self awareness go hand in hand.

There are several implications

Autism may be a form of extreme narcissism or an early developmental stage so stretched out as to become one’s whole life. Innovative autism theorist Simon Baron-Cohen (cousin to Sasha) has suggested that autism is a too-male brain resulting from too high testosterone levels in the mother’s womb. I would suggest that autism is an example of an exaggeration of the left spectrum or older genotype, the artist/dancer prototype characteristic of matrifocal social structures. A mother with high testosterone levels suggests the female of this older genotype. High testosterone mothers create lower testosterone males and higher testosterone females.  Autism is but the extreme of a narcissistic, creative, low testosterone male of this ancient, pre-patriarchal, random-handed society. Autism does not represent an extreme male brain but an unusually maturational delayed, neotenous brain encouraged by a mother with high testosterone levels.

Estrogen is also potentially in play, but I’ll discuss that another time.

Another implication of embracing rather than rejecting the narcissists among us is the repercussion of positively recognizing the evident flood of young male narcissists coursing into society. Their appearance has been accompanied by an astonishing increase in creativity as they interact with the web. I’m suspecting that it is not a bad thing. For example, it is not evidence of a society with regressive tendencies. I’m thinking that it is evidence of societal neoteny with features of earlier stages of ontogeny prolonging into the adult of the species. The forces compelling the neotenization of society are manifesting in increased male narcissism, increased creativity, increased autism and an increase in the number of women comfortable with wielding authority.

In the way that the label “narcissism” has been assigned to the self-enthralled (mostly males, in my experience) there is the label borderline personality disorder that has been assigned to another seeming deviation from a norm. I’m hypothesizing that if narcissistic personality disorders are mostly male, then borderline personality disorders are mostly female. Whereas there is a healthy narcissism, there is also a healthy borderline. That would be the left spectrum, old genotype woman used to being in command, comfortable with authority at the center of a matrifocal world. These details would suggest that narcissists often mate with borderlines and that left-handers would often be in their families. There is also a suggestion that conditions characterized by maturational delay, such as autism, would be closely associated with these two complementing personality “disorders”.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking. I don’t have to be a narcissist to even consider that I might be right. But it helps.

Proceed to author’s FREE book download on this subject (The book is called Evolution, Autism and Social Change). 10 minute introductory video here.

related:  Action Words

on 10/19/09 in Evolution, featured | 6 Comments | Read More

Comments (6)


  1. Rae says:

    Interesting ideas. Not sure what is meant by “neoteny ” I think it would be interesting to study narcissism and creativity.

    I’m trying to better understand a person in my family who I have not been comfortable around. She talks mostly about herself, and is very creative, successful at her job, and likes to be in control, and is manipulative. She is usually manipulating to achieve positive goals, however. She is obviously intelligent (has her PhD), but not flexible or interested in ideas of others. There is a lot to like, but her half-truths lead to my distrust, and I just can’t feel much emotional connection to the woman.

    From what I read about a narcissim disorder, at the base it comes from deep-seated insecurity and an inability to trust other people, sometimes resulting in depression. She does not seem able to accept any overtures of emotional support, though she does appreciate services and “gifts” from others, and also likes to give gifts. Now in her 40’s she is developing a range of chronic illnesses that I suspect are part of her way to control those around her.

    After 7 years of trying to be a friend and be helpful, mostly by providing services, I’m giving up on genuine friendly feelings, and I hate that. Have never discussed any of this with her directly; am not sure she would be able to do much about it. And I am not qualified to “diagnose” anything.

  2. Philip says:

    In a similar way to Rae, I have been trying to understand a young woman that I befriended. Since Narcissus was male I think that Narcissistic Personality Disorder should be reserved for males. Though females develop in different ways in our society, nevertheless, narcisistic tendencies are exhibited by women who match the criteria of Borderline Personality disorder.

    The gifts and services you mention are often called ‘narcissistic supplies’ by other comentators. In my experience, giving is not spontaneous but rather formulaic. The gifts that I have received have invariably been recycled. Givers would be hurt to discover how little their gifts are appreciated or treasured. Ornaments, such as flower bowls, vases etc. don’t remain long on display. ‘It got broken’ may well be the response to a query and naturally difficult to challenge. What is really valued in the gift is evidence ‘worship.’

    Concerning Neoteny, it may be interesting to add that my friend is a Mexican woman and that Mexico is a melting pot of several cultures, for example the Amer-indian, Celto-ibero, Visigoth and Moslem. Many biologists believe that Neoteny has proceeded further in the Asian races, and by logical extension, to the Amer-indians. My friend’s mother has Amer-indian features and is very domineering if not dominant. Her father appears hispanic and appears to take sumissive role calling his wife ‘mami.’ My friend appears hispanic, but her brother, who looks Amer-indian, appears to have psychological problems and has not left the family home at the age of 38.

    Finally, it may be relevant that my friend has gynecological problems related to high testosterone levels, for example polycystic ovaries. She suffers greatly from her inability to form loving relationships with men. She is highly intelligent but haughty and agressive in her relationships. Perhaps this reflects testosterone levels or perhaps she carries an ‘introject’ of the maternal personality. As with many borderlines her promiscuous life is not unlike many men. This she rationalizes as sex being the neccessary price of love, the price of narcissistic supplies from men. Sadly, my friend is not really lovable, she uses a ‘false self’ to disguise a really angry and hostile personality.

  3. Tetsuya Sellers says:

    Xamuel Vaknin is a self-admitted narcissist. His website is here.
    You might want to read The World of The Narcissist or, more readable and entertaining, the Mind of a nNarcissist. Vaknin says that narcissists are actually mysogynists (or misandranous, depending on the gender.) I do know someone I could classify as a narcissist, though not with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and he tends to illude to women in only a sexual way, “I wish I could have a girl I could fuck every night,” “Can we move to the shade? I saw this girl and she looks to hot…” “This girl I know, she’s not really hot. Can I still be her friend?” II also looked at a forum where people were describing their experiences with narcissists. One person said that narcissists prefer the “tougher” women to the “whiny” women (higher testosterone women to neatinous, higher estrogen women?) because they view it as a challenge. I think narcissists are lower testosterone males males gone wrong, the same way that sadists are higher testosterone people gone wrong.

  4. Tetsuya Sellers says:

    Hey, Sory to keep on talking, but I just the piece on magical thinking and how autistics aren’t so (adolescant?) Well, narcissists are very adolescant and exhibit magiclal thinking. See, “The Magic of My Thinking: Narcissism and Magical Thinking.” by Vaknin. The narcissist friend I know once had grandios vissions of “staring a busnis, and making money, and founding a school (in his native Shri Lanka) and becoming president, and having all kinds of dignitaries come visit me…”

  5. Ralph says:

    People w aspergers syndrome do exhibit magical thinking

  6. Alicia says:

    I’m trying to get in touch with Tetsuya Sellers!

Leave a Reply