Diagnose This Type

I’m going to lay out for you a personality type that is epidemic now in the US, especially among younger people. You also find a lot more of it among minorities, especially Blacks, and particularly if they don’t have a lot of money.
I said in an earlier post that narcissism and sociopathy are a spectrum – a spectrum that starts at extroversion. Now millions of folks will bristle at that suggestion in an extroverted society like ours where introverts are condemned as sick and weird and extroversion is heralded as the only normal way to be human.
But hang on a second.
Let me paint a picture of a couple of types who are employed at an institution run by a friend of mine. They’re a young couple working at a community college in another state back East.
My friend’s boss hired them as a couple. I now think that hiring couples is a bad idea. The man is known as M. and the woman is known as C. They are both hired to work in the Computer Center helping the students who come in to work on the computers. However, M. spends about as much time out of the center, sitting on the benches talking to his younger friends, as he does in the center.
C. also works in the center. However, she is cheating on her time card in various ways. For instance, if she tutors four students at once in a 1-hour period, she counts that as 4 hours! Both M. and C. quickly took advantage of another woman, L. Now L. is a nice young woman who is very short. So short, she is practically a dwarf. She’s also quite heavy. M. is a handsome, strapping, sexy young man and C. is young and beautiful.
Both have smooth, winning, upbeat personalities, excellent social skills in a variety of ways, and are seen as “cool”, “winners”, etc. They have more friends than they can count.
Both M. and C. immediately saw L. as a weak person, or an object to be exploited. Quickly the excuses started coming. “Could L. cover for M.?” “Could L. please cover for C.?”. L. is shy and was probably pleased to be befriended by good-looking and popular couple. The deal was that L. would get paid for the time she was covering for M. and C.
Well, I guess L. is a little slow, because this went on for a while before she figured out that she was getting ripped off. Every hour that L. covered for M. and C., M. and C. stole that hour and marked it down for themselves. L. got zero dollars for the time she covered for the couple. L. finally got up the nerve to complain about it and said she’s not covering anymore. She’s not getting a nickel of the money she deserves, because she’s not fighting for that.
M. and C. are often arguing and fighting with the boss. The boss tells them to do something, and it’s why should I, that’s dumb, or this or that. That’s not how it works around the office. The boss says jump and you ask how high. M. and C. are clueless about whether this is a good idea or not.
Both M. and C. plan to be nurses, though they are at a community college in their late 20’s. Both are quite bright and get excellent grades. However, both cheat in class quite a bit. Apparently they convince other students to let them turn in other students’ notes or lab work as their own. So they get A’s, but it’s not even their own work.
When C. first showed up for work, she quickly charmed the boss into writing a letter of recommendation for her at her new residence, promising that she would be a good tenant. This though the boss barely knew her.
M. has just been fired, and boy is he pissed. One of the secretaries busted him. He had promised the boss that he was going to work 3.5 days a week this semester, even signing a paper pledging to do this, but as it turns out, he is only able to work 2 hours a week. The secretary pointed this out to the boss,  and the boss finally had it. M. is gone.
Instead of being contrite, he called the secretary up at work and blasted her with a string of four letter words and veiled threats.  This is what happens when you mess with M. – you pay.  C. is on the ropes and about ready to be fired too. She was supposed to cover for my friend over lunch, but she called and said she couldn’t. You don’t do that around there. When you’re supposed to cover, you cover. If you can’t, you clear it with the boss first. She didn’t, my friend had to work through her lunch,  and C. is this far being getting canned.
I listened to the story, interested. Then I asked, “Extroverts?” Oh, of course! Excellent social skills, great talkers, always smiling and happy, tons of friends, exude confidence, friendliness, self-esteem. Then I asked another question, “Narcissistic?” Oh yes! They are both headed for greatness.
C. has a story. She’s still in her 20’s, but she has fallen from greatness. She had it all down in L.A., a great guy who made tons of money, a great big house, the good life. She caught him cheating and he “ruined her financially.” He ran up all her credit cards,  destroyed her credit and she ended up broke. She moved out and back to her parents’ house,  humiliated. Now she has nothing, but she’s fallen from greatness. No one is really sure what to make of this story or whether it is true or not.
I’m not really sure what to do with these folks,  but you can see what I mean when I said that the narcissism-sociopathy spiral starts with mere extroversion. The virulent traits of the narcissist and sociopath are already there, often in very muted forms, in the mere extrovert, as the pathology of the avoidant or dependent personality is already there in the introvert.
The spectrum, as I mentioned, goes healthy narcissism -> extroversion -> narcissistic traits -> narcissistic personality disorder -> malignant narcissism -> sociopath.
I’m not arguing that there is anything wrong with extroversion.  Certainly it gets you further in life than the style of us retiring types.
I used to throw parties where 200 people would show up, filling the house, the front yard and backyard and spilling out into the streets, with a live band, kegs of beer and house full of beautiful women.
That was long ago in another world, but it was still me, and in some weird way, it still is me. So that’s a part of me too. The true introverts I know are horrified that I walk up to total strangers and start talking to them. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t, but the real introverts recoil in horror when I tell them this. They could, and would, not approach total strangers just for conversation. So you see, most of us are mixed introvert-extrovert types to one degree or another.
Now, what do we do with M. and C.? They display a personality type that is highly rewarded in our extroversion-oriented society. Even though everyone at the college knows what they are up to, hardly anyone cares, and they have more friends than you could shake a stick it. They are very popular with the students.
They’re also scamming their way through life, exploiting others, lying, cheating, stealing and just being general shits (if you ask me).
If you ask for a DSM dx from a clinician, you may not even get one for M. and C. I can’t think of a DSM dx to give either of them. There’s a bit of narcissism going on, but that’s all over society. They’re behaving unethically in a lot of ways, but that’s not necessarily in the DSM. I don’t believe either one gets Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or any other PD, dx.
This shows you that much difficult behavior is not termed crazy by mental health folks. A lot of folks that others regard as weird, nuts, dangerous, psycho, creepy or unpleasant get a clean bill of mental health from a clinician.
Now, onto something else.
Is it just me, or do these types seem to be getting more and more common? It seems to me that we breed narcissism like rabbits in our capitalistic and hyper-individualistic society. And I’m afraid that stuff like the Internet and blogging just feeds it even more.
Finally, I would add that capitalism can encourage M. and C.’s behavior to epidemic proportions.

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