It’s Narcissist Friday!
I have often wondered how parents of autistic children handle the new media attempts to portray autism as something desirable. There are several television shows that feature autistic young people with some minor social struggles, but miraculous abilities. The boy on “Touch” is a good example. According to the story, he has an amazing ability to see connections between people and events. In our “speak first, think later” culture, I can imagine someone saying, “Oh you have an autistic son? How cool! What can he do?”
Now, please understand that I would never have brought that up, except that it is really happening. What I hesitated even to wonder about publicly, because of the disrespect toward parents and children who work so hard, is actually being said. I have heard twice now of parents who tried to have their child diagnosed as autistic so they could receive a different type of education and be seen as special. (Check out the articles below.)
When the media tries to fix our perception of a difficult situation, an emotional or social problem, for example, it often ends up hurting people. From Otis, the happy and gracious drunk on the Andy Griffith show to Dr. House, the narcissistic diagnostician, Hollywood takes something difficult and makes it light or cute or even something superior.
So get ready. Narcissism is becoming popular. I mentioned Dr. House. Now there’s Frank Underwood, Kevin Spacey’s character on House of Cards (and his wife and many of his friends). Narcissists are seen as positive characters, even with all their negatives exposed. Consider Dr. House. The show is done now, but still very popular in reruns. House is mean, angry, abusive, judgmental, and egotistical. He hurts everyone who tries to be kind to him. He uses other people for his own pleasure. He readily admits that he isn’t a nice guy, but he doesn’t care.
We are led to believe that he had father issues and that he is in constant physical pain. All of these negatives are explained away and set aside because he is an incredible doctor. There’s no doubt that House is good at what he does, but he uses his team like slaves and gives them little credit, often calling them “idiots” and trying to turn them against each other. Let’s face it: House is a jerk.
But if the narcissism causes him to be such a good doctor, we think it must be something inherently good. After all, look at all the people who have been helped. If that’s what narcissism does. . .
Narcissism was removed from the DSM V, presumably because it is no longer considered a mental or personality disorder. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to suspect that it is becoming acceptable, or even desirable if defined a certain way. We live in a ruthless culture that uses people and discards them. We live in a culture that values short-term success. We live in a culture that thrives on attraction and devalues relationship.
If you go to Psychology Today online and look at the articles and blog posts on narcissism, you will find an increasing number of them that tell of the wonders of narcissism. Narcissists are attractive. Narcissists are sexy. Narcissists get things done. Narcissists are exciting. Narcissists are better at picking up girls. Yes, they will tell about the negatives, but after the positive hype.
So get ready. I can imagine the day when someone says, “Oooo, you were in a relationship with a narcissist? I know they have problems with commitment, but was it good while it lasted?”
Try not to punch that person in the mouth.
Here are a couple of articles on the effects of exploiting autism, if you are interested in looking into this further. The second uses some strong language.