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If the boys have little emperor syndrome, what do the girls get? It turns out the answer to this is even more disturbing, nearly 80% of girls (and possibly much more) born under the one child policy suffer from narcissistic personality disorders.

Girls get a much harder time. It’s not that their parents don’t love them, but they are a huge disappointment and it shows from the start. Dad is unhappy because not only does he not get his pension scheme (a son) but he also loses the ability to pass on the family name (I’m not sure why this is such a big deal in China given that there are literally millions of people with every surname – but it is).

They start out so cute and so happy don’t they? Yet beneath the surface – madness is being shaped early…

So from day one, daughters are playing with a losing hand. However, this doesn’t mean that these parents provide less care or attention for a daughter and in fact daughters are spoiled rotten too – but all the time with an undercurrent of “why couldn’t you have been a son and then things would be perfect?”

This isn’t a completely new thing either – Confucianism (China’s kind of almost but not really religion before communism) had a way of letting girls of bigger families know they weren’t important too. For example – if asked how big your family was, you would respond with “I have x number of sons.” Daughters didn’t count back then either.

So what’s a narcissistic disorder anyway?

There are two main types of narcissism (from a clinical perspective) – the exhibitionist and the closet case.

Oddly there’s a direct relationship between societal status – in particular looks and academic performance that enables you to predict which type will express in a Chinese woman.

If she’s very attractive and has real academic flair – she’s going to be exhibitionist, and if she’s considered both plain/unattractive and a poor student – she’s going to be a closet case.

Exhibitionists tend to promote their own self-importance and believe in too. They are positive that they are “special” (not in a school bus way) and that because of this – the world should treat them specially. They tend to sulk when criticised or get angry. They surround themselves with similar people to themselves (attractive and intelligent) and use these people to reflect themselves (rather than develop positive relationships). They’re exploitative, manipulative and unrestrained fantasists and often display strong jealousy of others. They lack empathy and the ability to feel love in any meaningful way.

Let’s get this straight – there’s no suggestion that this lovely lady is a narcissist but there’s a good chance that she might be. It seems a really bad idea for a nation to be moulding psyches in such an unhealthy way…

You might think that the closet type of narcissist would be at least a little more likeable but instead they spend their lives putting themselves down, against a wish list of “If only I was a little more pretty/clever/cute/etc.” They seek constant reassurance from the opposite sex and throw their toys out if this reassurance isn’t delivered in the way they want. She gets sulky and withdrawn and then angry and aggressive – both physically and verbally.

As you can imagine this leads to a lot of unhappy relationships, and it’s those relationships I’m going to start to examine tomorrow.