Are reality show participants all a bunch of narcissists?

narcrealityshows

I recently saw a study that indicated that among all types of entertainers, reality show stars have the highest levels of narcissism (comedians were second, which surprised me).

narcissistchart
Click on chart to enlarge.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, contributor of this study and a celebrity psychologist who has even hosted his own reality shows (“Celebrity Rehab” among others) had this to say about reality show contestants. It’s easy to see why the study is probably correct. Many if not most reality shows feature people who have no real talent or special ability, other than airing their dirty laundry and personal issues on national television, or just acting like jerks and getting rich and famous for it.

VH1, once a respectable music video alternative to MTV, has become Reality Show Central, and their reality shows tend to be the dumbest of them all, with the most most offensive and unpleasant “stars” you could ever imagine. The premises of these shows are also questionable, even if at times humorous. I remember a show called “Tool Academy,” where young men (and sometimes women) who acted like total tools were sent to be on the show by their wives and girlfriends. The show was run in the typical “Ten Little Indians” format of most game-type reality shows, with one person (who displayed the most “toolish” behavior) eliminated each week, until the winner–the guy whose behavior had improved the most–was announced as the winner.

Another VH1 show, “Flavor of Love,” featured the narcissistic rapper, Flavor Flav, an aging, unattractive, yet inexplicably desireable has-been as the “prize.” Some prize. Flavor Flav was insufferable, annoying, vain and conceited but every week a group of girls would engage in ugly catfights over his attentions, with one girl eliminated each week (for reasons that were completely arbitrary and based on Flav’s personal opinion formed on “alone time” with that girl.)

One of the contestants from “Flavor of Love” became a reality star in her own right–a highly (and probably malignantly) narcissistic girl named Tiffany “New York” Pollard. “New York” possessed every tool in the narcissist’s bag of tricks–gaslighting, triangulating, tantrum throwing, blame shifting, abusive behavior, lack of empathy, and whiny, wheedling self-centeredness–and she got most of Flav’s attention (although she did not win). She was also hilarious, and that was probably some of her appeal. Not surprisingly, New York got her own reality show, predictably called “I Love New York,” in which men would compete for HER as the prize.

Production Stills from the Flavor of Love spinoff,"I Love New York"
Tiffany “New York” Pollard

A similar show in the same vein (and made by the same producers) was a short lived reality show called “Megan Wants a Millionaire” in which a girl named Megan, a materialistic and shallow nobody, got to choose her dream rich guy, who would become the winner after everyone else was eliminated. The show made news when one of its contestants–an arrogant, sleazy and malignantly narcissistic piece of human scum named Ryan Jenkins (who was one of Megan’s favorites and probably would have won) brutally murdered and then dismembered his girlfriend, Jasmine Fiore, in a hotel in Canada, and then stuffed her body into a suitcase. Immediately following the murder, the show was cancelled, so there never was a winner. Megan may have been wound up with Jenkins killing HER if he didn’t win. I remember getting uncomfortable feelings watching Jenkins–and wondered what Megan saw in him. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but Jenkins gave me a bad case of the heebie jeebies.

There are many shows of this ilk, and they’re everywhere. MTV started the reality show trend back in the 1990s with “The Real World,” which showed a group of “normal” (but hand picked through an audition process) twentysomethings living together in a house. The most narcissistic housemate would almost always become the most famous, even if they had a lot of haters. Now MTV’s offerings are more likely to be game-show based or documentary-like, such as the hit “Teen Mom.” While the show has its merits (showing how these young girls cope with raising a child without a husband or decent job), it also rewards questionable behavior, such as getting pregnant before one is ready to handle the responsibilities of a child. I have actually heard of girls who deliberately get pregnant just to be able to audition to be on the show. The girls on “Teen Mom” become instant stars, and because the girls are getting paid handsomely to be on the show, the actual “reality” of this reality show (like most others) is questionable. Most real teen moms struggle with poverty or near-poverty, but these girls only pretend to be impoverished for the sake of the show.

There are other non-contest shows like TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” featuring the supersized Duggars; the defunct and controversial “Jon and Kate Plus 8”; and of course, the enormously popular “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which has made megastars of its namesakes. Jon and Kate, now divorced, obviously both have NPD, especially Kate, who used her many children as a ticket to stardom. Kate has parlayed the success of “Jon and Kate” into a career as a reality star and has also appeared on the show “Dancing With the Stars,” among other shows. I feel sorry for her kids, with such a fame-whoring, self centered, attention seeking excuse for a mother.

I haven’t watched The Kardashians, so I don’t know if the sisters are narcissists, but I fail to see how a show about a family with daughters whose only claim to fame is the fact their father (Bruce Jenner) used to be a famous track and field athlete and is now a motivational speaker, ever got so popular. Yet people want to be just like Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, and their very average countenances regularly grace almost every entertainment and women’s magazine.

keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-50e980ae8abea (1)

Then there is Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club,” which is exactly what its name promises. Although the premise of the show (like “Tool Academy”) is the improvement of the girls’ selfish, combative, narcissistic behaviors, with the winner showing the most improved personality and etiquette, people don’t really watch the show for the bad-to-good transformation (which is most likely fake and scripted anyway)–they watch it to see the catfights and the girls’ bad behavior–it’s nothing more than digital rubbernecking. Of course, to get on the show, a girl has to act like a complete bitch, so in effect, the bad behavior is glorified.

Michelle Duggar of the TLC hit “19 Kids and Counting” gives me mega N vibes. While putting on this mask of being an angelic, meek, deferent, soft spoken, ultra religious Mother of the Year, I highly suspect this act is fake as hell and Michelle is actually a media savvy, manipulative operator behind the scenes, much like Kate Gosselin. Having babies seems to give Michelle a narcissistic rush, but once each child becomes a toddler, she pans them off to an older sibling (always a girl) who is to be their “buddy” and basically raise that child herself, so Michelle can focus on having the next baby. Evidently once she had her 19th child she finally became too old to birth any more children. Her last pregnancy ended in miscarriage and she has not become pregnant since.

Another of TLC’s offerings (which I think has been cancelled) was a show called “Toddlers and Tiaras,” a documentary-style behind the scenes look at child beauty queens and their parents, who shamelessly exploit their young children and push them into these pageants. Almost without exception, the parents are narcissists who try to turn their child into a showpiece, whether the child wants to participate or not. The children’s own wishes and interests are not respected and in some cases, the parents’ (usually the mother’s) behavior borders on abuse. When all the makeup, fake tans, fake teeth, and creepy sexualization of the child is finally done, the kid looks more like a doll than a human being, and it’s chilling to see. Only a narcissist would understand the appeal of making a child look like that.

toddlersandtiaras
Believe it or not, this is a child, not a doll.

Talent contest shows seem to have more legitimacy since some of the contestants actually have a talent, such as singing, cooking or dancing (and usually, the most talented are the ones that make it farthest and go on to win). Still, I think narcissism is a motivator for many of the participants, and NPD is highly represented among both the contestants and the judges.

Mean, abusive, tantrum throwing judges like Gordon Ramsey of “Hell’s Kitchen” is a good example of a highly narcissistic judge who is probably malignant as well. The contestants’ terror of Ramsey’s narcissistic rages is one of the show’s attractions. Simon Cowell, a savvy business tycoon who made his fortune with his empire of singing reality shows like “American Idol.” “America’s Got Talent,” and “The X-Factor,” is probably still most famous for his mean, sarcastic, and abusive commentary to the fledgling singers on the once popular show, “American Idol.” People would tune in just to see what he would say to some poor hapless auditoner. While Cowell gives generously to charity, that doesn’t mean he’s not a narcissist.

simoncowell
Simon Cowell

I read a horrifying story once about Cowell and I don’t doubt it’s probably true (unfortunately I can’t locate the link right now). Some years back, Cowell developed an attraction to a contestant named Nikki McKibbin. At first Cowell was nice to her (he was always nice to contestants he liked), but one day he told her (not on the show itself) he thought her eyes were so pretty he wanted to remove them and keep them in a jar by his bed. Ms. McKibbin was understandably so spooked she decided to stop speaking to Cowell and started treated him coldly offset. Cowell, suffering narcissistic injury, got back at her by henceforth being extremely critical of every one of her performances, where before he had been nothing but complimentary. Nikki must have been popular in spite of Cowell’s campaign against her, because she went all the way to 3rd place.

This year’s “American Idol” winner, a rock singer named Caleb Johnson, is from my town (Asheville, NC) and while there is no argument he’s extremely talented (and an unusual winner for being a hard rocker on a show that features pop singers), he displayed enough narcissistic traits during his appearance on the show it would not surprise me if he has NPD–but of course that could have been due to the scripting too (I don’t think these reality shows are really based much on actual reality).

calebjohnson
Caleb Johnson

There was an incident where during an interview which occurred offset, Caleb called his fans “retarded.” This could have just been the ignorant gaffe of a young guy who didn’t quite know how to handle overnight fame and having to deal with the media, so I’m not going to judge his behavior too harshly. I have no proof he has NPD.

In summary, narcissism does seem to be highly represented among reality show participants (and is definitely glorified on these shows), especially the shows that reward and showcase bad, immoral, or abusive behavior.

Advertisements

Famous people who have NPD

parishilton

This is not my own list, but I agree with most of the people listed in this blog post.

Here is the entire article:

There are many people all around us that suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), more commonly referred to as narcissism. There are many well known individuals who display characteristics of narcissism, if not full blown NPD. They range from politicians to celebrities, from ministers to business leaders. Some writers and researchers believe that successful and famous people have acquired or situational narcissism; they do show narcissistic traits but only after they have worked hard, sometimes for years, to get there. But that success often produces a personality pattern replete with narcissistic traits. Others believe that these people were narcissistic to begin with and sought out opportunities and fields that would satisfy their narcissistic needs. Either way, once they become famous it leads to narcissistic thinking and behaviors; they have lots of money and/or fame, don’t wait in line at restaurants or events, have limo service, and are asked for photographs and so on. This often leads to demanding behavior, feeling they are above the law, becoming more exhibitionistic and many have public social or emotional meltdowns (frequent run-ins with the law, drug and alcohol abuse, attempting suicide, etc.).
Let’s take a look at some of the famous people who show personality traits that suggest narcissism. Most of them show grandiose thinking and exaggerated self-importance, many believe or fantasize about the power they have, most believe they are special, need to be admired and feel entitled. Many dictators and criminals had or have narcissistic personalities as well as the Hollywood celebrities; some are negative role models and some are positive. Hitler and Stalin both had grandiose self-images as did Casanova, Marquis de Sade, Peter Sellers, and the heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard. Other likely suspects are Madonna, Margaret Thatcher, Paris Hilton and O.J. Simpson. Here are just a few of the many that come to mind:

hitler

Jim Jones
Saddam Hussein
Warren Beatty
Ryan O’Neal
Alec Baldwin
Sharon Stone
Elvis Presley
William Shatner
Joan Crawford
Pablo Picasso
Ike Turner
Lee Harvey Oswald
Donald Trump
Kayne West
Charlie Chaplin
Marlon Brando
Eva Peron
Simon Cowell
Liberace
Adolph Hitler
Joseph Mengele
Joseph Stalin
Ted Bundy
O.J. Simpson
Paris Hilton
Madonna

donaldtrump

The author also has Marilyn Manson on the list, but while I do think he has psychological issues, I don’t think that he is a narcissist. From what I have read of him, he has exceedingly low self esteem and was bullied in school. Narcissists are rarely victims of school bullying.

Many of these people are successful and talented entertainers, and as such have contributed in a positive way to the world, so while they may be narcissists, some of them are probably not malignant narcissists or psychopathic (this just means they are less high on the narcissist spectrum than people who have contributed nothing to the world except evil and misery or have led a parasitic, exploitative lifestyle. Some may even possess small amounts of empathy and give generously to charity.)

simoncowell

Here’s a few others I would add (not a complete list by any means):

Kanye West

The Koch Brothers
Rush Limbaugh
Ayn Rand (she glorified narcissists in her books and a serial killer was her role model)
Scott Peterson
Osama bin Laden
Susan Smith
Jodi Arias
Dick Cheney
Sarah Palin
John Edwards (D-SC who cheated on his wife while she was dying from cancer)
Joel Osteen
Bette Davis
Joan Crawford (may have been Borderline rather than NPD)
Bing Crosby
Mick Jagger
Ted Nugent
Justin Beiber
Nikki Minaj
Most televangelists
Most Reality TV stars
Many rap and rock stars (narcissism is part of their whole badass “package” but it may not be genuine)

justinbeiber

Many people have accused Barack Obama of being a narcissist, but I disagree.

I found this interesting chart showing different high-profile professions and the corresponding level of narcissistic traits. Not surprisingly, Reality TV scores highest. (Click to enlarge the chart)

narcissistchart

The distinctive “look” of psychopathy: gazing into the face of evil

blackhole
Gaze into the void…

Psychopaths and malignant narcissists are very good at putting on masks to get others to trust them. They can seem warm and charming when they want to. But sometimes they can be caught when their mask is momentarily down (usually when they’ve been called out–or caught), and it’s here when we see the emptiness and evil inside them.

I’ve described this look before–I’ve seen it on my mother’s face and it gave me nightmares for weeks. I saw it once on my ex’s face when he was drunk and angry. It’s not so much a demonic look (which has a sort of life to it) as a dead, lifeless look that is far worse. It’s a malignant look that makes you want to get away from them fast. Like there’s nothing inside them except an vast and endless black void of nothingness. It’s like standing at the precipice of a black hole, and what can be more terrifying than some nameless void that can suck you into itself–and can even swallow light?

Many people have mentioned the intense stare a psychopathic person will fix you with, even when they are trying to charm you into trusting them. During the “wooing” phase, you may think this intense stare indicates attentiveness and strong interest in you as a person, but actually all they’re interested in is how they can use you and later destroy you. Make no mistake–they are predators out for the kill. If you have met someone who seems to stare at you excessively, or in a predatory way that makes you uneasy, that person is probably a psychopath or malignant narcissist trying to get their hooks into you. RUN LIKE HELL.

I don’t think evil is the opposite of good. I think evil is the opposite of somethingness–evil is pure black nothingness. Here are some examples of the dead, reptilian eyes of known psychopaths and malignant narcissists.

dennis_rader_1973
Serial killer Dennis Rader

jodiarias
Convicted murderer Jodi Arias. Her trial footage shows as many fake tears and mask-changes as Scott Peterson’s and none of her “emotions” seem genuine.

scottpeterson
Scott Peterson, unfaithful husband who murdered his pregnant wife and unborn child.

susansmith
Susan Smith, who murdered her two young sons by sinking them in a car she drove into a lake because she wanted to please her lover, who did not want children.

SO.0511.Mothers2.HO
Actress Joan Crawford (“Mommie Dearest”), who was an alcoholic and abusive mother to two of her adoptive children (some reports classify her as having Borderine Personality Disorder with Histrionic and Narcissistic elements, rather than NPD)

In some cases, psychopaths show a distinctive smirk or sneer. Their eyes may twinkle, but it’s a hard, cold, glittering twinkle that is malevolent and creepy. Behind the twinkle, the eyes are still reptilian and dead. You may see this look when they think they’ve pulled one over on you–or perversely, when you’ve pulled one over on them–and they are ready to kill you either literally or figuratively. Here are some examples of this look:

Osama Bin Laden Headshot
Osama bin Laden, fundamentalist Islamic mastermind who ordered the attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon in 2001.

charlesmanson
Mass murderer Charles Manson, who never killed anyone himself but had his cult of followers do his dirty work for him. Some think he’s psychotic and therefore not responsible for his actions, but he’s a psychopath who knew exactly what he was doing and has never shown an ounce of remorse.

dickcheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the brains behind the disastrous and dishonest Bush administration and our “preemptive” invasion of Iraq. Cheney and his cronies bailed out or pardoned corporate criminals like Halliburton. How could you trust a man with a face like that?

kochbrothers
The Koch Brothers, multibillionaire CEOs who by their words and deeds have shown their disdain and comtempt for the “little people” which includes both the poor and middle class. These jerks have zero empathy and seem very psychopathic.

ojsimpson
Former pro football player and actor O.J. Simpson during his famous 1995 murder trial. This insolent expression became his trademark look while he was on trial.

tedbundy
Serial killer Ted Bundy’s infamous look of psychopathic glee. *shudder*

unknownwoman
I don’t know this woman, but she is a malignant narcissist who apparently gets her jollies making the people who lived in her building miserable. Someone on another website about narcissists was being attacked by her and called her out. I wouldn’t have included her here, but this is one of the most frightening looking people I’ve ever seen. Her eyes look like those solid black eyes you see in horror movies of demonic people. I have no doubt this woman is as evil as she looks.

richardramirez
Serial killer and alleged Satanist Richard Ramirez.

I’ve also included this Court TV program covering the arrest and trial of murderer Scott Peterson. Notice how he uses tears to manipulate the police and interviewer, but how insincere he seems and the way he arranges his facial features into whatever “mask” he thinks will help his case. There are those who insist he is not guilty (and I had my doubts too) and of course being good looking like Ted Bundy, he had a number of “groupies” who defended him, but he’s an intelligent manipulator and after watching this video, I absolutely believe Scott Peterson killed his wife and unborn son in cold blood.