Narcissism, Revisited

From “Dennis and Dr. Stephen Marmer, member of the clinical faculty of the UCLA medical school and practicing psychiatrist in Brentwood, CA revisit a key issue to your happiness – narcissism.”

Stephen Marmer: “Narcissism in common terms is grandiosity — thinking that you are the greatest ever. Narcissism is seeing things only from your perspective. Anyone else’s perspective is either wrong or irrelevant. Only your perspective counts. Only your thoughts are correct. Only your emotions are justified. Only your hurts are legitimate hurts. Only your innocent actions should be interpreted as innocent by everybody else, even if it hurts them. Everything in your life is for you. Self-referential. Your world beginning and end.”

Dennis: “The moment you can say, maybe they’re right, you’re undoing narcissism.”

Stephen: “Yes! I can see your point of view. Or, I understand how that felt for you. Or, your claim right now has more merit than mine. All those are signs that the narcissism is changing. Nowhere is this more clear than in the difference between narcissistic love and real love.”

“Most narcissistic people don’t bother to see things from an outsider perspective. If you only see things from your point of view, you won’t get to the point where you notice. Mostly people learn that they are narcissistic when people they care about tell them they are narcissistic.”

“A narcissistic person can’t be happy unless they’re constantly fed by other people meeting their needs. They don’t get a lot of satisfaction meeting someone else’s needs. They can’t stand being alone. They get no lasting fulfillment. It’s like eating junk food.

“Someone who is not narcissistic gets great happiness from things they do for others. Generosity. Kindness. Watching someone else’s back. That you can do all the time. You don’t depend upon others. You depend on yourself to do those things. If you are not narcissistic, this is a great happiness generator.”

“A narcissist can have pleasure but not fulfillment and happiness.”

“Sometimes they can keep friends because they can be clever making their friend feel like the most valuable person in the world. When you are with a narcissist, you have their undivided attention, but not because they want you, they want you to accommodate them. Like a wolf loves a sheep and wants to make the sheep feel good so they can eat it.”

I was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder in 2000.

Greg Leake emails: Hi Luke,
Look, if you’re running in the fast lane in LaLa Land, you’d better be a narcissist.

Luke, you may be a narcissist, or Beezlebub, or the sorcerer’s apprentice, but there may be some mitigating factors.

In show biz in LaLa Land, everyone is trying to do self-promotion 24 hours a day. Capturing attention is the coinage of upward mobility. Whether you’re Brittney shaving her head and intentionally not wearing underwear in public, or Paris drunk and disorderly at the clubs, or Lindsey Lohan crashing your car into someone, you’re in the never ending pursuit of publicity.

Used to know a girl that hung out in the Viper Room back in the old days. All the young actors and actresses hoping that they would be discovered. In LaLa Land people try to hit the street where they can be offended by a TMZ cameraman. Attention, attention, attention.

All these people willing to sell their souls in order to appear on a reality show. And if by some miraculous happenstance someone manages to climb halfway up the mountain, there is the constant and never ending attempt to grab attention away from competitors who might be a fit for the series you want.

Luke, my boy, you were running with this crowd being a reporter on the porn industry. And had you been less aggressive in your techniques and procedures you would have never carved out the place for yourself that you had during those days. You might have been a bit unethical sometimes, but look who you were dealing with. I don’t imagine that reporters always worry about higher ethics when they try to get stories on the mafia.

And lest people forget, your public posture was always one of disapproval for the porn industry. I invite your readers to check out your appearances and interviews. I never once recall you being in favor of the porn industry.

This apparently got you in trouble with some fairly nasty characters. I remember, years ago, seeing your pictures with the gun. (It looked to me to be a .38 or .357… possibly a Python… hard to recall.) Well, you were being attacked as I understand it, physically, by some associates in the porn industry, because of your disapproval. Honestly, Luke, and down here in Texas everyone has guns. And it is understood that if someone attacks you and you have to threaten them or shoot them, this is simply part of the natural proclivities involved in self-protection. Sure, the pictures were screwy, but I understood you were trying to send a message. A warning that you were armed and crazy enough to use it. Who knows? You may have prevented having to shoot someone by letting them know that you were prepared to defend yourself.

So my view is that if you are a narcissist, then everyone in show business, legitimate or porn, is a narcissist in LaLa Land. You don’t achieve success in devolutionary LA without being a shameless self-promoter.

As for your biography of Dennis Prager, I love Dennis and I know you do too. And it was a bad thing to reveal his personal life after he befriended you.

However, you didn’t reveal anything bad or scandalous about him. You may have caused people to see him in a somewhat more human light, perhaps with his own innocuous set of foibles, but there was nothing in your writing to change his image as an absolutely upright, moral, wise and wonderful person. Frankly, had you really known something deleterious about him, you very well might have excluded it. So I’m going to have to give you passing marks on that one. It was not a good thing you did, but it was not a Kitty Kelly. There were no snakes to bring out of the woodwork.

A lot of people are really screwed up in various ways when they are young. Sometimes as they grow older they mellow out and their youthful problems diminish along the way. Now you have yourself strapped in to the demands of Orthodox Judaism, and you really have bound yourself from most possibilities of misdeeds. A lot of your critics were ex-girlfriends, deeply religious family members, and their perception of you might be somewhat different than the healthy care professionals’ who looked into your problems.

And you know, you really have the ability to answer all these questions yourself. Do you really care about other people in a heartfelt way, at least the ones you’re close to, or not?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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