Paris Hilton’s Self-Portrait: A Disturbing Sketch of Narcissistic Needs

Paris Hilton Leaving Jail

Paris Released from Jail

Back to Being a Simple Celebutante

As soon as Paris Hilton got out of jail on Tuesday, she immediately plunged into the arduous task of being Paris Hilton, summoning a hair-salon van and by her very presence creating a huge traffic jam that angered surrounding neighbors.  It seems that Hilton’s plans to serve God in some way, perhaps by creating a halfway house for former ex-convicts like herself, will have to wait at least a day while she readjusts to the simple life of fame and celebrity.

The transition back to her persona of “celebutante” started hours earlier when she was let out of jail shortly after midnight in the seedy section of Lynwood.  Hilton managed to transform the event into almost the equivalent of a red-carpet arrival.  With photographers’ cameras flashing, she made her so-called “perp walk” from the jail to a waiting SUV while smiling, waving and strutting past the assembled, huddled masses wearing tight jeans and tottering on white stiletto heels.

A “Simple Sketch” for TMZ

TMZ reported earlier that before Paris Hilton was released from jail, her lawyer had slipped Harvey Levin a personalized sketch of herself.  The drawing is a somewhat infantile self-portrait of Hilton near a pay phone inside the jail, showing her in jail-issued fatigues.

Two Reptiles Talking

It is, of course, no simple coincidence that Paris had the sketch “slipped” to Harvey Levin, TMZ’s Anchor and Managing Editor.  After the bidding fiasco for a post-jail interview with Hilton left both NBC and ABC in an extremely embarrassing situation, both networks ended up abruptly dropping their preliminary plans for a Hilton interview.  At that point, CNN leaped at the chance to schedule an interview for Hilton with Larry King on Wednesday night.  Further, TMZ has so dominated the coverage on Paris that Larry King is turning over tonight’s one-hour show to TMZ’s Harvey Levin, the man who The New York Times suggests may represent the future of celebrity journalism.  In that light, Hilton’s seemingly “cute” little sketch, which just happened to include a television set tuned in to Levin hosting The Larry King Show, is yet another publicity ploy on Hilton’s part.

TMZ’s Howard Levin

Paris Hilton’s Narcisisstic Sketch

Unfortunately, Hilton’s little sketch may tell us more about psychological functioning than I think she would ever intentionally reveal.  Such drawings can be a useful projective reference for hypotheses about a person’s psychological functioning (Buck, 1948, 1969; Rappaport, Gill & Schafer, 1946; Groth-Marnat, 1997), although optimally they should be included as part of a wider range of assessment tools.  Nevertheless, from a projective assessment perspective, some details of Hilton’s drawing do seem to be congruent with certain indicators of notably disturbed psychological functioning.

Paris Hilton’s Self-Portrait

In particular, the sketch is reminiscent of particular features of narcissistic traits, including the presentation of a socially acceptable facade based almost solely upon attributes of physical beauty and a glamorous lifestyle, a symbiotic preoccupation with self-as-actor in an illusional life played out upon an ever-changing media stage, and intense longings for the fulfillment of primary narcissistic mirroring transference needs.

Specific details that could be noted in the drawing include the presentation of the socially glamorous facade, which is in contrast to, or conflicts with, a strong tendency to be evasive about revealing what she’s really like (hands drawn hidden behind her).  The eyes are emphasized, yet at the same time they are glaringly empty and might well reflect a painfully barren internal sense of self.  The mouth is emphasized, often an indication of a wish for fulfillment of early needs for emotional nurturance.  In this case, it might reflect a sense of her psychological hunger for publicity or public attention (the television set in the background), which is in turn a transformation of strong narcissistic mirroring needs.  Paris only feels alive to the extent that she can see others seeing her.

Developing…More detailed discussion to follow….

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