Tag Archives: narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In earlier posts, I suggested that Cassidy had some kind of narcissistic personality disorder. Note that I didn’t say he suffered from NPD. I know from personal experience that people with personality disorders are rarely the ones who suffer. It’s usually the people around them who do the suffering.

Some people might think it strange that a person who is completely self-obsessed, selfish and narcissistic would be able to inspire the kind of loyalty that Cassidy’s supporters obviously feel towards him. However, we should remember here that while they are quite prepared to show a very negative side to people who have nothing they want or who stand up to them, narcissists are famous for their ability to charm those they want to use or control, which explains why so many cult leaders and con-men are narcissists.

Here is a list of some of the most important characteristics of a person with NPD:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

His book was, according to Cassidy, bigger than Frank McCourt’s and he had degrees from Cornell and Columbia – though in reality he didn’t have any degrees from anywhere.

  1. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

A short while after his idiotic book was published, Cassidy was already using his new-found status as a published author by helping to found the Irish American Writers’ and Artists’ Association.

  1. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

Look at all the ‘friends’ that Cassidy boasted of an association with, the professors and writers who provided glowing reviews for his crazy book.

  1. Requires excessive admiration.

There is a term in the literature about narcissism which is quite useful – the notion of narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, unlike the eponymous Narcissus, real narcissists do not content themselves with hanging around in woods gazing longingly at their own reflection in a limpid pool. Fans and admirers are the mirror these people require. Their followers are simply the cannon-fodder in the narcissist’s ongoing war against reality. The flip-side of this is that the narcissist gets really angry when they are challenged, which is known as narcissistic rage.

For an example of narcissistic rage, here’s Cassidy holding forth through a sock-puppet identity in response to critics of his idiocies about the word jazz: “You do not own the word “jazz” (teas) on Wikipedia or anywhere else. You are not balancing anything. Your article is replete with inaccuaracies and distortions. It is an embarassemnt. The attempt to marginalize Daniel Cassidy’s pioneering work on the word “jazz” and hundreds of other American vernacular words and phrases in his new book How the Irish Invented Slang: the Secret language of the Crossroads is pathetic. Cassidy’s book has been hailed by scores of respected academics, journalists, writers, and Irish language scholars, since its publication 3 months ago. See the Irish Times, The Irish Independent, The Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, The Derry Journal, RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, and Irish language publications like La Nua, Beo, and Foinse, as well as American media, including ABC radio, KPFA, WBAI, the SF Chronicle, and NY Observer,and this is just in the first weeks after publication. I shall continue to put up the Irish sanas of jazz. These last feeble attempts to censor Cassidy’s work are laughably pathetic. Let’s put it to mediation. I will provide 20 PUBLISHED articles supporting Cassidy’s thesis. All you have are the same old white boy cronies and Anglophile dictionary dudes.”

  1. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

Yes, taking a job as a professor when you don’t have a degree, don’t speak Irish and have never published anything of any value certainly suggests a sense of entitlement.

  1. Is inter-personally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.

Did Cassidy ever stop to ask himself whether all the people who quoted his shit would be humiliated or shamed by their association with him? Probably not, but plainly these people were all used and exploited by Cassidy.

  1. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

How about this from his sister Susan? “He just believed that he was so much smarter than everyone else that no one would dare to question him. I certainly would have never questioned him because he would have been so abusive. I spent most of my life just listening to his bullshit.”

  1. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

Cassidy continually scoffed at the dictionary dudes and the genuine academics who wouldn’t play according to his rules. For example, here’s one of his comments, given under yet another sock-puppet identity: “Zwicky has no books published on etymology, slang, or Irish, while Barrett is just a shill for the Oxford Dictionary which publishes his barely selling boring slang dictionaries. I agree with the reviewer above. The Anglophile neo-conservative lexicographers got caught with their English knickers down on Irish language influence on American vernacular and now they are piling on Cassidy with ad hominem attacks.”

  1. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

As his sister said: He really thought he was so much smarter than everyone–a real egomaniac with an inferiority complex–that’s why he always barked at anyone who dared to question him.

The evidence that Cassidy was a total narcissist is very strong. Certainly much, much stronger than any of the evidence for the Irish derivation of slang Cassidy provided in his ridiculous book.

Mad, Bad or Very, Very Stupid?

This is a question that has bothered me a lot. Was Daniel Cassidy (author of How the Irish Invented Slang) insane, was he consciously  and deliberately dishonest, or was he too stupid to know the difference between real research and idiotic speculation?

It is a tricky one. While there is quite a lot of evidence that Cassidy was a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, I don’t think we can say that he was completely insane. He managed to write the book and talk at public meetings with a semblance of rationality. His view of the world might have been very strange, but he wasn’t a carpet-chewing crazy.

There is also clear evidence that he was dishonest. He added entire phrases to definitions to make them accord more closely with what he wanted. He adopted unconvincing sock-puppet identities to attack his critics. However, I also get the impression that he actually believed that his ‘research’ was largely right.

Cassidy was certainly stupid. He lacked any knowledge of the Irish language or of linguistics and his conclusions show an astounding inability to think, or to distinguish between bullshit and reality.

So, which is it: mad, bad or stupid? In a sense, I think Cassidy was all three. I never met him, so I am judging purely on the basis of his public persona, but he reminds me of a lot of news stories about people with narcissistic personality disorders, fantasist con-men with an appetite for publicity, an inflated sense of their own importance, the capacity to believe in their own spiel as if it were the truth, an ability to charm and manipulate, and a tendency to turn very nasty when criticised or crossed.