I read an article on News.com.au about Narcissistic personality disorder and the ‘experiences’ of one sufferer. I think that the irony of printing a story that a narcissist has written about themselves seems to be lost on the publishers, I can just see this person sitting down and, if they do really have NPD, thinking ‘Hmmm, I know what would make me feel better today…writing about me.’ After reading this article, I am even more convinced that mainstream media is a machine made primarily for gossip-mongering, rather than for the valid release of actual news and events (although even when real news is reported that prevalence of certain events ie plane crashes, shark attacks, rare diseases, are always greatly overstated). I see colleagues chatting in tearooms whispering to one another “You know what, I reckon he’s a narcissist” simply because it is the new vogue in mental illness (remember when it was Adult ADD, ADHD, Autism, BiPolar….and the list goes on).
One of the main issues that I see with this is the concept of the Cosmopolitan (the magazine, not the drink) approach to diagnosis. Often news agencies will use so-called experts on health to stand head and shoulders above the rest and ‘out’ a certain disorder, whether it is the secret life of your bowel, food intolerances, allergies, or in this case, mental disorders. This is what has happened here, News.com.au have grabbed a story that they feel is interesting to their demographic (in this case a follow up story on the Saatchi/Nigella Lawson issue), and they have run with it, with no more research or forethought. It is reminiscent of the guy who tells you all about world affairs, but has very little real knowledge, just the surface stuff that he read in the newspaper once (oh wait, this is starting to form a cycle…).
I note also that the writer has stated that the medical fraternity ‘now’ have a name for what he is suffering from. The concept of NPD has been around for a very long time, and has been described by many psychiatric and psychological authors, it is not a new concept. The picture (of Don Draper) which accompanies the article really outlines the fact that News.com is merely pandering to what they feel is an apt audience, rather than to any real concern. It’s like they have asked ‘What’s in?’ and found that Mad Men is big and decided to simply run a story on it, that’s not news, that’s mediocre popularity pandering. And there has never been a sex addiction, or sociopath story released with a Sex and the City or Dexter picture, I bet, but I digress.
The real issue here is not that News.com.au are making attempts to provide bite sized chunks of information for their audience and to ensure that the information is released for the greater good. The issue is that journalists who have no other qualifications feel that it is their right and duty to ‘expose’ something which they do not understand. Therefore, we have old Mr. Anonymous writing in and telling his life story, and now associating with the moniker of Narcissistic Personality disorder, I wonder how many other things in his life he will now explain away with that diagnosis, how many things he will blame for it and how many other people (as can be seen in the comments section) will now have a faux-‘aha’ moment and believe that they have figured out something about themselves, or someone that they know, and then they adjust their behaviour around that person to what they feel is appropriate (having no more knowledge of the disorder than what was written on a website).
The real figures are relatively small for NPD 0.5-1% of the population will exhibit symptoms which warrant a diagnosis, that is, that, at the most, 1 in 100 people suffer from this personality disorder, which all being said is relatively tiny.
Again, like previous posts, this is an example of how humans can be so easily duped into believing something given limited information. Humans rely on seeking comfort (in many forms) and often doing that in the easiest ways possible. The article described gives a very easy manner in which to
‘explain away’ symptoms and problems in a persons life, rather than having to face them and deal with them. If you feel hurt from a previous relationship (whether it be social, intimate or work), maybe look at your part in the problem, rather than attempting to diagnose a problem you know nothing about, because the person whom you diagnose won’t get any help from your diagnosis, but by understanding your part, you will definitely gain a deeper understanding of yourself.