The narcissistic continuum? The psychopathic continuum? The sociopath explained as being someone located at the apex of the narcissistic continuum?
Are clinical continuums silly? Maybe they are.
How “nice” are you? Well, maybe you’re somewhere on a continuum of “niceness.” At the apex, you are a super-nice individual; in the middle, sometimes very nice, sometimes less so; at the nadir, you are just an incredibly “un-nice” (or “mean”) person.
Hmmm. Wow. Somehow this doesn’t seem like a newsflash.
How sloppy are you? Well, couldn’t Robert Hare have developed clinically a “sloppiness” (versus a psychopathic) measure that places all of us somewhere on a “sloppiness” continuum.
With a score of 40, you are an incorrigibly sloppy individual, so sloppy that maybe society needs protection from you; with a score of 1-5, you are seriously, anally “neat,” so pathologically neat that society will DEFINITELY need protection from you.
The rest of us? We fall somewhere in-between, a fact that just doesn’t particularly astonish me.
Okay, I’m being somewhat facetious, but only somewhat. Because really, when you think about it, doesn’t every quality, literally every quality, encompass its own continuum? Aren’t we all, to say it again, on a continuum of EVERY quality there is to possess?
For instance, this article alone probably puts me pretty high up on the “annoying” continuum (and trust me, I can probably find a few others who might put me higher up on that continuum than I’d like to admit.)
Take the “intelligence” continuum—all of us, after all, fall somewhere between “dimwits” and “geniuses.” (If the self-testing IQ manuals mean anything, I fall somewhere on the this continuum beneath the orangutan and the llama.)
So a part of me (just a part) laughs when I hear that “sociopaths” are individuals way up on the narcissistic continuum. I could tell you, I think with some confidence, that “sociopaths” are individuals way up on the “dishonesty/deceptive” continuum. Or that sociopaths are seriously lagging on the “empathy/compassion” continuum. I think that would also be true.
We know that Al Gore invented the Internet. That places Al pretty high up on the “delusional” continuum. And Nancy Grace pretty much invented herself, which places her very high up on the “self-invention” continuum.
I’m going to bed soon, because I’m very tired; that must mean, at the moment, I’m way up on the “exhaustion” continuum.
Where are you on all of life’s hundreds of continuums?
To be “continuumed” in a future article.
(This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)