Catfishing and What We Can Learn from the Manti Te'O Scandal about Narcissism

According to Wikipedia:

“In the wake of the Manti Te'o girlfriend scandal, the term "Catfish" has entered common parlance to describe a person who engages someone in a fake relationship online, and the act of perpetrating such a hoax is now known as catfishing.

Catfish is a 2010 American documentary film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, involving a young man being filmed by his brother and friend as he builds a romantic relationship with a young woman on the social networking website Facebook.

Young photographer Yaniv "Nev" Schulman lives with his brother Ariel in New York City. For a documentary, Ariel and Henry film Nev as he begins an online relationship with Megan. She sends him MP3s of her songs, but Nev discovers that they are all falsely taken from performances on YouTube. He later finds evidence that she has lied about other things. Ariel urges Nev to continue the relationship for the documentary. The siblings travel to Michigan to make an impromptu appearance at the Pierces' house and confront Megan. At Angela's house, she takes some time to answer the door and soon casually announces that she will begin chemotherapy for uterine cancer. She drives them to see Abby, who is confused when asked about her paintings.

The next morning, Nev wakes up to a text message from Megan saying that she was checking into rehab and cannot meet him, which is confirmed by one of Megan's Facebook friends. Angela shortly admits the pictures of Megan were of someone else (and lied about twice), her daughter Megan is in rehab downstate, Megan has been estranged from the family, and that Angela made the paintings. Posing for a painting, Angela confesses that the various personae were fragments of her personality enacting fantasies of her life if she had made different choices. It also is revealed that Vince is under the illusion that Nev is a patron of Angela's and commissioned the artwork he received.

In response to his disappointment and disillusionment, Nev is told a story about live cod being shipped to Asia from North America. The fish's inactivity in their tanks resulted in mushy flesh, but fishermen found that putting catfish in the tanks with the cod kept them active. The group concludes that people like Angela are 'Catfish,' who keep other people active in life.”

Hence the word, Catfishing has been born as well as MTV’s new reality television show, Catfish, which is similar to the concept of the documentary but focuses on the lives of other people who have been involved in fake on-line relationships. Nev facilitates the investigations and stands by as others meet the real person behind their on-line relationship. It’s a fascinating show and certainly has me intrigued. As such, I’ve been doing a lot of research on this topic lately.

We are now learning that Catfishing is perpetrated by narcissists more than any other personality type. Why? Most of you here can probably answer this question with no help from me, but for those of you who are just beginning to understand narcissism, it’s important to note that narcissists are known for creating and projecting a false image of who they wish to be in an effort to cope with their disconnected and often painful life.

It is very sad, actually and in the case of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who duped Notre Dame football star, Manti Te’O into believing he had a real girlfriend who never existed, it provides the perfect example of how and why narcissists do this type of thing.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil he was in love with Manti Te’O. He said he did not create the relationship to get money or hurt Te'o in any way and his own doctor tells Dr. Phil that trauma and narcissism lead Tuiasosopo to make up the fantasy.

Dr. Phil states "The family dynamics here played a major role in an indirect way in why all of this began to unfold in Ronaiah's life. There was a very difficult relationship with his father early on and that was a back drop to some things that took place in Ronaiah's life that I think contributed greatly to what happened here.”

I won’t get into the details, but Ronaiah explains that he suffered horrible abuse as a child and pretending to be someone else provided an escape for him from the reality of his pain.

http://www.wtsp.com/news/topstories/article/295272/250/Dr-Phil-Trauma-an...

The following terms have been used interchangeably in our culture for years: real self, true self, inner child, higher self. These terms refer to the same core part in humans. It is who we are when we feel most authentic or genuine. Our true self is loving, giving, expressive, creative, and spontaneous. Overall, we feel whole and alive when we are in touch with our true self. This feeling of wholeness and happiness can only come to us when we are open, honest and real with ourselves. We refer to this as the real self.

In contrast, what has been called the false self, unauthentic self, or public self describes how we feel when we are uncomfortable or strained. Alienated from the true self, our false self is egocentric, selfish, withholding, envious, and critical. The false self is attached to material things and physical image. The false self prohibits us from being in touch with our true inner self, which is required in order to attain any level of spirituality or connection with others, in my opinion.

The false self is often used by individuals as a way to cover up their true feelings. It is inhibited and fearful. Once formed and functioning, the false self stifles the growth of the real self. The more developed one’s false self becomes, the more nonexistent the real self becomes.

Healthy well-adjusted people engage their real self the majority of the time. The false self is reserved only for situations in which one feels threatened or uneasy. The false self is often used as a defense mechanism. The false self often feels the need to impress others.

All of us are guilty of engaging the false self from time to time. It typically happens when we’re in a stressful situation, nervous or distracted. We just can’t seem to be ourselves. We may find ourselves saying something silly to impress someone else without even realizing how ridiculous we sound. It can happen to anyone depending on what is going on in their lives at the time. If we are distracted and not able to focus on the moment, we may try to fill space by saying something without thinking. Bottom line is when we engage our false self, we are NOT being authentic.

The real self has more compassion for others and encourages an authentic interaction where we can truly be ourselves. We are comfortable being ourselves and can drop all defenses. The false self, on the other hand, refuses to look at reality or face difficult issues.

It is important to understand that the real self plays NO role (active or passive) in the conscious life of a narcissist. That is because a narcissist’s false self has completely killed off his real self. A narcissist is dead inside and will always rely on others to validate his/her existence.

The false self serves many functions to a narcissist, the most important being an escape from the reality of their pain. It also acts as a shield or barrier to anyone who could potentially hurt, upset, or disappoint him. The false self can absorb any amount of pain. It is always grandiose, super-human and flawless. The false self feels the need to control, seeing others as nothing more than pawns in their quest for power and dominance.

A narcissist typically invents his false self as a child. By inventing it, he develops immunity to any abuse, indifference, smothering, or exploitation he may fall victim to as a child. He does not want to feel the feelings this mistreatment causes. Therefore, he invents a false self to protect himself from the pain.

By projecting a false self to others, a narcissist is able to live in a fantasy world of his own creation. His false self acts as a defense shield to ensure his real self (buried deep within) can never be hurt again. Its role is to protect him from the pain of his reality.Unfortunately, it also kills his spirit, disconnects him, deadens him inside and prohibits him from attaching to any other human in a healthy way.

While it is important to understand that narcissists disconnect from themselves as children, it is even more critical for you to understand that not only has a narcissist disconnected from himself, but he will NEVER allow himself to connect with another person under any circumstance.

A narcissist lives in a world of fear. He is afraid of being exposed, afraid of being abandoned and afraid of losing control. Living in a state of fear like this causes him to always be in a fight or flight mode. He is always on the defense and unable to let his guard down. As a result, he does not attach to others in a healthy way and inevitably destroys any trust that once existed in a relationship. The demise of a healthy relationship with a narcissist is unavoidable.

As I noted in a recent post here, pathological narcissism stems from one of two things: 1) neglect/abuse OR 2) smothering and over-indulgence....either too much or too little of something creates pathology. I feel very sorry for those who develop NPD as a result of neglect and abuse. This truly is sad no matter how one looks at it.

As forum member Indifferent summarized for us: "Narcissists borne of deprived childhoods are driven by shame and fear and those borne of indulgent childhoods are driven by entitlement and greed."

Today, researchers are finding that more and more narcissists are resulting from parents who over-indulge their children vs. those being neglected. But even aside from parenting, everywhere you look, narcissism is being rewarded. Our culture is BREEDING narcissists in our modern-day era of social media, reality television and celebrity obsession. It makes me wonder how a young person growing up in today's environment can even hope of NOT falling prey to the grips of narcissism.

February 8, 2013 - 3:24pm
Not your blow u...
Not your blow up doll's picture

How to NOT raise a future N

February 10, 2013 - 5:48pm (Reply to #8)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture

Very good question

February 10, 2013 - 9:01pm (Reply to #24)
Not your blow u...
Not your blow up doll's picture

Yes, please! My family or

February 10, 2013 - 6:00pm (Reply to #9)
Janie53
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Lisa

February 12, 2013 - 9:48am (Reply to #10)
Lisa E. Scott
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You got it!

February 19, 2013 - 12:10pm (Reply to #20)
Janie53
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Lisa

February 19, 2013 - 12:39pm (Reply to #21)
Lisa E. Scott
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You got it, Janie!

February 20, 2013 - 2:42am (Reply to #23)
Janie53
Janie53's picture

Lisa

February 19, 2013 - 12:53pm (Reply to #22)
Janie53
Janie53's picture

Lisa

February 12, 2013 - 3:57pm (Reply to #13)
Janie53
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Lisa

February 12, 2013 - 9:59pm (Reply to #14)
Lisa E. Scott
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So true!

February 13, 2013 - 3:34pm (Reply to #17)
Janie53
Janie53's picture

Lisa

February 17, 2013 - 11:31am (Reply to #18)
Lisa E. Scott
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Janie

February 17, 2013 - 12:48pm (Reply to #19)
Janie53
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Lisa

February 13, 2013 - 7:52am (Reply to #16)
Janie53
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Lisa

February 13, 2013 - 6:09am (Reply to #15)
indifferent
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Great article....

February 12, 2013 - 1:51pm (Reply to #11)
indifferent
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Yes I'd be very interested...

February 12, 2013 - 5:32pm (Reply to #12)
leslieisback
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I was home schooled, so I was

February 8, 2013 - 3:03pm
bgirl
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So fascinating yet oh so

February 7, 2013 - 5:57pm
indifferent
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You're wise...

February 7, 2013 - 6:34pm (Reply to #4)
Lisa E. Scott
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Thanks, Indiiferent!

February 7, 2013 - 9:14pm (Reply to #5)
Goldie
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Excellent

February 7, 2013 - 2:58pm
Hunter
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Once again you our the source

February 7, 2013 - 3:28pm (Reply to #1)
spinning
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Yes, yes, yes,

spinning

February 7, 2013 - 4:10pm (Reply to #2)
Lisa E. Scott
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And I learn from each and everyone of you too....