Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Definition of Alpha

Here's the accepted definition of Alpha, the one I dismiss because it is close to being the clinical definition of a narcissist:

"Alpha: The alpha is the tall, good-looking guy who is the center of both male and female attention. The classic star of the football team who is dating the prettiest cheerleader. The successful business executive with the beautiful, stylish, blonde, size zero wife. All the women are attracted to him, while all the men want to be him, or at least be his friend. At a social gathering like a party, he's usually the loud, charismatic guy telling self-flattering stories to a group of attractive women who are listening with interest. However, alphas are only interested in women to the extent that they exist for the alpha's gratification, physical and psychological, they are actually more concerned with their overall group status."

Whoever created this definition is, as far as I'm concerned, projecting his own mental/emotional disturbances into it.

A narcissist is not something you want to be.

From Wikipedia: "Persons diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder are characterized by unwarranted feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behavior. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy for others. These qualities are usually defenses against a deep feeling of inferiority and of being unloved."

Narcissists fail to recognize other people's feelings, take advantage of others, and express disdain for those the feel are inferior - which to them is almost everyone.

As I've said before, feelings of humiliation and and insecurity covered up by bluster.

The Greeks noticed a sequence about the narcissistic: Hubris followed by Nemesis. The Hebrews had different words but otherwise it was the same: "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."

The two most influential men who studied narcissism are Otto Kernberg and Heinz Kohut. And I will again say that anyone who speaks of the "Dark Triad" and supports it in anyway, without knowing who Kernberg and Kohut are, is only making a fool of himself.

Here is my definition of an Alpha, in as succinct terms as possible: confident, competent, compassionate, with a sense of humor. If you want to expand it a bit, he seeks eudaimonia (flourishing/well-being) through arete (excellence). And he gets that excellence through confidence and competence (the mastery of whatever he's good at doing).

As for those who wonder why I include "compassionate" as a characteristic of an Alpha, here is why:

Joseph Wambaugh, the ex-cop and best-selling novelist, wrote in The Choirboys the best police officers are working-class, with a sense of humor and compassion.

Compassion means "co-suffering." Narcissists of whatever kind (narcissist, borderline, psychopath) cannot "co-suffer" because to them people are not totally real. They are things to be manipulated for the narcissist's needs. It's called "narcissistic supply."

I have met people without a sense of humor. Almost always they lack compassion. I therefore conclude that a sense of humor can barely exist without compassion. After all, what is humor about? Essentially, making fun of the problems in life. As Christopher Hitchens put it, "I don't think it's possible to have a sense of tragedy without having a sense of humor."

The shortest definition of an Alpha is one who exhibits "amused mastery." See where I'm going? To master something you have to be confident and competent - and a sense of humor that allows you to be amused by most things.

The accepted definition of an Alphas is someone who will never be satisfied no matter much how he has, and as such, will never be grateful for anything, and to anyone. That's why you never read the words "satisfaction" or "love" or "gratitude" in any of the blogs that extolls the wonders of the Alpha/Narcissist/Cad.

4 comments:

marlon said...

The alpha admirers want to be heartless, Bob...but they can't make it so they become greater betas, sigmas or somewhere else on the Greek scale.

Yet heart matters, and there is so little of it in this world.

Bob Wallace said...

Yes, heartless. Good word. I didn't think of it. I will use it from now on.

Quartermain said...

My definition:

A colossal jerk with a delusion of grandeur.

Bob Wallace said...

Yes. Heartless with delusions of grandeur.