An excellent question over at Morgan’s. I took a stab at an answer over there, but I think it needs fleshing out. So:
Here’s The Last Psychiatrist on the new narcissism. Worth reading in full, as almost all of his stuff is, but here’s the upshot:
Consider the narcissist who wants his wife to wear only white, high heeled pumps. The narcissist wants this not because he himself likes white high heel pumps– which he might– but because the type of person he thinks he is would only be with the type of woman who wears white high heeled pumps. Or, in other terms, other people would expect someone like himself to be with a woman who wears those shoes. What he likes isn’t the relevant factor, and certainly what she likes is irrelevant. What matters is that she (and her shoes) are accessories to him….
Narcissists typically focus on specific things as proxies for their identity. As in the example above, that the woman might be obese or a paraplegic could be ignored if the footwear was the proxy for identity. These proxies are also easy to describe but loaded with implication: “I’m married to a blonde.” Saying “blonde” implies something– e.g. she’s hot– that might not be true. But the narcissist has so fetishized “blondeness” that it is disconnected from reality. The connotations, not the reality, are what matters (especially if other people can’t check.)
Emphases added. It’s not a word-for-word description of liberal behavior. The clinical narcissist’s proxy — the specific fetish object around which his identity revolves — remains stable over time, whereas the liberal’s changes all the time, effortlessly, without warning, like a school of fish. But it’s in the ballpark.
Consider Morgan’s example, the Kung Flu facemask. I think it’s fair to say that liberals are obsessed with this. Moreover, it’s obvious that it is an obsession, in the clinical psychological sense — it doesn’t matter to the liberal why you have to wear a facemask, as indeed the supposed rationale changes daily. It only matters that you wear a facemask. You wearing a facemask is central to their identity as liberals, just as the narcissist’s obese, paraplegic wife wearing high-heeled pumps that went out of style 30 years ago are central to his identity in TLP’s example.
If you look at it from the perspective of the liberal’s chosen identity, a lot of their behavior makes sense. Who, exactly, is the type of guy whose wife wears white high-heeled pumps? Figure that out, and you’ve got the guy nailed. Maybe in his mind he’s James Bond. You want to know what he’ll do in a certain situation, think about what James Bond would do…
… except that’s not right, either. You have to think about, not just what James Bond would do, but what that guy thinks James Bond would do. It’s a lot tougher, requires a second “filter,” if you will — you have to get into not just Bond’s head, but the headspace of a guy who thinks he’s playing James Bond. (And maybe even into the different iterations of Bond — if the guy thinks he’s Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, and you’re basing your evaluation off Daniel Craig’s Bond, you’ll come to different conclusions, even though you’re both trying to figure out what “James Bond” would do in a certain situation)….
Fortunately, James Bond is a fictional character. That makes it a lot easier, because if you want to reverse-engineer the narcissist’s thought processes, you can use the same basic story template he’s using. Remember, the narcissist thinks he’s the star of his own movie. That’s a big help, because even though there are a lot of James Bond movies, they all have the same basic structure, in which Bond faces the same basic situations, and handles them in basically the same way. So instead of asking “what would James Bond do?” about a specific mundane situation that has never come up in the movies, it’s much easier to translate it into a movie scene. What would James Bond do if the window guy at Mickey D’s forgot to super-size his fries? Dunno; James Bond has never faced that kind of thing in the movies. If Bond ever were to go through the drive-up at McD’s, it’d be because the fry guy is actually Blofeld in disguise…
See what I mean? The question “What would James Bond do?” becomes a lot easier to process if you first figure out “What James Bond movie scene is this?”
To return to Morgan’s question, and the mask: For the Liberal, the character they’re playing is “Genius.” House MD, or maybe Mulder from the X-Files. Maybe Spock, if they’re old enough, or Commander Data, or whatever, the actual character doesn’t matter much for predictive purposes. What matters is that the character “Genius” is what they think a heroically big-brained movie character would do in a given situation. The docs in the ER think it’s just a bad flu, but Genius — in this case, House MD — knows it’s really some pathogen that hasn’t been seen since 1378. The Vancouver cops think it’s a gangland slaying, but Mulder knows it’s really the chupacabra. And, of course, Genius is right! It doesn’t matter that Scully and the Vancouver cops have seventy-seven other much more plausible theories. The mountain of data arguing against the chupacabra doesn’t matter. Hell, it doesn’t even matter that what Mulder is 100% right about this week directly contradicts something he was 100% right about last week:
What he’s right about doesn’t matter. At all. All that matters is that he’s right, every single time. And he knows it, every single time. He doesn’t express doubt. He doesn’t wonder if Scully might be right, just this once. Scully’s never right, because that’s the character, so even though her objections are logical, reasonable, and backed by shitloads of actual evidence out in the real world, she’s wrong, because she’s Skeptical Sidekick and he’s Genius, that’s the movie they’re in.
Look at it that way, and their behavior suddenly makes a lot more sense.Loading Likes...