A Narcissism Test? Really?
Some Facebook friends were recently discussing a video about how co-dependents “always” fall in love with narcissists, to which someone replied with a link to a video suggesting a sort of narcissism litmus test. The suggestion is that a narcissist cannot answer the question “What about yourself would you most like to change,” or experience a normal, human, empathic reaction to movies like Bladerunner and Good Will Hunting.
Now, I don’t know jack about codependency or narcissism, but after taking the Phillip K Dick lure, I was left thinking they might be on to something. If narcissism is what is described in these videos, and if codependents really need such a test, then they are suffering from some serious psychological brokeness.
My radar might must be calibrated a bit lower than others, but to me, long before you get to clinical narcissism, you pass through a whole deteriorating spectrum of self-absorption and delusion and personality nasties sufficient to set me running. I stopped dating a girl once because she wanted to coordinate the outfits we wore on our dates.
Instead, I married a girl who taught science not because she had no other choices but because she thought the world needed more girls who love science. She had joined the army reserves because she felt she needed to grow a spine. She was assigned to a medical clearing company and had just started school to become an army combat field medic when the busload of cheerleaders she was chaparoning came upon a car crash on a rural Louisiana highway.
She ran through the wreckage and found two survivors: a middle aged woman, pinned behind the wheel with trauma to the face and neck, and a teenage girl, presumably her daughter, laying across the far lane in a smatter of blood-soaked brain matter. An ambulance appeared, but the drivers were not paramedics, just drivers paid by the nearest town and trained in basic first aid. They ran over with a stretcher and started trying to revive the girl as if she had been pulled from the local swimming hole, not hurled fifty feet onto concrete with blown pupils and a crushed skull and a heart too stunned to quite know to lay still.
The first thing every combat field medic learns is triage, the art of sorting out the doomed so the living might be saved. So she explained that and had them free the mother, reminding them how to protect her spinal cord. By now the woman’s throat was swelling shut, so she walked them through the second thing she had learned, an emergency tracheotomy. Then, when they had the poor woman stable and ready to transport, she told them the third thing she had learned: when a woman on the precipice of death opens her eyes and asks after the daughter already cooling in the morning sun, you lie.
The ambulance pulled away. She walked back past the buses, sending the girls back to their seats before a car or a snake or God knew what could come along, and in the ditch behind the buses, threw up. Some of the others brought water with which to wash, a blanket behind which to change, and a giant T-shirt to replace her blood stained clothes. She wouldn’t board the bus in front of the girls until the shaking stopped.
Narcissim? Fuck that.