Aha! It was as we suspected after all. Recent research has confirmed it:
A new British study finds people with narcissistic tendencies are more likely than others to think of themselves as creative, and to engage in creative activities. If your opinion of yourself is unusually high, there’s a good chance you long to share your brilliance with the rest of the world…
There’s no evidence at this point that narcissists are more creative than the rest of us. But there is evidence that they think they are, and that that belief drives them to try their hand at various creative pursuits.
What’s especially interesting is that the study also took on the question of introversion and extroversion I posed. It would seem that my hunch was correct that narcissism is fundamental to a desire for creativity, no matter whether the narcissism expresses itself in shyness and introversion or a loud, outgoing personality.
“Narcissism others” was calculated by measuring their response to statements such as “People always recognize my authority” and “I really like to be the center of attention.” “Narcissism self” was based on their reaction to such self-aggrandizing statements as “I am more capable than other people.”
When the scores were added up, “Narcissism self” was the variable that most strongly predicted not only self-assessed creativity (no surprise there), but also engagement in creative activities. “Narcissism others” was also correlated with both measures of creativity, as were the personality traits of openness and extraversion.
I guess this still doesn’t quite answer the question of whether all authors are narcissists. But it would seem to get us closer.
Photograph by Peter Morrison/AP
4 thoughts on “Author-Narcissism Theory Confirmed!”
Well, like you, I am not surprised. Looking into my own writerly soul, I see a very healthy opinion of myself. But I’m not sure that isn’t as it should be. Not only writers, but also happy people in general, have been shown to think more highly of themselves than a sober look at the facts would warrant. The depressed, on the other hand, generally have a very accurate self-concept. It would seem that rose-colored classes are necessary to having the motivation to do anything these days….
That’s a good point, Sharon. Narcissism seems likely to generate a lot of positive energy, which probably helps a writer to sit in the chair and face the blank page. Something must help people overcome the dread!
I think there is a distinction to make here between healthy self regard and actual narcissism. The narcissist doesn’t just have a high opinion of himself or herself, but a preoccupation with the self. True narcissists don’t care about anyone except how they feed their false image.
Some of the traits we associate with narcissism, including a decent opinion of ourselves, are present in healthy individuals. Some even talk of “healthy narcissism”. But real narcissism is based on a lack of empathy for others; a character trait that is routinely fatal for those who aspire to be writers.