The TMI Syndrome
Too Much Information About ME!
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Is modern technology making us more involved with ourselves? Certainly starting decades ago, the media and advertising have increased the “ME generation.” “Have it your way,” the fast food commercial said and that’s become the entitlement thinking of a segment of our population.
Indeed our society is at a place where some people, mostly young, feel the need to relate minute details of their lives via Twitter or texting: “I’m eating a Twinkie right now. I’m standing in line at the mall, etc.” Most of us think, but politely refrain from saying, “Who cares?”
A recent research study showed that the more Facebook pictures of self, the more pages and the more posts of details about themselves indicates more narcissism as in “It’s about me and I can post it to the world!” There is a vast error in thinking in those who think that others care about the mundane details of their lives. They are caught in the TMI Syndrome-Too Much Information About ME!
When someone you care about goes who rarely gets angry on a tirade at you, take this as an opportunity to learn something about yourself, them and the relationship that the two of you have created. There can be vital information for you underneath another person’s anger if you have the courage to look for it. There can be a kernel of truth in outbursts of anger.
Preoccupation with any addictive or compulsive behavior can render a person more selfish as they need more and more of the pleasurable activity to gain the same level of fix. So gamblers and video game addicts become less interested in the needs of others and can become more involved in getting their own needs met. Addictive habits when done repeatedly can bring the user little or no pleasure can exploit the reward pathways of the brain according to David Linden, author of Compass of Pleasure which explains the role of the dopamine system in addictive activities.
Having these self-absorbed traits is a normal stage of development in two year old and then later in the teen years. Fortunately most people naturally outgrow the need to be the center of attention. Trauma in families and horrific events that happen with wars can cause more narcissistic behaviors.
Although men have been shown to be more narcissistic than women, they usually are not as verbally expressive but are more demanding in getting their own way and making most of the decisions for the family. Narcissistic women have more emotional need for drama and power. The Desperate Housewives and other reality television shows are dripping with narcissism. People who anxiously describe every detail of their lives have the erroneous belief that others are interested because their life is seen as being sooooo special. Monologue talking and refusing to hear other people’s boundaries because of the need to anxiously discharge verbal energy is overwhelming to the listener. These people are blind to their own faults and the more severely disturbed know what they are doing and are proud of it.
But they will probably end up alone and lonely in the end. My son made a brilliant observation when he worked in a nursing home during his high school days. He noted that selfish old people didn’t get visitors and ended up alone unless they had money! People who are demanding or those who fight with others can end up alone and bitter always believing that others are at fault. The denial defenses of knowing one’s own part of a problem in self-involved people are powerful.
Self-involvement has a cost and that cost is in finding contentment and peace of mind. As Agnes Repplier said, “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.”
No growth in a life-no insight. No true, loving friends-no connections. No insight-no happiness.
For those individuals with milder traits who want to change, narcissism can be studied and reduced. For those who are motivated, insight regarding harming others can be interrupted though careful observation and deliberation. Errors in thinking and behaviors that make up this defect can be addressed. Undesirable behaviors can be worked through once they are admitted. Narcissistic defense mechanisms can be brought to the light of day and challenged one by one.
Don’t think that you can make the changes by yourself; part of the pattern is delusion and denial! Narcissistic thinking is a tough nut to crack so don’t go it alone. Psychotherapy with a therapist trained in the disorder helps discover the dynamics in childhood that led to the errors in thinking and callous behavior along with dynamic tools to interrupt undesired behavior. Old childhood traumas can be worked through with the newer body-mind therapy techniques such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Somatic Re-experiencing, The Emotional Freedom Technique and other tapping procedures.
I’ve put a chapter in my book, Your Quick Anger Makeover on ideas to release narcissistic thinking and behavior. We’ve all got some of the self-absorbed pattern and the best thing is to address it! Come on, accept that if you lived with a narcissistic parent, you probably absorbed some of it, but the thing to do is to challenge it.
To bravely observe and confront one’s narcissistic traits whether small or large again and again are acts of courage that will bring great satisfaction. Perhaps examining our own narcissistic traits is to go boldly where man often dares not to tread-that last frontier of the ego.