Although many people only know Jada Pinkett Smith as Will Smith’s wife, she has now become even more famous for her pioneering of the Facebook show, Red Table Talk (RTT). The premise of the show is pretty self-explanatory; mainly consisting of conversations between Mrs. Smith, her mother Adrienne Pinkett, and her daughter Willow Smith, that all happen at—yep, you guessed it—a red table. The Red Table:
The three women cover (or conquer, you could say) broad topics ranging from White privilege to the Jordyn Woods or the R. Kelly scandals. Despite this large variety of topics, their main goal stays the same: to educate and discuss difficult and sensitive topics that ultimately must be addressed. Comments rush in from all parts of the world as they debunk complex racial, gender, and psychological issues. Personally, I feel enlightened after watching these three women speak for forty minutes.
One of their recent episodes, The Narcissism Epidemic, caught my eye. Here, the three women invited renowned psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula onto the show. Together, they worked to identify the traits of a narcissist, as well as address ways to manage them in your life.
When we hear the word “narcissist,” many of us think of Instagram feeds that consist entirely of selfies in different types of lighting.
Dr. Durvasula, however, says that these so called “narcissists” are not actually an accurate representation of the persona unless they base their self worth off of the comments and validation they receive on these posts.
Moreover, she clarifies that narcissism actually comes from a place of severe insecurity. Many narcissists, or “self-obsessed” individuals, are often the way they are because they have only ever been recognized for the things that they do—rather than for their personalities and emotional achievements. I think we can all think of a couple of people whose parents treat them this way.
To find out whether the SAS community is aware of this changing definition of narcissism, I decided to interview the teacher who founded the AT Psychology course this year: Ms. Summerton.
When asked about her definition of narcissism, she cited the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual), and said that “those who exhibit narcissistic personality disorder expect to be recognized as superior even if their achievements don’t warrant it.” Some examples she gave is students who want to have the best seat in the classroom, or the classes that they want to take. But, she also said that almost everyone has narcissistic tendencies. In essence, a narcissist is only a narcissist if it gets in the way of their lives.
Those who exhibit narcissistic personality disorder expect to be recognized as superior even if their achievements don’t warrant it.Ms. Summerton, High School Teacher
In regards to the SAS community, she acknowledges that many students call each other out about being a narcissist. In fact, it’s almost everyday that she hears someone yell in the hallways: “You’re such a narcissist!” We can’t deny that people seem to think everyone is a narcissist these days.
Researchers have credited the prevalence of narcissistic tendencies to the rise of social media. When asked about how social media impacts the state of narcissism today, Ms. Summerton says: “Because of social media, the way we get instant gratification, the way we use things like likes, we are always presenting a certain view of ourselves…we are developing more narcissistic tendencies, the need for constant approval, to not be challenged.”
Ms. Summerton’s course AT Psychology touches on these personality disorders as well as their roles in relationships. Through research projects and assignments, psych students are exposed to personality disorders and tendencies that are prevalent in societies all over the world–including ours.
Because of social media, the way we get instant gratification, the way we use things like likes, we are always presenting a certain view of ourselves…we are developing more narcissistic tendencies, the need for constant approval, to not be challenged.Ms. Summerton, High School Teacher at SAS
Ultimately, it is crucial that we make sure to take the time to understand narcissism, so that the next time we see someone post a string of selfies, we don’t immediately brand them as narcissists.