It’s Narcissist Friday!
Here’s a test for you. I am calling it the Abuser Test. You might be an abuser if:
1. …your wife has a black eye because you hit her.
2. …your kids try to hide from you when you are drunk.
3. …you have isolated your family from any supportive people.
4. …your wife cries a lot, but she tries hard never to show that to you.
5. …your kids flinch when you are angry.
6. …you have broken furniture or other personal items in your anger.
7. …your neighbors stay away from you, but talk about your poor family.
8. …you feel a little guilty for hurting others but don’t stop.
9. …your wife and kids wear long sleeves to hide their bruises.
10. …your kids can’t wait to leave home, but don’t because they worry about mom.
Now, did we really need that? I don’t think so. What abuser is going to look at that list of things and be surprised? What abuser is going to take the test and suddenly discover the truth about himself? No, that isn’t the way it works. Besides that, how many abusers are reading this post?
Okay, I can’t say that such a thing would never happen. But most abusers are fully aware that their actions are hurting others. And few would take a test like this in the first place.
I realize I am out on thin ice here, but this is what I think of the increasingly popular “You might be a narcissist if…” tests. What used to be a helpful list of narcissistic characteristics for victims has been turned into a popular test for abusers. The characteristics might be accurate, but the audience is wrong.
A few years ago, when I started teaching about narcissism, I discovered a video of a young lady who took the test in Dr. Drew Pinsky’s book, “The Mirror Effect.” This was a “selfie” video where the young lady talked about her thoughts on the test and her score. She rated very high. And then she proceeded to challenge her viewers to take the test to see if they could beat her score! I have used this in my classes to help counselors understand that the narcissist does not see his/her negative behavior as something wrong.
I recently came across a popular article titled: “15 Signs You Might Be A Narcissist.” You have probably seen it. Many of the characteristics are right on target. When I tried to track down the source, I found another article called, “21 signs you are a narcissist.” That was at a website called Business Insider. But the kicker was the link at the end to yet another article: “4 reasons narcissists can be highly effective leaders.”
Do you see what I mean? Narcissists are often very happy to be narcissists. The culture has turned this cruel behavior into a positive. I suppose we should have expected this. After all, the narcissist truly does not care how his/her behavior affects others. If it works, which it usually does, then it is acceptable. The narcissist considers himself to be the superior leader, strategist, parent, etc. His behavior, no matter how cruel, is just his way of asserting that superiority.
Not all are happy to be called narcissists, of course. Some are indifferent. I once gave an expensive book to a man I considered narcissistic. I wanted him to read about the behavior that his wife and I saw in him. He simply threw it away. He wasn’t interested. He didn’t care what we thought. Our concerns about his behavior were of no concern to him.
You see, I doubt that a real narcissist will be helped by these tests. I think they trivialize narcissism, even popularize it. Most narcissists simply don’t care. Others will be affirmed by the test.
Victims, on the other hand, are victimized again. It hurts again when you realize people are admiring the behavior that did so much damage to you and your family. It hurts again when people trivialize your pain. It hurts again when the narcissist is lifted up as someone special.
So I hope you will understand when I decide not to link to these tests. If they are meant to help victims understand what has been happening, then they have value. But if they are meant to help narcissists feel good about themselves, we really don’t need them.