By Dr. Jane Greer, Marriage & Family Therapist, Author, Radio Host & Shrink Wrap Celebrity Commentator
People are still transfixed by Charlie Sheen. Some clinical speculation about his behavior has suggested the ravages of drug addiction or an untreated bipolar episode. While all of this may be true, to me, it looks like unbridled narcissism in full fury.
The go-to definition of narcissism is thinking only of oneself. However, when you use the word narcissist you are really making a much bigger statement. A narcissist is not only selfish but actually lacks the ability to think of anyone else. Most narcissists are masters at turning things around so they’re the ones being wronged, and they make it appear that they are doing you a favor by letting you make it up to them. They are typically self-righteous and have an exaggerated sense of entitlement that leads them to believe they deserve everything and more. When they don’t get what they want, they get angry and their rage knows no bounds.
You could be dating a narcissist and not even realize it. In fact, at the beginning of a relationship, it can be easy to miss the signs. If you’re not sure, take a minute and consider these questions. Are most of the conversations you have centered around your partner? Are you always the one being flexible, making changes to your schedule or agreeing to new plans? If you’re out to eat, does your date help themselves to your food without asking, not seeming to think twice about it and never offering you a taste of theirs? When you visit them, do they get up and greet you at the door or expect you to just walk in and join them in whatever they’re doing? While each of these things might seem insignificant alone, together they are the signature behaviors of a narcissist.
The epitome of this is a specific personality type that in my book, What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship, I call an ultimate controller. Their slogan is “it’s all about me.” They talk about how great they are, how successful they are, how they know more than anyone and how they’re better than everyone else. Charlie certainly brings this to life. We see this in his public tirades on Twitter and his webcast “Sheen’s Korner,” along with his declaration of “winning.” Ultimate controllers have little if any empathy for their significant others and they are unable to accommodate the needs of those around them. To try to get them to is likely to lead to frustration, disappointment and unhappiness. This is what each of Charlie’s wives realized, and why they ultimately got out of their marriages. For ultimate controller’s, when their needs aren’t met they are quick to get mad and attempt to control others with their anger in an effort to intimidate so they get their way. All of this comes through loud and clear with Charlie’s reported death threats, along with his talk about trolls, fastballs and tiger blood. If you pay attention to some of the indicators you will hopefully avoid getting in so deep.
Unfortunately, because Charlie is such a money-generating celebrity he’s been able to make his narcissism work for him and his out of control antics actually perpetuate his image as “the quintessential bad boy.” The irony is that despite all that Charlie has lost, the one thing he is indeed the ‘winner’ at is being the best narcissist around.