Test of the 3 R’s (acquired situational narcissism vs. NPD)

narcrealityshows

I just read an interesting article by Sam Vaknin (author of Malignant Self-Love) describing a condition that afflicts some celebrities and other high-profile people or people who achieved overnight success, called Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN). It can also occur in codependents of a narcissist (what the ACON community calls “fleas”). ASN can mimic NPD, but tends to diminish over time or if the person’s fortunes change. But a more important difference is that a person with ASN isn’t lacking what he calls “The Three R’s.” These are:

1. Remorse
2. Remediation
3. Restoration

Narcissism is used as a coping strategy but doesn’t necessarily become a life sentence. I’ve done enough editorializing, so here is the article.

The Test of Three R’s
By Sam Vaknin
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/the-test-of-three-rs

Acquired Situational Narcissism can be induced in adulthood by celebrity, wealth, and fame. But, it may also occur in a variety of other situations. Codependents, aiming to fend off gnawing abandonment anxiety, can resort to and evolve narcissistic and even psychopathic behaviours and traits in order to cater the whims of their “loved” ones; in anomic societies and depraved cultural or religious settings, people with a conformist bend tend to adopt antisocial modes of conduct and personal style so as to “fit in” and belong.

How can we tell whether one’s narcissism is of the ephemeral, derivative variety – or an integral, immutable, and inalienable feature of his or her personality? By applying the test of “Three Rs”: Remorse, Remediation, and Restoration.

To qualify, remorse has to be expressed repeatedly and must be heartfelt. It should entail a modicum of sacrifice, embarrassment, and inconvenience. Regretting one’s misdeeds in public is more convincing than sending a private missive or whispering “sorry” anonymously. Remediation requires making amends and offering reparations, which are commensurate with the offending acts and bear some symbolic relation to them. Thus, financial abuse can be absolved only with the aid of a monetary compensation that corresponds to the damage done and suffered. Finally, restoration involves affording one’s victims the opportunity for closure, if not forgiveness, so that they can move on with their lives.

True narcissists and psychopaths fail the Three Rs test at every turn: their remorse is feigned and ostentatious; they provide little or no recompense; and they never put themselves at the victim’s disposal to allow her to achieve that she needs most: closure.

Read the rest of Sam’s article here.

Related to this, on February 22, writer/producer Nancy Fulton will be interviewing Sam Vaknin about the portrayal of narcissists in media and entertainment. More info can be found here.

Some days I just want to crawl into a hole and make myself very small.

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DISCLAIMER:
I feel like a disclaimer is needed, though the above photo should be enough of a disclaimer, because it says it all. Someone made a sarcastic remark about how I think I’m a celebrity because of this post, so I let their comment make me set this post to private, because I don’t have a thick skin and am too chicken to come out with a snappy or snarky comeback. I always think other people can get away with doing that, but I won’t be allowed to. It’s because of my past. I was never allowed to speak my mind or have a voice. Now I’ve internalized that and don’t allow myself a voice sometimes. I’m getting better but I’m not out of the woods yet.

In no way do I put myself in the same category as celebrities (who are just people who get wrinkles, have morning breath, and have to use the toilet sometimes like everyone else). I thought I made the distinction pretty clear. For someone who has felt like a nothing my entire life, and always been told I am nothing, and treated with disdain and disrespect, even by the people who were supposed to love me, a little thing like having 1,000 followers or having articles that get popular can seem like a huge deal. To a normal person with healthy self esteem and who felt loved and had a normal sense of belonging, such an achievement might seem like nothing, but to me, it’s a huge accomplishment. If people have an issue with this, and want to judge me for this, or think I’m saying I’m a celebrity, maybe they need to look in the mirror at themselves and stop being so judgmental. Nothing makes me more angry than being judged, especially by people who know next to nothing about me or what motivates me.

I’m tired of always feeling like I have to apologize just for existing. I’ve felt that way all my life.
So, here is that “offensive” article.

I think it would be hard to be famous. Imagine millions of people you never met and never will meet knowing everything about you, obsessing over every detail of your personal life, staring at your pictures, talking about you amongst themselves, worshipping you, hating you, carrying lunchboxes with your photo on them or wearing clothes or perfume with your name on them. Imagine going into a grocery store to buy some butter and finding your own mug plastered on every tabloid. Imagine total strangers walking up to you and addressing you by name and trying to touch you. No wonder celebrities hate the paparazzi. Sure, getting cameras shoved in your face comes with the territory of being famous/getting paid as if you’re a small nation (and should be accepted with grace under normal circumstances), but when a celebrity just has enough of the lack of privacy and punches a photographer in the face, I totally get it. Celebrities are only human, after all. They’re not “special” or somehow above the rest of humanity; they were just lucky or worked very hard or have a special gift to get where they are. Or they have a famous dad. *cough*The Kardashians*cough*

I’m far from famous, but lately this blog has gained enough visibility that I have “haters” and “fans.” I don’t want to be hated or worshipped; frankly I don’t think I deserve either. I’m just a regular and rather boring person who knows about a lot about something and knows how to write about it. I’m glad my blog is doing well. It feels good. It validates what I’m doing. It feels good to know that someone somewhere may find some help or hope through my words. It feels good when someone reblogs an article of mine or tells me something I said changed their life, or even just made their day a little better. It makes me feel like I have some purpose in this world, after years of believing I had no purpose other than to be an example to other people of how NOT to be. Someday I may achieve some level of notoriety if I write the book I want to write (and as of now, I have no earthly idea what sort of book I would write), or something incredible happens like The Huffington Post decides to pick up an article I wrote, or even if I ever get Freshly Pressed. More likely than not, I won’t be famous even then. I don’t really care either, because fame has never been something I strove for.

But there are still days when as a somewhat successful blogger (and by that I just mean this blog has grown steadily due to some fortuitous circumstances and a LOT of hard work on my part, not that I’m the new Opinionated Man or anything) I feel too naked and exposed. At these times I say to myself, “I’m not ready! Wait! This is too scary!” I feel that way right now.

When your blog starts becoming visible and coming up on page 1 or 2 in the search engines, sometimes certain articles you wrote suddenly get shared a lot or even go viral. If the article is one you’re proud of and worked hard on, it’s a great feeling. But sometimes an article you kind of wanted to get buried quickly and forgotten gets found anyway and starts gaining momentum. This isn’t really a bad thing. After all, if I really didn’t want an article to be read, I would have set it to “Private.” So sure, I suppose I wanted it to be read, but I didn’t want it to go viral either. So at this moment, I’m feeling a tad too exposed and naked for comfort. It’s silly to feel like this, but sometimes I just do. I’ve always been a reserved, shy kind of person (I’m textbook INFJ) and while I like a moderate amount of attention occasionally — just to make sure I still exist (how narcissistic of me) — I don’t want negative attention or an excessive amount of attention, whether negative or positive. I’ve always been uncomfortable being the focal point in any situation that involves more than two people. I’m easily embarrassed. I blush and stammer. I act weird and awkward. When I turned three, I cried when they sang Happy Birthday. This natural reticence is actually good, because it reassures me I’m not the raving narcissist I sometimes think I am (or God forbid, could be turning into).

So I have mixed feelings about having so much visibility right now. I know “Internet fame” is kind of a huge joke (visualize rolling eyes and knowing snickers), but I won’t lie–there are days I really do enjoy the attention. But not every day. Sometimes I just want to crawl into a hole and make myself very small. Sometimes I feel like I’m in one of those dreams where you’re walking down a street or into a classroom or something and suddenly realize you don’t have any clothes on. It’s a weird and surreal experience, knowing so many strangers, some in exotic places like Mongolia or Kenya, are reading words that once lived only within the shadowy recesses of my brain, and are having their own thoughts and reactions I will never be privy to. It’s like a tiny taste of what it might feel like to be famous, and while it has its moments, I don’t think I could ever really get used to it. It just ain’t in my nature.

My attitude really just depends on which article of mine is getting so many views, and what sort of mood I’m in. I’m not at all sure I would handle fame well if I ever write a book that becomes a bestseller (not that it’s likely to happen). I might want to show up at book signings wearing a paper bag over my head with eyeholes in it-or at least a pair of dark sunglasses. Or become a recluse like J. D. Salinger. Or contemptuous of fame like Kurt Cobain. Especially because most of the things I write about make me feel so vulnerable. From Day One, I made a commitment to be 100% candid at all times and to hold back nothing. I’ve probably only achieved about 95% Total Emotional Honesty (if you knew the other 5% you’d be hitting the “Escape Button” faster than I can type “Wait! Please let me explain!”), but I guess that’s close enough.

Writers are a weird and tortured lot, I can assure you of that. You wouldn’t want to be inside my head most of the time.