Intellectual Narcissism | Teen Ink

Intellectual Narcissism

January 23, 2020
By rosemarymelon SILVER, Garfield, New Jersey
rosemarymelon SILVER, Garfield, New Jersey
5 articles 2 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Wouldn't the world be better off if we took nonsense more seriously? (Marvin Yagoda)

Throughout, I’ve found myself quite involved in my mindscape--a kind of intrapersonal egocentrism. Everything I have become invested in--be it philosophy, art, or science--has been in some way facilitated by an intrinsic need to achieve the fullest expression and understanding of self.

Sometime in junior high school, for instance, I became obsessed with self-report inventories: the Four Temperaments Test, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, Big Five. Dozens of them, I would fill out, eager to find my results, to then compare to those achieved by my family and peers. Especially the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), whose simplicity and popularity (think astrology with its infamous signs) enticed me. Indeed, exploring the sixteen different types, all combinations of Introversion versus Extroversion, INtuition versus Sensing, Thinking versus Feeling, and Perceiving versus Judging was entertainment in of itself, a matching game.

How “introverted” am I? The ENFP is the most introverted of extroverts. “Intuition”: What does that mean? Am I all that creative?

Later, I would discover “Functional Stacks” -- hierarchical “introverted” or “extroverted” sub-types inherent to your base type, turning a mere hobby into a complete, utter fixation. Now, I had to compare Extroverted INtuition (Ne), the unique thought processes that pertained to it (more expansive), to that of Introverted INtuition (Ni) (more focused). And that was discounting Introverted Sensing (Si), Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Thinking (Ti), and then some. Overwhelming was the sheer number of options that had suddenly befallen me. I became increasingly aware of myself -- my mannerisms, ticks, and quirks -- but then it became an issue of confirmation bias. I noticed how, in my observations of myself, my thoughts shifted into the patterns I believed were more typical of the INTP, impersonal, objective (or were they genuine?). Toward those rarer types, I knew I held a slight preference. Curious, I became, towards various criticisms of the MBTI, many describing it as reductive in its descriptions of different people. The entire concept of having these designations, I would come to realize for myself, troubled me, too: they were rigid. Nothing existed in a spectrum; the personality you received was the one you would always have, certain traits enabled or repressed by one’s environment, sure. Regardless, however, intrinsically the same. This sparked the question of free will in my mind: what extent of control do we have over the way we compose ourselves? Did my self-awareness subdue or change my personality?

And so, I became involved in the concept of predestination. Ayn Rand described free will in "For the New Intellectual" as the following: "your mind’s freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and your character." A man's degree of focus or unfocus; their choice to think. I found that I didn't necessarily agree with her; where do my desires stem? What is it that compels us to choose to observe one thing over another? That question, I would come to find, was strongly linked to Biology. Self-preservation: an organism's intrinsic need to survive, facilitating many of our desires and thus our behavior.

Why are humans social animals? Traveling in tight-knit groups ensured one's safety, a convention which at one point in time may have proved critical to the survival of our whole.

In the field of neuroscience, it is agreed that people, more often than not, feel in control of their actions. As proposed by psychologist Julian B. Rotter, it is desirable to have an internal locus of control--believe that one is responsible for the position one is in at present. You have the power to control your fate. But the question of whether such a perspective is a reality, or an attainable one, even, is far more obscure. Damage to the brain can leave one in a permanent vegetative state. Is the person that was once active and healthy gone; were they, in other words, their brain? Or is the brain like a radio, receiving signals of intention from elsewhere? If the latter proves true, would anyone, then, be able to trace the origin of that secondary, tertiary, and-then-some signal?

And Chemistry (my intended major) underlies Biology, as do Physics and Mathematics. Speaking of, much Scientific advancement occurred during the Enlightenment Period. Proto-Romantics, as a result, fought against the prevailing Rationalism. They favored emotion and intensity, i.e., the "Sturm Und Drang" (Storm and Stress) movement, a thematic element of one of Goethe's works "Faust" (my favorite play!). Finally, we return to the psychological scene with G. Stanley Hall, an evolutionary psychologist who borrowed said term in his theory surrounding the turmoils of adolescence. The "storm," in this case, is that of the passion and intense feeling experienced by teenagers throughout the ages. Such as myself.

In short, endless self-indulgence.

The author's comments:

This was just a really, really long tangent about my interests--what truly fascinates me! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it :^)

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