How Many Narcissists Does It Take to Rule the World

Artist: Diramazioni Illustration

The word narcissism is all over the news these days thanks to the Republican candidate for president, so I thought I would explore this concept a little more and how it relates to the world of art.

The Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as:

“…a mental disorder…inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.”
Artist: Terry J. Cyr

I understand why it has become common jargon for the media — that does sound suspiciously like a certain reality TV star billionaire running for the top seat in our government.

I would have to argue that, to a small degree, most politicians fit this mold. The Donald just seems to do it in more grandiose style than say a groundbreaking female candidate. It’s a subjective concept, however; and I’m sure one could find a way to make it work for her, too.

Sigmund Freud defined narcissism as self-love and a necessary part of the human psyche. When that love becomes the most obvious characteristic that person is said to a narcissist.

In other words, we all have a little narcissism in us. A pinch of it helps keep you driven and moving forward. Those who don’t have that pinch fall into a pit of self-hate and despair.

A few individuals, like those that try to go right from reality TV to the Oval Office, have an overabundance of it. I’m starting to believe that his level of narcissism won’t even allow him to stay in the race given his low chance of winning — Better to drop out and blame the system than risk a landslide loss.

My level of narcissism makes me fine with that, though.

What about my original question:

How does narcissism fit into the world of art?

There is some indication that artist Paul Gauguin may have been in this club and that the personality disorder was showcased in his later work. A man tends to be the focal point of some pieces, often with an unattractive and subservient woman at his side.

“I saw plenty of calm-eyed women. I wanted them to be taken without a word, brutally. In a way longing to rape”
– Paul Gauguin

Artists use it to create engaging work that may or may not be about themselves. Selfies for everyone, I guess.

Now, go out, use your personal narcissism for good and enjoy some art.

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