- (Raw text of now-defunct bronynarcissism.tumblr.com)
- Are Bronies Narcissists?
- Bronies. They’re on your favourite forum, they’re all over tumblr, and it seems they just won’t shut the fuck up about ponies.
- In my experience, bronies are actually a pretty diverse bunch. Some of just like the show, keep it on the down-low, and don’t get weird about it. Some of them are just into it for the porn (http://rule34.paheal.net/post/list/friendship_is_magic/1). Some were cult fans of Lauren Faust’s Powerpuff Girls back in the day.
- Some of them however, just can’t stop mentioning ponies, bring it up at every opportunity, and are generally obnoxious. They do not abide by social cues, are quite passive-aggressive, and will become incredibly defensive if you criticize bronies. Why do they behave this way?
- Although I am not a psychologist, and my conclusions can be safely disregarded as the ravings of a madman - I think the worst offenders of the brony subculture are in fact suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder).
- The DSM IV description of NPD presents a laundry list of symptoms, but the proposed DSM V revision (http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=19) seems more descriptive:
- A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:
- 1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):
- a. Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.
- b. Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations.
- Here I believe that the first point about Identity is the main MO of typical brony communities online.
- A lot of the worst bronies congregate in clusters online. They form their little fiefdoms and have leaders or respected members who others look up to for guidance and as “spokesmen” of the brony identity. One need not spend a lot of time amongst bronies to see evidence of low self-esteem (or at least periods of it). On the other hand, it’s common to see haughty or arrogant behavior from bronies - one of the most obvious is their use of image macros to respond to any criticism (“deal with it”, “you mad”, “butthurt”) etc. When criticized, these bronies can get very defensive, and often some revealing language is used that shows the brony has an extremely high opinion of himself and/or his community.
- As for emotional regulation - outsiders to brony communities are often struck at how flat and banal conversation is amongst them. From what I have seen, conversation is typically just dull accounts of what each brony is up to, or endless hellos/goodbyes between members.
- Every once in a while however, the community will erupt into drama. Typically this is from some imagined slight, misinterpreted comment, or emotional outburst from one member. The drama plays out in a very public fashion, and yet there seems to be no long-term fallout after the incident dies down. Instead it just simmers under the surface until the next time.
- Next up:
- 2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
- a. Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others.
- b. Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others’ experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain.
- If you’ve seen bronies behave online, you’ll know that while they are receptive to those within their communities, the opinions of anybody else from the wider forum or online venue aren’t worth spit. Sometimes, such as the brony regulars on 4chan’s /b/ forum, there is open contempt for the moderators and other forum-goers. Any suggestion that the users carry on their discussion in a more suitable venue will be met with instantaneous disdain and disrespectfulness.
- As for point b, I mentioned earlier about the banal nature of conversation in the brony community. There is very little depth of discussion, and sometimes it seems like conversation is kept going “just for show” - just so users can be recognized as being participants in the culture. I have seen brony members sometimes have an emotional outburst claiming that others in the culture do not care about them. Their suspicions are most certainly correct, but this is a taboo topic in brony circles since everybody is engaged in the same behavior - mutual backscratching with no genuine concern for the welfare of others in the community.
- Next up, the second major point in the proposed DSM V NPD definition:
- B. Pathological personality traits in the following domain:
- 1. Antagonism, characterized by:
- a. Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others.
- b. Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.
- These are the most frequent complaints about brony culture, by outsiders. Anyone who has ever criticized bronies or expressed annoyance with their behavior is belittled and marginalized. Outsider opinions are minimized and the view that bronies should not have to explain their behavior to others is common.
- On 4chan’s /b/ board, in which a small number of brony holdouts have been posting continuously for a period of more than 2 years, there is a very dim view of the other residents of /b/ (and the moderators, too). Any criticism levelled at bronies will often be met with a retort that /b/’s denizens are just as bad, if not worse than the bronies. Other excuses used to justify their behavior is denial that a plurality of /b/ does not want them there (despite near-universally voiced negative opinions of them), or that members who dislike bronies are all under the age of 18 and whose opinions should therefore be disregarded.
- And of course, the second point - attention seeking. Many people are familiar with bronies simply by virtue of their constant attention seeking. It seems as if the pathological brony set cannot talk about anything other than their chosen hobby - choosing a pony avatar, a pony name, using pony image macros, using pony quotes and memes.
- Besides this, a major fixture of brony culture is to keep a chat or discussion thread going constantly, keeping it bumped to the top of a thread list, regardless of the usefulness of said discussion. (MMO Champion’s pony threads have prodigal reply counts) (http://www.mmo-champion.com/forums/316-Fun-Stuff?sort=replycount&order=desc) I have heard this behavior being justified as required to gain new members for the fandom - however the simpler explanation is that users engaged in this activity just want attention.
- Hopefully I have explained to at least a superficial degree why I believe much of the worst behavior of bronies is due to narcsisstic personality disorder. I believe the public’s perception of what NPD is, is very incorrect. It is not pure arrogance or a very high opinion of one’s self. It actually seems to be more of a coping mechanism for very unstable self-esteem. Apparently it shares many features with borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.
- In closing I’ll post a few links about NPD which might be interesting further reading:
- Wikipedia’s NPD page (again) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder) - DSM IV’s definition.
- Sam Vaknin’s “Malignant Self-Love” page (http://samvak.tripod.com/narcissismself.html) - Accounts from a self-confessed narcissist. These are excerpts from a book he is hocking, and it may be entirely self-serving, but I found the excerpts illuminating:
- (On defying authority)
- “I make it a point to triumphantly ignore and belittle figures of authority. Knowing that their options of retaliation are rather limited by my official position, or by law - I abuse them flagrantly. When a security guard or a policeman halts me, I pretend I haven’t heard him and proceed with callous disregard. When threatened, I go unpredictably wild. In doing so I (very often) provoke repulsion and pity and (much less often) fear and amazement. Often I find myself in danger, always punished, forever the losing party.
- So, why do it?
- First, because it feels great. To experience immunity, shielded behind an invisible wall, untouchable, and, therefore, by implication, omnipotent.
- Second, because I actively and knowingly seek to be punished, perceived as the “bad man”, the corrupt, no good, vile, heartless, villain.
- Third, I project my own shortcomings, deficiencies, pain, and rage onto these mother and father substitutes. I then react to these behaviours and negative emotions I perceive in others with righteous and furious indignation.”
- Article by Melanie Tonia Evans - opinion piece (http://www.melanietoniaevans.com/articles/narcissism-understood.htm)
a guest Feb 13th, 2013 911 Never
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