The Wikipedia has some interesting definitions about narcissism — briefly put, a condition where you’re hopelessly in love with your own image. Specifically, Wikipedia quotes Hotchkiss’ seven deadly sins of narcissism:
- Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
- Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
- Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
- Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
- Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
- Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
- Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.
Well, you need to have all seven of them to be classified as having a narcissistic personality; all of us will have a bit of each.
Crossdressers often have a bit more than that, and I think this is where there is a slight difference between them and fully-diagnosed transexuals. When you have gender identity disorder, you hate your image of yourself, and wish to do everything to change that image to the opposite gender — when you finally get rid of the anxiety of seeing yourself as you imagine you should have been born.
Crossdressers — although it’s hard to say how many think that way — may have a slight twist on that. They might not “hate” their male version; but they’re enthusiastically adoring their female image. And, when doing so, they exhibit some of the above “deadly sins”. I’ll be talking about my own relationship to each (sure, it’s an article about myself! 🙂 What could be more narcissistic? 🙂 )
Once in a while I stop to wonder, is my behaviour “normal”? “Normal” people don’t “show off” on YouTube, only the ones who are either insecure about themselves or have the need to become the focus of admiration do that. Well, you know I’m exaggerating, because you have things like DIY videos where the only purpose is to help people out or provide interesting, factual information about a subject. But in my case, I desire admiration, and that pushes me to do things that most “normal” people would not.
Crossdressing by itself requires overstepping the “shame” aspect. We are brought out to think that it’s “shameful” to wear clothes of the opposite gender. I’m not discussing why this is an aspect of our society, but “shame” is a learned behaviour: you learn the rules of the society you live in, and are encouraged to feel shame when you consciously break those rules. Shame is a human mechanism (and also present in many animals!) to encourage social norms, to encourage belonging to a group and doing what the group deems acceptable; a society, a civilisation, would be impossible otherwise.
A lot of people naturally are “beyond shame”. Criminals, for instance, have no scruples in breaking the law to their advantage; seldom they are ashamed of what they do, or, even if they feel shame during the first times they break laws, as they continue to engage in criminal activities, they lose all sense of shame. Which is also natural: by adopting a shameless behaviour over and over again, it becomes “second nature” — it replaces the shameful behaviour and feels as natural as that.
Obviously, at least in most non-Islamic countries, crossdressing is not a criminal activity, but merely self-expression. Nevertheless, we’re conditioned that it is “Not Right” to wear clothes of the opposite gender. So, every crossdresser will need to deal with the shame of doing so. But soon the shame wears away, as crossdressing becomes more and more natural; in fact, I believe that it’s when we crossdressers drop all shame that we really start to enjoy ourselves. It’s not different from, say, school kids who are conditioned to wear uniforms to school every day, but, once entering college, they’re allowed to wear whatever they please — but they might feel ashamed of displaying so much self-expression, telling so much about their own preferences in clothes to others. This obviously doesn’t last long: soon, the thrill of being able to wear what one likes to wear is overwhelming, and the “shame” is just a distant emotion, forgotten in the past. That’s exactly what happens to someone who starts crossdressing and reaches that moment in time when it’s just pure adrenaline and pleasure and absolutely no shame.
We still have our barriers. We start by dressing in private, and it feels shameful to go out in public. Then we learn to go out to “safe” places (CD homes, CD bars and restaurants, and so forth). And there comes a time when even walking in bright daylight does not feel shameful at all, even if everybody else reacts negatively to us.
Shamelessness is not necessarily a “personality disorder”; I think it’s merely breaking free of conditioned behaviour which induces shame. But of course it has its side-effects. Last night, when I went out at 3:30 AM, I expected everybody in my neighbourhood to be asleep. Not so! My neighbours from the 1st floor were at the balcony, still wide awake and idly chatting, and they most certainly watched me walking towards my car, which was just parked in front of the building. They certainly commented upon my dress and my (new) shoes, and they were not exactly flattering, just, well, thinking it was weird — I obviously don’t pass in public (more on that later). Did they recognise me? Well, it’s possible, I really don’t know. It was a clear night, and my car is probably well-known in the neighbourhood, but I might have been a bit too far away for a clear image (and I was also mostly presenting my back to them). When I returned home, I was more careful to leave the car elsewhere and take a different route, where they couldn’t see me. Why? Because I feel ashamed — I’m not comfortable with having my neighbours pointing me out on the street and laughing! (Well, they didn’t exactly laugh, but you know what I mean).
Obviously if I did this every day and were exposed to their comments every time I went out crossdressed, I’d lose all shame. Because, after all, I’m not doing anything “wrong” in the legal sense of the word. Crossdressing is not an offense in my country. LGBT rights protect our self-expression as people of a different gender than our biological one; so there is nothing more beyond social conditioning to be ashamed of, and, as said, with time, the social conditioning will also be overcome.
This is something interesting when observing myself, and, thanks to the videos, I can recreate the experience. In the not so distant past, once I finished my makeup and did all the last retouches, I would look at myself and think, “wow, I’m perfect!” — which would almost always trigger an erection and at least some pre-cumming. For many hours I would be amazed at how good I looked. Then I would do the videos and be generally pleased with the results.
This is magical thinking: believing one’s perfect, because the brain will “fill in” what’s wrong.
Later, perhaps a few days afterwards, I might take a more critical look at my pictures and videos, and I would only see the defects. Sure, under bad light and the proper angles, I might not look too bad, but, overall, the “perfection” was only in my mind.
As time goes on, I’m much more critical than before. Videos and pictures that I found “acceptable” a few years ago now look absolutely disgusting to me. Why? Because, well, I do not have a “narcissistic personality disorder”. I can still be very critical about my appearance… afterwards.
Note that the constant encouragement that I get from others while crossdressed feeds the magical thinking; if everybody tells me how great I look, I tend to start believing in it myself! This is also related to some of the other points below.
I can skip this section, because my levels of arrogance are tolerably low 🙂 Still, it’s a trait that is common to a few crossdressers I’ve seen online, who are constantly bickering and insulting others to draw attention to themselves. Then again, I would say this is quite common online — we call it “drama” — and so I cannot say that it’s something the crossdressing/transgender community does more often than other communities.
Well, if you have been following my blog, you know how much I envy zillions of people 🙂 In fact, to be more precise, I envy half the population — the ones who were genetically born women. Among the rest, I envy everyone who manages to go through transition, even knowing that it’s far harder than I can possibly imagine, and that the results are often not so good as I might imagine they are. I also envy all crossdressers who have the freedom to go out in public all the time and nothing nor nobody prevents them from dressing. And, finally, I envy the vast multitude of crossdressers who were lucky to be born with skinny, androgynous bodies, so that they can pass perfectly as women all the time.
So, yes, envy is one of my deepest traits. The antidote to envy and jealously is to be very, very happy for all those people who have wonderful lives (or figures) and can enjoy themselves so tremendously. It would be stupid to get angry or show contempt to them. After all, they’re just able to be happy — and why shouldn’t I rejoice in their happiness as well? Nowadays, there are few things that please me more than seeing a fellow CD or TG who managed to go out looking gorgeous, or go through transition with support from their families. These personal stories fill me with joy, often bringing me tears of happiness for them! But I’m aware I’m not perfect — I still envy many of them.
This is one complex emotion, which however I’m also prone to feel. Briefly put, I often think that just because I was born a crossdresser (or, if you prefer, a transgendered individual), I’m “entitled” to crossdress no matter what, because I’m “special”.
Let me give you another example, which perhaps makes more sense. Suppose you’re ill with the ‘flu. You feel terrible, and you only wish to stay in bed, drink warm tea, and expect others not to bother you too much while you recover. This is perfectly natural, in the sense that a person who is ill is entitled to recovery, and we don’t expect them to be active as usual. So it’s not as if being ill is something “special”, but it somehow grants you a few privileges: you don’t need to go to work (or school), you’re allowed to stay in bed, you are able to rest a lot, and so forth. We have all been ill at some point in our lives and have gone through that.
I’m not saying that being transgendered is an “illness” but it shares some of its aspects. For instance, not being able to crossdress as often as possible — maybe even 24/7! — is a deep source of anxiety and depression. So while it might not be a physical disease in the common meaning of the word, it still is a mental “condition” or “problem”, which, however, can be solved: when dressing, the anxiety and depression disappear, or at least are postponed.
Putting in other words: if the “desire to crossdress” is a mental affliction, the “cure” is just to crossdress, which will ease the affliction. So, because we expect others to respect the “entitlements” of ill people, we also expect others to respect our desire to easy our mental afflictions by crossdressing.
In reality, of course, this is not so easy. For most crossdressers, crossdressing is just something you can do outside the sphere of work, family and friends (at least, non-crossdressing friends). Even if you’re quite open about your crossdressing, and everybody at work, family and friends know you’re a crossdresser, that doesn’t mean you’re “entitled” to crossdressing all the time, but, well, just at “special” times.
Unfortunately, the urge to crossdress is like a headache: it can come at any time. But unlike headaches, which you can cure with some medicine at any time, and nobody will bother you if you take an aspirin, the “cure” to the crossdressing urge is not immediately available. You will need to postpone the “cure” and simply endure the suffering caused by the absence of crossdressing. In my case, there are sometimes whole weeks when the only event that matters are the few hours when I’ll be able to crossdress; nothing else is really important.
But obviously the rest of the world does not agree with me. So, I have unreasonable expectations about what I’m “entitled” to do, and, because of that, I tend to get either furious or depressed. As mentioned on earlier blog articles, I’m working hard on both emotions, and controlling them to a degree, but they won’t go away just because I wish 🙂
In some cases, crossdressers might have partners who are financially dependent on them, and they can leverage this dependency to force them to accept their “condition” and crossdress much more often, putting a strain in the relationship (specially if the partner is not really keen on the crossdressing “hobby” of their husbands, but has no choices except accepting or leaving…). In my case, I can’t be accused of that, but I constantly worry that my crossdressing time is a burden upon my wife.
Let me try to give you another analogy in order to explain what I feel. Suppose a couple has some food restrictions: the husband can eat everything except soy beans, while the wife can only eat soy products, and they cannot afford to cook two different meals every time. How will they solve the problem? Well, a truly loving couple might eat soy on alternate days, making a Solomonic compromise, but that would be stupid, because both would get progressively ill. One of the partners might say, “ok, I love my partner, so I’ll have to eat something that is not good for me, because otherwise my partner will surely get ill — it matters little if I get ill because of that”. If both think precisely the same — each wishing the best for their partner — the problem is the same: what will they eat? Both might refuse to eat anything and then they will both die!
This is obviously a very extreme case, but consider the mental anguish going through both partners as they reason out what is the best solution simultaneously for both. Maybe the husband might get used to eating tiny portions of soy beans, slowly training his organism to accept something which is poisonous to him, and raising his acceptance levels of soy beans, and then moving to other products — while the wife continues to eat just the soy beans and leave the rest alone. Or, conversely, the wife might start eating tiny bits of other kinds of food and see how much she can take before her organism collapses. Unfortunately, in reality, these examples might be impossible — you can train yourself to resist some kinds of poison, but not all.
But let’s suppose that in this example both are able, very slowly, to increase the amount of food they can accept. The husband might not be able to survive with a soy-only diet, but he might tolerate more and more, as time goes by; and, conversely, the wife might start eating other things beyond soy, and, very slowly, she might not throw up or get seriously ill. At the end they might have a mixed meal, which both can partake, even though the husband might be eating a little soy, while the wife might be eating mostly soy. But there would be some middle ground! On average, however, both would be eating a meal that is half soy, half everything else.
Now this is a bit what happens with my crossdressing. At the beginning of my relationship, I simply didn’t crossdress regularly (but only on the occasions where I was away from home, either on business trips, or vacations I took on my own — my wife didn’t always have free time for vacations at the same time I did). Seven years later, I revealed myself as a crossdresser, and managed to dress occasionally — once a month, then progressing to 1-2 times a week. And some seven years after that or so, I finally got her permission to go out on my own, provided it’s always very late (too late to hang around in bars!) and I’m not “seen” by anyone. So this is like getting used to soy, a bit by bit. However, I always have this feeling that my wife is extremely uncomfortable with the whole situation. She’s used to it, yes, but she would rather prefer that I weren’t a crossdresser. She tolerates it because she understands my issues, but I have always the feeling that I’m going too far, too fast for her.
So am I “exploiting” my wife? From my perspective — and from the perspective of my fellow CD friends — the answer is “no”, but what matters to me is the perspective of my wife, not mine. I still think she’s not quite comfortable with it. Nine years ago, she promised that eventually she would go out with me as well, but she never actually did so, and she has given her reason for that: she’s a rather shy person, and hates to draw any attention towards herself, and if she goes out with me crossdressed, it’s impossible to avoid attention! This means that going out with me would run completely contrary to her personality, and, of course, personalities are very hard to change. Also, she’s obviously not convinced that it’s “good” to draw attention in public (see “shamelessness”!), so it’s nothing she’s actively striving for.
In a sense, because I’m a crossdresser, and have no option but to crossdress, I’m always “exploiting” the good will of my wife, and the only thing that I need to figure out — constantly! — is how far I can press the issue before she feels she’s being “exploited”. Sometimes it’s tough — getting another pair of shoes can be the turning point (actually, in this case, it wasn’t).
I think this is something quite common to us crossdressers! Once we lose our sense of shame, we surround ourselves with similarly-minded individuals (i.e. other crossdressers and CD-lovers) and expect them to please us by telling us how great we are! I’m completely guilty as charged — that’s why you can see me on YouTube, Cam4 and xHamster, because, well, I love an audience!
The difference is that I don’t exploit this audience, nor do I need it, I just enjoy it. There is a world of difference between these extremes; a true narcissist will either exploit/manipulate their audience in order to get constant feedback on how great they are, and, without them, will feel completely lost. This is certainly not my case, nor is it the case of many CDs I’m aware of.
In fact, in a sense, I might be slightly uncommon in that regard (maybe because I’m sharding my shame quicker?). If you take a look at the kinds of YouTube videos that are posted by crossdressers, most are shy, just show a bit of their shoes or legs, never show themselves clearly or completely, and so forth. YouTube is not a good medium to represent the majority of crossdressers, because the so-called libidinous types, who wear women’s clothing in order to get sexual relationships, are quickly banned from YouTube — but end up on more liberal-thinking websites. So, as a rule of thumb, the “attention” generated by crossdressers online is usually with the purpose of getting a sexual partner. The ones not interested in getting partners are more discreet and usually don’t “show off”, although a few most certainly do. My best example is Jessica Who, who has been running a crossdresser comedy channel on YouTube for several years (although sometimes she gets serious…) and can be considered a net.celebrity. She certainly doesn’t “need” an audience, or manipulates the audience to please her, but she clearly enjoys herself when doing her show.
I also wonder if, some day, a close friend, colleague, or family member, comes in touch with my YouTube channel 🙂 What will I do next? Well, it’s highly likely that I will shut it down, but not after sending an email to that friend/colleague/family member: “why were you searching the ‘net for crossdresser videos??” 🙂
What about you?
Now it’s your turn. Among the Seven Sins, which ones do you have? Which seem to be predominant among crossdressers? Or are crossdressers not so narcissistic after all?