Wednesday, May 24

"The narcissism of minor differences"


I certainly don't consider myself a Freudian but when I saw this phrase in the latest Harper's it jumped out at me as a perfect description of the left-wing blogosphere, the Democratic party, our country as a whole, etc. etc.

Freud coined the phrase to describe the relations between neighboring countries who are similar, and their tendency to poke fun at, ridicule, and occasionally aggressively attack each other, resulting in, they hope, a greater cohesiveness within their own group. So we lefties attack the Christian right and they attack back, not only because we hate the "other," but to please and solidify our own constituency.

Tell me the difference between

"All Christians are stupid, Republican, Jesus drones."


"All Democrats are arrogant, atheistic, baby-killers."

The name-calling is false on both sides.

Lefty blogospherians (Blue Gal included) are, admittedly, a wildly narcissistic bunch. And we attack each other like crazy, have you noticed? There is so much snarky in-fighting between the Kos-ters, the Firedoglake bunch, the Eschaton chat room commenters, feminists, perverts, gays, mothers, singles, etc. and we've all got to have a say and be right. All the time.

Check this article out. Sound like anyone you know?

...we reserve our most virulent emotions – aggression, hatred, envy – towards those who resemble us the most. We feel threatened not by the Other with whom we have little in common – but by the "nearly-we", who mirror and reflect us.

...To maintain this self-differentiating aggression, the narcissist stokes the fires of hostility by obsessively and vengefully nurturing grudges and hurts (some of them imagined). He dwells on injustice and pain inflicted on him by these stereotypically "bad or unworthy" people. He devalues and dehumanises them and plots revenge to achieve closure. In the process, he indulges in grandiose fantasies, aimed to boost his feelings of omnipotence and magical immunity.

In the process of acquiring an adversary, the narcissist blocks out information that threatens to undermine his emerging self-perception as righteous and offended. He begins to base his whole identity on the brewing conflict which is by now a major preoccupation and a defining or even all-pervasive dimension of his existence.

...Deep inside, the narcissist is continuously subject to a gnawing suspicion that his self-perception as omnipotent, omniscient, and irresistible is flawed, confabulated, and unrealistic....

Similarly, intimacy brings people closer together – it makes them more similar. There are only minor differences between intimate partners. The narcissist perceives this as a threat to his sense of uniqueness.

Who are your partners here in the blogosphere? And whom do you deride? Are they really just like you?

P.S. Frogs and Ravens has an excellent on-topic post.


  1. grumble, grumble, ok, I'll admit it, that sounds like me .. particularly when I'm most sanctimonious...

  2. I try very hard to be tolerant..its a tough row to hoe. To me, its about passion. Passionate people are so intolerant of people that have a different POV.I do enjoy a good discussion however, even when its between myself and another progressive who has a slightly different take on a particular subject.

    But I am older and I will not get drawn into a pissing contest with or conservative..its not worth the effort when they fail to see the little common ground there is between us on which we can agree..and there is usually some minute bit of commonality with which to defuse a situation if it gets a tad hairy. I think I am a negotiator, which I did for a living for many years. I am a realist too,in the fact that No One can win on all points.

  3. I catch myself struggling with this all the time.

    Much of it is that I am competitive, passionate, and driven and when I lose, something inside me dies.

    So I am often not very forgiving, nor understanding of anyone who doesn't put the same amount of passion into their own arguments.

    Lots of people argue just to argue. They want to be right, always. Though I admit that I love debate and I love verbal jousting, I admit that I'm wrong when I am wrong. It pisses me off, of course, but mostly because I get frustrated that my own point of view wasn't as airtight and correct as it should have been.

    If you're not listening to the other person and the other side---and taking what they have to say into account, then you're just wasting time.

  4. i have recently found myself in discussions with a libertarian and a conservative- both of which have insight and povs coming from thought. they think about the issue at hand and think about how their replies- not much knee jerk melodrama but a definite attempt to find middle ground. were it so in all realms- we wouldn't be in this mess. check out 'protect and defend' and 'truth-pain' on my links.


I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. I do moderate comments, but non-spam comments will take less than 24 hours to appear... Thanks!