Shakespeare Would Have Had A Field Day With Our Narcissism

Jim Shea
Contact ReporterThe Hartford Courant

If Shakespeare were alive today and banging out plays on his laptop he would probably have had a different view of mankind.

"All the world's a stage," he might have written, "And all the men and women merely leading actors and actresses in a hit new dramatic series called their lives."

Narcissism reigns.

As Muhammad Ali once put it, "Whee, it's me."

What got me to thinking about narcissism was a story that linked "bad narcissism" to heart disease in men. (Hold on, there's a good narcissism?)


According to the study, men with a narcissistic personality may have elevated levels of cortisol, the body's primary stress hormone. High levels of cortisol can lead to cardiovascular problems and even memory impairment.

While narcissism can lead to elevated cortisol levels in men, researchers said it was much less predictive in women. This pretty much frees up women to be as "me'' as they wanna be.

There are, of course, no greater narcissists than celebrities. This is why there are so many awards shows on television. They give celebrities the opportunity to get out and feel the love … they so richly deserve.

Narcissus, after which the word narcissist is derived, was a figure in Greek mythology who fell in love with his reflected image in a pool of water. He died next to the pool, unable to leave the beauty of his own reflection.

Washington, D.C., is another venue to which narcissists flock. In fact, politics has been defined as show business for unattractive people.

In Washington, it can be difficult to tell the narcissists from the megalomaniacs.

British writer Bertrand Russell explained the difference this way:

"The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history."

The Super Bowl is like, well, the Super Bowl of stages for the narcissist athlete. You know, the ones who routinely step away from their teammates after a play to pound their chest and seek individual acclamation from the crowd.

Yeah, to the narcissist, the rest of us are just bench warmers.

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