Specifically narcissistic personality disorder? I ask because some of the stuff I read on these blogs is just nuts. A week or two ago there was a post on Mark Sisson's site from a guy who looked normal and healthy and then started eating paleo. He looks better, sure, but I don't think there was anything wrong with the guy to begin with. I wouldn't say he was terrible. Photographic evidence here:
And then there's Jack's comment over on Free the Animal (this is Richard's "Penis Post"):
Not diagnosing either of these people as narcissists. Frankly I spend way too much time looking at myself in the mirror, so I'm in no place to judge. But is that all there is, having abs (and penis?) hard enough to crack walnuts on?
I've talked about this quite a bit with a close paleo friend, and it does seem like some of us in the paleo community (myself included!) occasionally think we're a little smarter than the average person who still eats reduced fat granola and skim milk for breakfast. I think Olivia's right that paleo does tend to attract that sort of personality (hey, everyone else has been duped! We're the ones with the right answers!) But does paleo CAUSE narcissistic personality disorder? I don't think so. But then again, I'm too busy flexing in front of a mirror to put much thought into the question.
Paleo does not cause personality disorders anymore than shoe size causes height - http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2010/7/21/statins-and-the-cholesterol-hypothesis-part-i.html
Paleo is just the means to the end for people already with a disorder, the drug of choice if you will. I'm sure if you go a Vegan, Ornish, or Weight Watchers forum, you will see the same ridiculous shit. I wouldn't know since I never have, nor do I care to confirm.
Having said that, I completely agree with your observations. I have been really torn lately about disengaging from all of the forums/blogs because of things like this and the predominance of inanity and banality.
But alas, I am still spending an inordinate amount of time here again today. Got crack?
I doubt that Paleo causes personality disorders ---- but it sure as hell attracts people with borderline personalities to it.....
You can't manage what you don't measure.
...and measurement requires paying attention to changes.
However, I don't care to read the penis post; but I the read the 'success story' and I seem to recall that the guy talked just as much about poor sleep quality and digestive issues as how he looked. Sure, the pictures are fun to look at and encouraging too; but I don't think he was neurotically focused on his physique as much as trying genuinely to be healthier.
That said, we've discussed orthorexia nervosa before...
So, let's just agree that any diet taken to the extreme can "cause" a disorder; not just paleo. ;)
Paleo can cause personality disorders. Not just Paleo, any diet that causes you to obsess and think about yourself constantly. Perhaps "cause" is incorrect; "exacerbate" would probably be the correct term.
It's good to want to be healthy, however, I believe that some people seek out more from a diet than that. First of all, it gives them a feeling of belonging. That's one of the reasons that you will find people who are as fervent about their "diet" as a nationalist is about the flag. If you look at picture on Jimmy Moore's page, you could easily imagine him as one of those Bible-thumpers who come to your house to proselytize.
I also suspect that some people expect TOO much out of a diet. It's not a pancea for life's ills. A lot of diet gurus implicitly or explicitly propagate their diet as some sort of panacea.
None of the above is good for mental health. So yes, Paleo, could lead to mental disorders, not because of any dietary deficiencies, but just by virtue of being a dogma.
My opinion is that the extent of pride/positivity in a successful change like this is proportionate to the degree of frustration/negativity in your "before" state. Any transformation, internal or external, is really powerful and it's human nature to express it. Just because we tend to value external drastic change as shallow doesn't discount the powerful impact it has on a person. I try to withhold judgment in light of this.
It makes sense to me that paleo would attract narcissists, they've tried everything else, but it didn't make 'em pretty or fit enough. It is the best thing I've found out there for looking good and feeling good, seems like a natural fit.
I also think it is normal to go through an embarrassing "finding God" phase with any change that makes you feel drastically better. And it is a really big ego boost when you think you've outsmarted everyone else in the process. I sincerely apologize to anyone I was around when I started meditating. Once you've hit your wellness plateau though, if you are still being an insufferable d-bag you might have NPD.
I don't think paleo can cause personality disorders, I think those are at a separate level of pathology and run much deeper than, say, just feeling better about yourself because you changed your diet. Personality disorders develop very early in life, as far as I know, and you're not going to suddenly develop NPD from going paleo. But I think that people who are more narcissistic to begin with are much more likely to be drawn to Paleo, or any other community that focuses a lot on fitness and appearance and just generally being "better" than your average person. Not that I'm saying the majority of PHers are like that! But in any fitness community you'll find a lot of people who are obsessed with themselves. If you drastically improve your appearance I think it's also normal to become a little obsessed with it, because it's a novelty to feel good about yourself and feel attractive all of the sudden.
Edited to add there's a lot more to NPD than just excessive vanity, e.g lack of empathy for others, grandiose sense of self, etc.
My observation? Paleo does seem to attract a certain type of person, although I don't know if I'd call them narcissistic. I think paleo people tend to be very intelligent and self-actualized. They like to understand the world around them and use that knowledge to their advantage. And who can blame them if they want to share with the world what a good thing they've discovered?
I don't have proof or citations, but...
It make sense to me in evolutionary psych terms, that any human that found a thing or a method that dramatically improved anything in life, would almost feel compelled to share it with other humans.
The spreading of what is perceived to be a powerful bit of knowledge to our tribe is built in.
And who we view as our tribe changes with time and social connections.
Yes, you paleohackers are percieved by me to be my social group or eTribe.
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