Author-Narcissism Theory Confirmed!

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.

Yet another secret raging narcissist…

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

Are Authors All Narcissists?

Where does the desire to write fiction come from? Eagerness to tell stories? Desire to connect with people? Fame and fortune? Defeat death?

Does it all boil down to unfettered narcissism? I don’t mean their fiction tends toward navel-gazing – it may or may not. I’m asking whether at the heart of all impulses to write fiction is deep, unabiding, overwhelming self-love.

But wait, you say – what about those quiet, respectable authors? What about the saints and the shy? Kafka was a quiet man who worked all day for an insurance company. Eudora Welty lived with her ailing mother.

Eudora Welty, secret narcissist?
Photograph Credit: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images
Is this the face of a raging narcissist?

That might be the wrong way to look at it. As Scott Barry Kaufman observes:

But the latest research suggests that there is also a large selfish segment of the population who say they are introverted and sensitive when they really just can’t stand it that everyone doesn’t recognize their brilliance.

Hmmm. Kaufman has developed a quiz to help you see where you are on the Maladaptive Covert Narcissism Scale.

I haven’t taken the quiz. I’ve told myself that it’s because I’m not that interested in myself – because who am I, really? Just an average schmuck. Whether I’m a narcisssist or not, or introverted or not, is not really important, to me or (especially) anyone else.

Or is it that I secretly think I’m too good for the quiz…?