Mistaking Aspergers for narcissism



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pezar
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06 Feb 2009, 12:12 pm

It seems to happen frequently that NTs will mistake Aspergers/HF Autism for severe narcissism. Autism is called "autism" because the first doctor to notice the disorder believed it was a "withdrawal into the self" and named it after the Greek word autos, meaning "self". This has always baffled me because in some ways aspies are the exact opposite of narcissists. The narcissist typically has a vastly overinflated opinion of himself, while the aspie typically suffers from self-loathing, even self-hatred. An aspie will usually include subtle put downs of himself in everyday conversation, and some even refuse to identify themselves as "I", while a narcissist's talk is all about himself. Yet aspies are typically accused of being selfish to an extreme because they don't engage in what is considered normal socializing behavior. I'm sure that all of us have been called arrogant and selfish by a number of people. In that recent troll post, the author claimed that aspies have such severe narcissism that they're not human, obviously a dangerous stance, but one that seems to be shared by many NTs.



Sora
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06 Feb 2009, 1:14 pm

pezar wrote:
The narcissist typically has a vastly overinflated opinion of himself, while the aspie typically suffers from self-loathing, even self-hatred.


But hating yourself isn't caused by your autism. So I can't agree that it's typical for autistic people. It's typical for some people maybe. Being continuously rejected due to being different can cause a low opinion of yourself but autism isn't the only possible reason to experience such situations often.

There are quite a number of very happy and confident autistic people. Just as well as autistic people who consider themselves very important.

pezar wrote:
An aspie will usually include subtle put downs of himself in everyday conversation, and some even refuse to identify themselves as "I",


The identification as 'I' if not done due to autism has nothing to do with self-hatred or missing confidence.

If one says they do not identify as 'I' because they feel bad about themselves, they have a problem besides having autism.

pezar wrote:
while a narcissist's talk is all about himself.


As do many extroverted autistic people. It's all about them or their interest. That can be real annoying.


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presentjoy
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06 Feb 2009, 1:17 pm

yes; withdrawal into the self is different than narcissism. i think self-centredness is different from narcissism too.

From Sam Vaknin, self-proclaimed narcissist:

Quote:
Narcissists are said to be in love with themselves.
But this is a fallacy. Narcissus is not in love with himself. He is in love with his reflection.
- Sam Vaknin from http://samvak.tripod.com/msla.html


So narcissists are obsessed with what they are projecting into the world, how they appear. But he says they are deeply unable to love. so they try to create a lovable self-image. they will overinflate, because what lies underneath is intense insecurity.

I don't know how much Vaknin can be generalized, he seems to speak much from his own experience. However, his writing is frank about what is going on in a (his) narcissistic mind.

reading more deeply into his writing, it seems that there can be (mistaken) parallels between the autie's inability to connect to people and the narcissist's. between the inner focus that comes with being overwhelmed by internal and external stimuli, and obsessing over the states required to project a favourable self-image. however even a less than intensive read reveals obvious differences, like the withdrawal of an autist versus the people seeking neediness of the narcissist.

not that there are hard fast rules and distinctions one can draw. personality disorders have been/are being pinned on autistic people all the time - borderline, schizotypal, histrionic.. meh. there is real confusion out there and ignorance, in my opinion, about the ways in which autistic behaviour is adaptive even as it appears from the outside as maladaptive.

it is one of the standard understandings of social workers and others i have worked with, and it seems, an important part of understanding where a person is coming from: behaviours are usually adaptive in some way.

but when behaviours are decontextualized, found to have "no reason for it" the person is then forced to either suppress their reactions and tolerate an experience with a great deal of stress or find other (even more maladaptive?) ways of dealing with it. or perhaps find a more adaptive way, but i think often the root of the adaptation isn't addressed at all. perhaps because it's non-intuitive to other people, which makes the behaviour seem to come from nowhere. except perhaps they are obstinate.. oh! personality disorder! BS.

im not aware, generally, of my 'image'. i literally avoid my image in the mirror, and can get caught in it, but i'm clueless in some sense of how i come across in person. a bit easier on the internet. but im no narcissist.


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Mysty
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06 Feb 2009, 1:23 pm

Narcissists actually tend to not like themselves deep down, actually. They need others to love them, put them on a pedestal, etc, as a boost to their self esteem. Without that influx from others, they don't feel good about themselves.



sbcmetroguy
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06 Feb 2009, 2:12 pm

I actually know someone who is a bad narcissist. I know him well enough to know he's not AS or anything like that, he's just narcissistic. And being the generally nice guy that I am, we clash constantly. If he were on the spectrum, I believe I would be able to tolerate him because I would know there was a real reason for him to be that way.



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06 Feb 2009, 2:29 pm

I have met John Hinckley, he's the only narcissist I have met. I met him, he didn't acknowledge my presence. He the guy that shot Reagan. He's over at ST. Elizabeth mental hospital because he a crazy narcissist


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mixtapebooty
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06 Feb 2009, 4:05 pm

presentjoy wrote:
yes; withdrawal into the self is different than narcissism. i think self-centredness is different from narcissism too.

From Sam Vaknin, self-proclaimed narcissist:

Quote:
Narcissists are said to be in love with themselves.
But this is a fallacy. Narcissus is not in love with himself. He is in love with his reflection.
- Sam Vaknin from http://samvak.tripod.com/msla.html


...
not that there are hard fast rules and distinctions one can draw. personality disorders have been/are being pinned on autistic people all the time - borderline, schizotypal, histrionic.. meh. there is real confusion out there and ignorance, in my opinion, about the ways in which autistic behaviour is adaptive even as it appears from the outside as maladaptive.
...
it is one of the standard understandings of social workers and others i have worked with, and it seems, an important part of understanding where a person is coming from: behaviours are usually adaptive in some way.



Narcissism, Anti Social Personality Disorder, Bi Polar Disorder; bad guesses people have made about me. The general ignorance of who can have AS is still staggering my mind. Slipping through the cracks is not fun.



millie
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06 Feb 2009, 4:12 pm

i am one of my own special interests..... that is how it is, fortunately or unfortunately.

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Mysty
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06 Feb 2009, 5:48 pm

MR wrote:
Narcissists actually tend to not like themselves deep down, actually. They need others to love them, put them on a pedestal, etc, as a boost to their self esteem. Without that influx from others, they don't feel good about themselves.


I've something to add to the above. Narcissists see themselves at the top of the social hierachy. Or at least above most folks. They get their good feelings about themselves from that position of being better than others.

I can't imagine and autistic person or aspie being a true narcissist. I've seen people here express the idea that aspies are better than NTs in a way that seems like it could also be a getting self esteem from seeing oneself as being better than others. Still, it's something different than narcissism. Narcissism is more individual, and is dependent on feedback from others reinforcing the person's high status.



mcm15501
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21 Feb 2009, 9:06 am

I've been confused for a narcissist several times in life, even from within my family. A year ago I dated a woman who quickly came to the conclusion that I was narcissistic - yet she had very mixed feelings about me, which is why she didn't dismiss me right away. It was when I told her of my realization of having AS that she said goodbye.



equinn
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21 Feb 2009, 9:37 am

A narcissist require feedback and praise from others, acknowledgment of their greatness.

A child/adult with aspergers simply needs a sounding board, someone who has ears to listen as he/she describes the interest.

A person with Aspergers does not require praise or feedback and would rather not have the personal attention from others. Passion and any semblance of a reward comes internally from the special interest, not the praise from others. The Aspie then is intrinsically motivated. The narcissist is externally motivated.

Major distinction: Image-driven vs Interest-driven

I've met aspies who are engossed in their project, or interest and they don't care about what they will gain from it, OR certainly not how they appear to others. This is the paradox. A person with Aspergers with exceptional talents in math or science, ends up working in a grocerty store for a living taking stock and pricing.

But, I'll bet you find plenty of narcissists pacing the floors of wall street. I know of one in particular, my cousin. He is absolutely a true narcissist.

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sunshower
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21 Feb 2009, 10:04 am

Wow, now I'm a narcissist and OCPD. Today just keeps getting better and better.


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lovecholie
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21 Feb 2009, 10:28 am

Yeah, some of my friends are narcissists. They need people around to soothe their egos, or something. They are usually looking for a specific kind of attention from the opposite sex, imo. They can't stand it when they're alone. I actually feel bad for them.

When I talk to others about myself, I am constantly self-deprecating- rarely self-congratulatory. I don't like talking about myself and always regret it. I'd rather talk about words or expressions or shared pet peeves.



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21 Feb 2009, 12:50 pm

There is narcissism and arrogance.
Certain autistic people can be quite arrogant, but I think a bit more than narcissistic.



SpazzDog
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21 Feb 2009, 1:31 pm

My brother made it a habit to call me a self serving brat. I never do anything to try and be selfish, but when I don't act the way he expects me to then I'm being selfish. He's a supercommunicator and socializer extraordinaire, so when I don't meet his expectations I'm being self serving. Looking back in hind sight I can sometimes see how he gets that impression. But each time it's because he's held these expectations of me which I would never fulfill to begin with.


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