Is Aspergers conflated with narcissism?

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Jayo
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22 Nov 2019, 7:48 am

Do you find, or have you found in your experience, that people portray you as a narcissist as well as ASD/HFA? (Or maybe they deny the ASD label and just call you narcissist?)
It seems that being a narcissist in our Western society is far less stigmatized than being ASD/HFA, which is basically a deemed mental illness.

The prime example I can think of is from the movie "The Social Network" which came out almost a decade ago (wow!) all about the earlier years of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard. He was portrayed as a narcissistic Aspie, who may social blunders with his girlfriend, seemed oblivious to the thoughts and motives of others, was not a sporty extrovert, etc, etc. Yet he always thought he was number one, he was much smarter than the rest, didn't care for small talk, took a laser-like focus to his efforts and goals, which does indeed conflate some Aspie and narc traits.

I remember the final line of the movie, "Mark, you're not an as*hole, but you try so hard to be one". Which kind of insinuates that people with ASD/HFA feel that they have to over-compensate for their lack of NT-ism. Or that they don't take accountability for their social transgressions, and figure they're "above that" or that such gestures are for the little people.

To examine things further, I once stumbled across this hate-o-pedia type site that gave the "definition" of Aspies, or "Ass-pies" as they called it (showing an image of a guy getting a pie in the ass), and said something to the effect of:
"People who can't accept responsibility for their social deficiencies, who blame it on a non-existent condition which is due to bad attitude or bad parenting, people who take a holier-than-thou attitude towards others for behavioural shortcomings when they can't get their own house in order, people who live in their delusional world that they are inherently superior to others when everyone but them sees them as a loser and reject."

Which, again, kind of conflates the definitions of ASD/HFA and narcissism. Sheldon Cooper kind of fits this bill as well as the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Indeed, upon reflection at a certain point in my life, it did occur to me that I was a lot like this when people criticized my lack of "common sense" and I would point out their hypocrisy or scoff at their interpretation of common sense telling them that it's arbitrary and irrational, and was called arrogant a-hole. I suppose part of this is a defence mechanism from those of us who don't find it emotionally palatable to accept our shortcomings compared to the thought processes of the majority, we deflect them and put ourselves on a more noble pedestal as it were.



timf
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22 Nov 2019, 8:24 am

It is not uncommon for Asperger traits to suggest to someone that they are narcissistic. The reason is that Aspergers people generally have a more active or intense internal thought life. This results in an amplified focus on self (and a corresponding decrease in consideration of others).

What is different is that the Aspergers person is more inclined to be self-critical, have a higher sense of what is just and fair, and may even have a higher concern for others (that is not often obvious to others).

It is sometimes difficult for people to differentiate whether they have been snubbed because of the inattention of Aspergers or intentionally because the narcissistic person feels superior.



south_paw
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22 Nov 2019, 11:22 am

One of the Aspie traits I display the most is being a judgmental a_hole...Its not intentional, I have trouble understanding that the universe exists in outside of the way I view it (something about theory of mind i still don't quite grasp). This trait can be the most noticeable to others and the one I really struggle to mask. When I am masking my other Aspie traits its easy for others to see my behavior as narcissistic.



Jayo
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22 Nov 2019, 12:24 pm

Some of the other ways in which ASD/HFA could be misconstrued as narcissism:

1. Getting into arguments with NTs who aren't assertive communicators at the outset of a misunderstanding (mostly females), they say something like "how could you have said / suggested / done such-and-such" and instead of admitting fault, because of weariness of falling into this pit so many times, we might be more inclined to discredit the statement by offering an alternative explanation then theirs for why we did what we did or said, that their interpretation doesn't make sense, thus invalidating their feelings... which is what a narcissist does.

2. Seeking validation on whether our remarks or demeanour was well-received, since we lack the nonverbal / emotional capacity to more accurately gauge this like "normals" - and narcissists are always seeking validation...

3. Being oblivious to how others genuinely see us, basically a form of self-delusion, to protect ourselves emotionally;

4. Minimizing other people's concerns e.g. Joe or Jane Smith complains that one of his/her 55 friends just betrayed him or her in some way, which is kind of akin to the guy who drives a Porsche complaining to Joe Lunchpail on the bus that he just lost $3000 in the stock market... :roll:



Jayo
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22 Nov 2019, 1:47 pm

Oh and I just remembered a 5th one...

5) Sometimes, in responding to someone's question, we tend to not pick up the unspoken nuance (big shocker!) or see the overall context, so we respond with what comes across as an irrelevant answer. Some people might construe this as a "politician's response", in which we're deliberately trying to avoid the question to avoid losing an advantage or losing face or what-have-you. Like, we're being deceitful and want to keep the "little people" ignorant - another trick in the narcissist's toolbag
8O



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22 Nov 2019, 2:46 pm

I'm about as far from a narcissist as anyone can be. I have almost no self-esteem and am actually far more empathetic and considerate of others than the average NT. I just show it in a more quiet, subtle way.


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23 Nov 2019, 9:53 pm

Jayo wrote:
It seems that being a narcissist in our Western society is far less stigmatized than being ASD/HFA, which is basically a deemed mental illness.

Hmm, I don't think it's true that narcissism (or, at least, "malignant narcissism" or "narcissistic personality disorder") is less stigmatized than ASD. These days there are lots and lots of articles all over the web on why people should break off relationships with malignant narcissists and how to do so -- whereas, as far as I can tell, the only similar articles about ASD are to be found on a handful of anti-Aspie hate sites like "Heartless Aspergers."

However, I do think many NTs find the idea of malignant narcissism to be much easier to understand and relate to than the idea of ASD. After all, there is also such a thing as non-pathological narcissism (see distinction here), which is commonplace and even expected in modern Western society. So, most people can easily understand (at least conceptually) malignant narcissism as just an exaggerated version of their own, less extreme narcissistic tendencies.

On the other hand, ASD involves a variety of innate neurological differences, which makes it harder for most people to understand.

So I think ASD is seen as weirder, but somewhat less stigmatized, than malignant narcissism,

Jayo wrote:
To examine things further, I once stumbled across this hate-o-pedia type site that gave the "definition" of Aspies, or "Ass-pies" as they called it (showing an image of a guy getting a pie in the ass), and said something to the effect of:
"People who can't accept responsibility for their social deficiencies, who blame it on a non-existent condition which is due to bad attitude or bad parenting,

As recently as 2005 or so, there were even quite a few psychiatrists and psychotherapists who denied that there was such a thing as "Asperger's syndrome" or "high-functioning autism." At a clinic that my boyfriend went to briefly back then, he was told something like, "yes, we know it's in the DSM, but we don't believe in it." I don't know how many mental health professionals there may still be out there who still retain that attitude. This probably varies by locale, I would guess.


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24 Nov 2019, 8:49 am

Aspergers -- or rather certain areas of social and emotional intelligence, especially concerning regulation and awareness, along with certain differences -- is mainly what causes to mimic 'narcissism'.
This condition and status that locks one off on a myopic and narrow scope of awareness and point of view. It could mean it came from not only developmental delays, but also sensory overload, trauma and inattention.


As far as I found, certain forms of narcissism doesn't need developmental delays or a myopic scope of consciousness and awareness be it from circumstances' trauma or otherwise to be antisocial and self-serving.

A textbook form of narcissist, is someone with more defences to put up than the average which may consist layers of it. Like an onion. :shrug: Mostly due to circumstances, conditioned into certain ideas. Mostly twisted ideas of what relationships are.


And what are the odds an aspie who mainly does his or her majority of waking life is to defend themselves from any hurting? Circumstantial, sensitivity levels, perceptual differences or otherwise?


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babybird
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24 Nov 2019, 8:58 am

There is a difference between being narcissistic and having NPD.

Personally I think most people are narcissistic to a degree but to have narcissistc personality desorder is to inflict cruelty onto other people because of your own inadequacy.


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14 May 2021, 1:34 am

An EX of mine once said I had narcissistic tendency's. I didn't get it at the time, but now I can see how it came off as that. Meaning, I can to find that me and my EX were like oil and water.

I was raised in a more traditional household, my dad had spent time in The Navy and my Grandpa(moms side) was a lawyer. My EX's parents were hold over hippy dippy types. So, I guess my upbringing might have something to do with it. I'm a rip the band aid off kinda guy, if I want it done I want it done. I hate procrastinators and plans getting messed up due to carelessness(which caused an epic meltdown at work, which led to swearing, yelling, and throwing things).

People who can't get there s**t together really annoy me as well as people who Flake out on me, I cut it off with someone because they kept doing that. Ok... I'm going off the rails here but I think my intense focusing and need for perfection, really make people believe I am a narcissist. This is likely why, a lot of my co-workers don't care for me.


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14 May 2021, 8:34 am

For this discussion to be exhaustive, we have to accept the possibility that any given person could have BOTH autism and narcissism. Think of the people in your own sphere as well as celebs, people like Mark Zuckerberg, etc. I have a sister that I think qualifies as both.

One thing I think you'll see in narcissism, but less so in autism, is manipulation. Some of the manipulation schemes of a narcissist are stunningly creative and devious. Most autistic people don't have that degree of interpersonal sophistication.

Self-importance is shared by both diagnoses. An autistic may be justifiably proud of their high IQ or their savant skills, if they have them, and of course narcissists think pretty highly of themselves. But that manipulation thing, successful manipulation, is something I don't see in every autistic, but definitely see in every narcissist.


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14 May 2021, 8:44 am

BeaArthur wrote:
For this discussion to be exhaustive, we have to accept the possibility that any given person could have BOTH autism and narcissism. Think of the people in your own sphere as well as celebs, people like Mark Zuckerberg, etc. I have a sister that I think qualifies as both.

One thing I think you'll see in narcissism, but less so in autism, is manipulation. Some of the manipulation schemes of a narcissist are stunningly creative and devious. Most autistic people don't have that degree of interpersonal sophistication.

Self-importance is shared by both diagnoses. An autistic may be justifiably proud of their high IQ or their savant skills, if they have them, and of course narcissists think pretty highly of themselves. But that manipulation thing, successful manipulation, is something I don't see in every autistic, but definitely see in every narcissist.
It is not only those who engage in self-aggrandizement that exhibit narcissistic traits.  There are also those "perpetual victims" who draw attention and sympathy to themselves by constantly demanding attention for their suffering; rejecting any advice or help that is offered; and openly ruminating on past sorrows wherever and whenever they can.  They also seem to begin every sentence with the first-person pronoun "I".

You know the kind of people I am talking about.


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15 May 2021, 5:25 pm

I hope not. I'd hate to be seen as a Sour Grape.


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15 May 2021, 5:37 pm

Fnord wrote:
BeaArthur wrote:
For this discussion to be exhaustive, we have to accept the possibility that any given person could have BOTH autism and narcissism. Think of the people in your own sphere as well as celebs, people like Mark Zuckerberg, etc. I have a sister that I think qualifies as both.

One thing I think you'll see in narcissism, but less so in autism, is manipulation. Some of the manipulation schemes of a narcissist are stunningly creative and devious. Most autistic people don't have that degree of interpersonal sophistication.

Self-importance is shared by both diagnoses. An autistic may be justifiably proud of their high IQ or their savant skills, if they have them, and of course narcissists think pretty highly of themselves. But that manipulation thing, successful manipulation, is something I don't see in every autistic, but definitely see in every narcissist.
It is not only those who engage in self-aggrandizement that exhibit narcissistic traits.  There are also those "perpetual victims" who draw attention and sympathy to themselves by constantly demanding attention for their suffering; rejecting any advice or help that is offered; and openly ruminating on past sorrows wherever and whenever they can.  They also seem to begin every sentence with the first-person pronoun "I".

You know the kind of people I am talking about.



Aren't those people demonstrating histrionic traits, not narcissistic traits? Specifically the tempestuous histrionic subtype.


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15 May 2021, 6:05 pm

I have some PDA traits. There's definitely some overlap with narcissistic behaviours but the underlying reasons are completely different.

I don't believe narcissism is more socially acceptable (well, unless you're very successful, then different rules apply). In general I'd say it's significantly LESS acceptable, and viewed as more akin to psychopathy. I think there's some sympathy for Auties. Lots of "pitchfork and burning torches" posts on social media about narcissists, though.

I'd be a lot more worried about being called narcissistic than correctly being labelled ASD / ADHD / PDA.

Other conditions can also overlap, for example APD and the 'high' phases of bi-polar.



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15 May 2021, 6:23 pm

This topic is of interest to me because throughout my life people have often accused me of thinking I'm better or smarter than they are. I've never claimed to be smart, or even competent. However, the same people who note that I have terrible self-esteem and tell me that I am, in fact, not stupid, will also say things to me like "well I'm sure you've just forgotten more about it than I'll ever know" I don't understand these two understandings can be applied to the same individual. I am very, very tired of people thinking I am saying I am better than them, or they think I'm annoying to talk to because I "think I know everything" or whatever. I don't know very much. Perhaps I know a bit about a few specific topics. But it's really aggravating because I never see it coming when people more or less accuse me of being an as*hole. This is really difficult to deal with in workplace situations and family situations. So, I figure I would ask here, although I recently made a thread asking this (RE tone of voice.)

Does anyone have any tips or tricks they can use to help with the issue of people thinking one is being a jerk due to the way they talk? Can these problems be mitigated? I try to remind myself to just simply not speak but it's very difficult to do.

Disclaimer, as always, I am not diagnosed, I do not know if I am in fact on the spectrum, but, I seem to have the same challenges as many people here so I am hoping to find some pointers or advice.