One way to peg a narcissist you probably never heard of.


It may sound ridiculous but I think this is a good way to judge a person’s character without their suspecting anything.

Chatter about movies, books, and other forms of entertainment is a standard ice breaker (and is part of the dreaded “small talk” we introverts hate so much), usually used to make polite conversation with someone you don’t know that well (of course, these things can be discussed more in depth too with closer friends and loved ones).    Movies, books, TV, and public figures are safe conversation starters.   You can talk to people about these things without seeming to cross anyone’s boundaries or getting too personal.

But such seemingly innocuous conversations can also help you peg whether or not a person is a narcissist or sociopath–without them suspecting a thing.  When you meet a new person, ask them the way you would ask anyone about movies they’ve seen and books they’ve read, and then ask them whose side they were on, or which characters they most identified with.   Of course, you must be familiar with the movie or the book, including its main characters.   Television personalities and other public figures will also do.

Narcissists can feel empathy for other narcissistic characters–characters that are like themselves.   I’ve noticed they will often feel empathy for the villain, rather than the hero/heroine.   A narcissist woman, for example, will feel simpatico with a villain like Beth Jarrett from Ordinary People, and think her behavior toward her son wasn’t that bad–she may even think he deserved it and find Jarrett’s justifications for abusing him valid.    My mother found nothing wrong with her behavior and was puzzled as to why I found it so triggering and upsetting.  (Of course I didn’t tell her why).

My mother also couldn’t understand why the the “Queen of Mean” hotelier Leona Helmsley was given such a hard time in the press over her arrogant statement, “We don’t pay taxes, only the little people pay taxes.”   She also identified with Sherman McCoy, the narcissistic, selfish, and greedy investment banker in the novel Bonfire of the Vanities, who wound up losing everything due to a chain of events stemming from a hit and run accident which McCoy was involved in.  I remember her lamenting almost tearfully about how “his beautiful life was ruined” by the events that played out in the novel.    She also couldn’t stand good, sweet Melanie, from Gone With the Wind.   I suppose Melanie could come across as a tad simpering and holier-than-thou, but my mother hated her.   The heroine of that same movie, Scarlett O’Hara, is more than a little narcissistic (or possibly Histrionic?)–charming, flirtatious, manipulative, entitled, and possessing very little empathy.  She didn’t even seem that upset when her own daughter, Bonnie, died after falling off a horse.    I never understood why Scarlett has been such a huge role model for generations of women.   She really didn’t have too many redeeming qualities when you think about it.

A  man (or woman) with NPD or psychopathy might identify or sympathize with any of Ayn Rand’s psychopathic heroes–Howard Roark from The Fountainhead or John Galt from Atlas Shrugged come to mind.   Of course, these are popular books, especially among conservatives–but holding these two highly narcissistic men up as worthy of worship might be a red flag.   Be wary of such a person.

My ex, a sociopath who has been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder (but is really a malignant narcissist) always liked villainous characters, especially if they broke the law.  He often rooted for the bad guy (or sometimes, girl) and the more ruthless or cruel they were, the more they seemed to enthrall him.   He likes Charles Manson.   He watched South Park because he thought the sociopathic Eric Cartman was so cool.  He also rooted for the alien in Aliens.   In addition to that, he likes satanic and demonic imagery, which always disturbed me, even when I was agnostic.     We all have a touch of schadenfreude and many normal people (including yours truly) have a fascination with serial killers and other outlaws–according to Jung, that’s because we all have a shadow self that’s drawn to dark things.  But there’s a difference between fascination or morbid curiosity and actually liking these things or identifying with or sympathizing with villains, malignant narcissists, and antisocial people.

So if you’re on a date with a new person, have them take you to a movie (or take them to a movie) and see who they seem to identify with or sympathize with the most (or who they seem to dislike the most).   It could tell you a lot about that person’s character.


20 thoughts on “One way to peg a narcissist you probably never heard of.

  1. Yeah, I have a huge fascination with the old Nazis (not the neo ones), but that doesn’t mean I *like* them or root for them. My brother, on the other hand, when we were kids, always seemed to root for the villains. He also used to draw a comic about a particularly awful superhero-style villain. I sometimes wonder where my brother fits on the narcissist scale. 😛

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    • I have a fascination for the old Nazi’s and the Holocaust too. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it was horrible beyond belief, which it was. But there are those who think of the Nazi’s as heroes.
      I used to have a boyfriend (also N–all of them were) who liked to draw pictures of men stabbing women to death. I found these drawings and promptly broke up with him. I was super creeped out by that.

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  2. Interesting.

    I had a friend in high school, to whom I played second fiddle, and he was enthralled by Howard Roark.

    When this friend’s parents got divorced and he went to see a psychologist, the same one I was seeing for depression, the psychologist’s diagnosis was “Narcissism”.

    I don’t know if it was a full blown personality disorder, but that was the main issue it seemed. Didn’t know what it meant at the time.

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  3. That’s a good idea. I don’t I had ever seen my mother, who’s an avid movie watcher, seem moved by any movie, nor by anyone’s plight even in real life.

    As a side thought, I always thought schadenfreude is not necessarily a bad thing if it’s in the context of wishing to see justice. You know, like enjoying seeing someone finally experiencing a dose of their own medicine, getting their comeuppance, etc.

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  4. Great just great. Good tip for all the people that follow you that are on the dating search 😃😃 because what you say is so to the point and true.
    Your mom and ex were really malignant I believe 😖😖😖 but you are over that hill now.
    One of my exes used to like killing germans in those electronic games, as he remembered ww2 where part of his family died in Italy on the hands of Germans. Another liked bloody scenes… So spot on LO.

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  5. My oldest (and now ex-) best friend of more than thirty years is someone I loved dearly. Still do, really, she is devastatingly charismatic. But throughout the course of our long friendship, there were occasional blips in her character that gave me pause. When we were about thirteen, fourteen years old, she discovered the movie “The Blue Max” and went nuts for the main, George Peppard character. It seemed a disproportionate response for a teenage, British girl to bring to a WWI flying ace. Years later – and some time after I realised what she really is and terminated our relationship – I remembered and deliberately sought out this film to see what it was attracted her. Bingo! The George Peppard character in that film (can’t remember his name) is a clear narcissist, only concerned with winning the prestigious Blue Max medal, by fair means or foul, and regardless of how many other lived he tramples on to do so.

    I think you’re on the money with this post. x

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    • Ayn Rand was a psychopath AND an atheist (not that I’m dissing atheists or anything –I’ve met many very nice ones). One of her role models was a SERIAL KILLER! (It’s true). It’s incredible how many “Christians” (especially of the right wing variety) can quote the Bible and Ayn Rand in the same sentence and be believed. I’m sorry but Rand’s philosophy of selfishness (she said “altruism is the greatest evil”) is diametrically opposed to Christ’s teachings. I can’t believe how many people are dumb or naive enough to fall for it. She is held up today in America as some sort of god and hardly anyone questions it. You can’t mix Ayn Rand and Jesus, but many try.

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      • I agree with everything you said here, including about the atheists. I was staunchly agnostic, almost atheist, for much of my life. Really, the only thing that stopped me from declaring myself an atheist outright, was the fact that I could not prove, scientifically, that there is no God, or that there never was a God.

        But I am a Christian believer now, have been since the age of 50, for many reasons, all of which boil down to this: the preponderance of the evidence compels me to believe.

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