I thought we all deserved levity today–Friday is fun, remember?–so a dog post it is. I trust you love to hear about Jelly’s antics as much as I like to tell them. If you don’t, skip this post. For those still reading, I’m telling you this story to cheer myself up. Thanks for indulging me.
I’ve recently determined that Jelly, our four-legged furry daughter, is narcissistic. Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of their own value and importance and a need for others’ constant admiration. They can become angry or hurt if they do not garner sufficient adulation from others.
Jelly’s narcissism is most evident on our walks. Because she is a lover, not a fighter, Jelly gets very excited if anyone is approaching her on the sidewalk. The person may be a mile off but as soon as Jelly spies movement, she readies for a greeting, i.e., she wags and pulls.
Because Jelly is narcissistic, she never considers that the person approaching might not be interested in meeting her. Each time I must explain this sad reality to her, knowing she will be wounded and feel dejected. She is especially distressed when we reach the dog-averse person, who moves off the sidewalk or looks away as he passes us, rather than stopping to pet Jelly and tell her how beautiful she is.
I worry Jelly’s narcissism may be worsening of late. When a car slows to park beside us while we are walking, Jelly believes the driver is stopping to see her and goes into full greeting mode. She is terribly disappointed if the person who gets out does not acknowledge her.
On our walk the other day, Jelly took her grandiosity to new heights. As we were walking, a car slowed as it approached a stop sign. As the car decelerated, Jelly started pulling and wagging. Of course the driver was stopping to greet her! She was especially dismayed when the car drove off.
I understand why she is hurt in these situations: she always is when she is not garnering anyone’s full attention. Any narcissist’s outward confidence masks a fragile sense of self worth. Thus, a perceived slight becomes hugely distressing. (I know this because I am a psychologist, not because I am a narcissist, in case you were wondering.) How could Jelly possibly doubt how loveable she is?
It’s clearly time for intervention. There are no drugs that I know of to make a narcissist less self-important. Rather, intensive psychotherapy is the treatment of choice, assuming the person (or dog in this case) acknowledges the problem and is ready to work on it. The goal of intervention is to help the client come to a more accurate self-appraisal, and to help her cope better when she feels slighted.
Good thing I’m a trained professional. We’ll get started on this during tomorrow’s walk. I could use someone to drive the decoy car, though. Any takers?