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What's REALLY Wrong With the Octomom?

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Nadya Suleman's been called plenty of terrible names. But is there an actual clinical label for her behavior?

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People just love to call Nadya Suleman names. In the intense media scrutiny of the single, unemployed mother of 14, she is often referred to as publicity-obsessed train-wreck mom from hell. And those are the nicer ones.

But perhaps, the name we should be calling Suleman is simply narcissist.

Narcissism, the psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem, says licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Chrystal Evans, might have developed in Suleman out of the fear of abandonment when Suleman was a child. "She could have suffered some kind of trauma  from being an only child -- maybe her parents weren't available to help fill the void of her loneliness." The "lonely only" scenario doesn't usually result in a personality disorder, clarifies Dr. Evans, but it is possibly how Suleman dealt with her personal situation.

Suleman's narcissistic tendencies, says Dr. Evans, might be precisely the reason Nadya wants to have so many children. "The babies feed into her narcissism. They are dependent on her. She is in a position of power," speculates Evans.

The psychological disorder also could illuminate why there are no men in Suleman's life. Most women who suffer from a fear of abandonment suffer from the "You can't fire me, I quit" philosophy --  they push people away. And now that she's kicked out the free nanny service Angels in Waiting, she literally has no one -- she doesn't even appear to have any close friends helping her out. "I'd be very interested to find out if she has some support system," says Dr. Evans, "even cousins, who are a part of her life."

So is being stalked by the paparazzi, as Suleman is night and day, a narcissist's dream? "For someone who craves love and other people's attention, she's loving it. It's likely it doesn't matter to her that the attention is mostly negative."

The bottom line hypothesizes Dr.Evans is Nadya Suleman might not be operating with the same set of values as most of society -- which is how she's able to go shopping, get manicures and pose for the paparazzi instead of taking care of her babies. And in true narcissistic fashion, she probably doesn't care what anyone thinks.  "Most people have a sense of integrity and pride," says Evens, "needing to feel that other people like us and respect us, but narcissists generally don't." 
 
Does this mean parents of only one daughter should be concerned that they'll be so lonely one day they'll try to fill that void by having as many children as humanly possible?

"No," says Dr. Evans, who is herself an only child. "There is a healthy way of doing that. I don't want to blame her mom and dad, but maybe they didn't facilitate friendships. It's important. Make sure your only child develops friendships with other children."

With two more of the octuplets returning home today, Suleman's story has not even begun to play out. Only time will tell how Suleman, possibly burdened with a personality disorder, will make her situation work. Dr. Evans would like to wager a guess: "I think eventually they will take her children away."

Do you agree?

 
 


next: The Avalanche of an Affair
21 comments so far | Post a comment now
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