Dealing with the narcissist in your life

Love is great, but it’s actually empathy that makes the world go ‘round. According to The Atlantic, “Understanding other peoples’ viewpoints is so essential to human functioning that psychologists sometimes refer to empathy as “social glue, binding people together and creating harmonious relationships.”

“Narcissists tend to lack this ability. Think of the charismatic co-worker who refuses to cover for a colleague who’s been in a car accident. Or the affable friend who nonetheless seems to delight in back-stabbing.

“These types of individuals are what’s known as “sub-clinical” narcissists—the everyday egoists who, though they may not merit psychiatric attention, don’t make very good friends or lovers.images

“If people are in a romantic relationship with a narcissist, they tend to cheat on their partners and their relationships break up sooner and end quite messily,” Erica Hepper, a psychologist at the University of Surrey in the U.K., told me. “They tend to be more deviant academically. They take credit for other peoples’ work.”

“Psychologists have long thought that narcissists were largely incorrigible—that there was nothing we could do to help them be more empathetic. But for a new study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Hepper discovered a way to measurably help narcissists feel the pain of others.

“First, she gathered up 282 online volunteers who hailed from various countries but were mostly young and female. They took a 41-question personality quiz designed to assess their levels of subclinical narcissism, checking boxes next to statements like “I like to have authority over other people” or “I will be a success.” They then read a story about a person named Chris who had just gone through a breakup, and then took another quiz to determine how bad they felt for Chris. The more narcissistic among them were indeed less likely to feel empathy for the fictional jilted man. Continue reading “Dealing with the narcissist in your life”

Angel Haze: “Same Love”

The Angel Haze version of “Same Love” is getting quite a bit of attention since its release yesterday. images-2

Some are calling Haze the “most important rapper of 2013,” in reclaiming the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis song (notably featuring a defining refrain by Mary Lambert).  As Flavorwire puts it:

“There’s been something quietly remarkable happening on Soundcloud over the last couple of weeks. In the lead-up to the release of her debut album Dirty Gold, Angel Haze has been releasing a freestyle a day, setting her coruscating raps over a series of beats borrowed from notable contemporaries: Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” Jay-Z’s “Tom Ford,” and Drake’s “Worst Behavior,” among others. Pretty much all of the tracks she’s released so far have been worth hearing, but yesterday, she delivered the best yet: a deeply personal reinterpretation of Macklemore’s “Same Love” that discusses her own history and sexuality.

“Angel Haze’s version of “Same Love” is the most powerful and moving rap released since… well, since she last discussed her personal history, on a harrowing reworking of Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” last year. This new track also discusses her childhood, and specifically her mother’s reaction to her sexuality (“At age 13 my mother knew I wasn’t straight/ She didn’t understand but she had so much to say/ She sat me on the couch looked me straight in my face/ And said you’ll burn in hell or probably die of AIDS”), before moving to a more general examination of homophobia and prejudice.

“It’s both honest and genuinely moving, even for an artist whose music has an entirely deserved reputation for being both of these things. It’s filled with concise lyrical insight (“You’re driven by your choice is an optical illusion/ Here’s to understanding that it’s not always confusion”), fueled by both rage (“Fuck your religion/ Fuck constitutions/ Fuck superstitions/ There are no lakes of fire, we’re here on earth”) and compassion (“I stand/ For the boy who died by his hand/ To the sound of his father screaming, ‘Woman loves man’”). On the whole, it comes across as a very, very real version of what plastic anthems like “Born This Way” or the original “Same Love” wish they might have been.

“And, remarkably, it finishes by borrowing some lines from Andrea Gibson’s poem “Andrew,” lines that discuss the fluidity of sexuality and the generally pointless nature of arbitrary labels: “No, I am not gay/ No, I am not straight/ And I’m sure as hell not bisexual, damn it/ I am whoever I am when I am it/ Loving whoever you are when the stars shine/ And being whoever you be when the sun rises.”


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A valentine from the cat

For most of the 20th century, animals weren’t allowed to have emotions.imgres-4 Your dog didn’t actually love you—it (and it was an “it” back then) was just a stimulus–response machine conditioned to act a specific way in a specific situation, says today’s Valentine edition of Wired Science.  “Scientists who said otherwise—that animals actually had minds capable of thoughts and emotions—were accused of ‘anthropomorphizing’ and ridiculed by their peers. Even researchers as famous as chimp specialist Jane Goodall spent years sitting on evidence that animals could do more than just salivate at the sound of a bell.

‘But over time, that bias waned. Just consider the first sentence (and the title) of Virginia Morell’s new book, Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures: ‘Animals have minds.’ Continue reading “A valentine from the cat”