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Marc Maron, compensatory narcissist

As I was painting this morning, listening to my usual rotation of podcasts, Marc Maron provided a funny portrait of himself drawn from a clinical description of a particular psychological disorder called Compensatory Narcissistic Personality. The character traits that define this comedian’s condition also struck me as markers for a certain artistic type:

  • Seeks to build an image of high self-worth. (Fair enough.)
  • Has trouble with empathy. (Maron: “I’m not going to check that one. I drove someone else’s cat to the hospital.” Agree. It depends on the artist.)
  • Strives for recognition. (Well, if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears . . .)
  • The achievements of others are degraded. (Everyone’s a critic . . .)
  • Has desire for glory. (I would settle for positive cash flow.)
  • Listens for critical judgment. Feels slighted by disapproval. (If you prick us, do we not bleed?)
  • Feels vulnerable to the judgment of others. (Do you have to be so picky?)
  • Covers up insecurities with feelings of pseudo-grandiosity. (Maron: “I think my arrogance is genuine.”)
  • Has alternate periods of deadness and excitement. (Maron: “Oh that’s me.”)
  • Has history of searching for an idealized partner. (Maron: “Oh boy.”)
  • Frequently entertains exaggerated concept of himself which he can’t measure up to. (Maron: “Uh oh.”)
  • Is touchy, quick to take offense and reacts with fantasies of revenge when frustrated in the hunger for constant admiration. (Maron: “Oh god.”)
  • Dependent on others for approval. (Maron: “Bing, bing, bing. This all sounds like a description for my show.”)

I guess I wouldn’t check every single one of these, by any means, and there are plenty of positive characteristics in the personality of the average painter, but some of these traits do cut a bit close. I see this as a list to revisit on a regular basis, (maybe every couple of hours, nothing obsessive or anything), as a way of checking oneself before wrecking oneself. I agree with Maron, if I have delusions of grandiosity, it’s genuine grandeur I’m dreaming about, not the fake kind. I’m not sure grandeur is a word I’d apply to the work I do, though. And not that there’s anything wrong with a few delusions, at least between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when you need them the most. Something has to keep you going after the morning coffee has worn off.

 

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