10

votes

Can paleo cause personality disorders?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 26, 2011 at 6:17 PM

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:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-success-story-2/

And then there's Jack's comment over on Free the Animal (this is Richard's "Penis Post"):

http://freetheanimal.com/2011/07/penis-enlargement-lose-weight.html

Highly entertaining.

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?

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 28, 2011
at 05:11 AM

I meant to add after that last sentence that "personality disorder" wasn't the correct term for what this question is getting at, but I can see how your average person would think it was.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 28, 2011
at 04:35 AM

I sort of agree. My father has NPD so my first reaction was "NPD is SO much worse, and more damaging to other people, than just vanity and being self-absorbed" but I still think the OP poses an interesting question. Most people aren't really familiar with personality disorders.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:02 PM

In addition Partik, even though you have a more relaxed definition of Paleo, I would say that a lot of the books that people come across on Paleo are not so liberal in their definition. Paleo, for such people, is lots of meat, fat and some vegetabels FULL-STOP. That was my first encounter with Paleo, and I can see from the posts of lots of newbies here, that is their orginal orientation.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:00 PM

Patrik, I am not targeting Paleo exclusively, so please don't be defensive. Just about any diet or, for that matter, just about any group human endeavor lends itself to dogma. You see people go low carb, vegan or whatever and sometimes the consequences are bad. Yet, people will cling to the dogma, despite the obvious results. I am saying absolutely nothing new. Cognitive Dissonance is certainly at play in CERTAIN individuals who practice Paleo, just as it is at play in people who go vegan, take up long distance running, or you name it.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:29 PM

I agree with both of you, it is never just the added change... It is the change added to the original system that makes up the new state.

86e631c6164bfdf4221434e2d38125b3

(414)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:27 PM

BTW, I could have lived happily ever after without seeing the penis post!

86e631c6164bfdf4221434e2d38125b3

(414)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:26 PM

I really like the success stories that aren't just about losing a ton of weight. When someone is looking for health-related answers, and finds that Paleo/Primal helps them feel betterthan they thought they could, I think it adds to the idea that this isn't just a diet. It's a way of eating for life that can help you maintain optimum health.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:22 PM

Very well put...

351cbf133b44fb7a1b90781e148d28d7

(597)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:16 PM

Agreed, particularly the bit about people going into a diet, expecting a one-size-fits-all, magic pill.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 27, 2011
at 05:24 AM

What dogma, Thomas? Please be specific.

016de26fe61daf799662d3b7b2468324

(688)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:06 AM

Love it. Well put. +1

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 27, 2011
at 02:04 AM

@wjones3044 - I just re-read your question. I totally missed your last line. I retract my answer below. Having a penis hard enough to crack walnuts on is not narcissism, it is an evolutionary advantage critical to the reproductive survival of our species. It's in "On the Origin of Species" - look it up, page 238.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 27, 2011
at 01:17 AM

I've never done it with a raccoon, but I'm sure it's Paleo, right?

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:58 AM

No matter the group that people belong, they have a tendency to believe they are better than the others. It's called illusory superiority. See ex-smokers, vegans, and paleo dieters (like me) for great examples.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:48 AM

I'm here for health reasons only, but I welcome the extreme vain people. You're all hot! Can I get some numbers? Thanks ;)

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:30 PM

So much agreement with that third paragraph especially. It frustrates me a lot to see that attitude on paleohacks.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:16 PM

Much wisdom here, o sage one.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 26, 2011
at 09:48 PM

I love it when a guy's self assessment is "I'm huge and in awe". Yeah, you're huge...in metric. What a dick - pun intended!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 26, 2011
at 09:38 PM

I love it when a guy's self assessment is "I'm huge and in awe". Yeah, I'm huge...in metric. What a dick - pun intended!

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 26, 2011
at 08:38 PM

If you ever want to observe some hard core personality disorders check out the archives of old newsgroups. Scary.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 26, 2011
at 08:36 PM

And quite probably NPDs post more often, because every thought they have is precious. Which certainly does not mean that frequent posters have NPD. *worries and runs off to check post count*

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 26, 2011
at 08:34 PM

I agree, it seems to be a disorder of all online forums. Either there are more people on forums with NPD than in offline life, or (my suspicion) NPDs are easier to spot online because anonymity removes some of the social restraints.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:38 PM

Good point. Agreed. Either way, it's not the diet itself, ya?

91d422b073139d35e0856967ba1c21d6

(1054)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:35 PM

I was only mildly disgusted until I got to the part about how all Jack does now 24/7 is have sex with his 24-year-old girlfriend. Then the gag reflex kicked in. Great opportunity to IF for the rest of the day!

91d422b073139d35e0856967ba1c21d6

(1054)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:34 PM

I was only mildly disgusted until I got to the part about how all Jack dpes now 24/7 is have sex with his 24-year-old girlfriend. Then the gag reflex kicked in. Great opportunity to IF for the rest of the day!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:15 PM

Or rather - does the person have a mental disorder in the first place that contributes to taking the diet to an extreme? Otherwise, totally agree with you here.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:07 PM

Guilty I am +1...

5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:03 PM

Wow....just wow.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:02 PM

hahhahahahhahahah! C'mon now, you see those emails I send to you mods.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 26, 2011
at 06:58 PM

Is it a disorder when you ask strangers to hack your wife's vag? I hope not!!!!

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:51 PM

Oh Patrick! Are you having a bad week? ;P

E5a41bcb2819c818cc0d92489e7c35f2

(300)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:38 PM

I completely agree with Olivia. I had a conversation with a friend of mine, talking about the sort of people who are attracted to a paleo lifestyle versus a vegan lifestyle. One of the (THEORETICAL) baselines for we saw was that both types wanted a lifestyle that was "better" and more natural and healthy than the average person. However, the vegan wanted a lifestyle that was better by being (in their view) more ethical; the paleo peson wanted to be fitter, stronger, and more robust. This is a vast oversimplification, of course, but I think it does explain something about Paleo people.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:32 PM

Yep. I can't look away.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:30 PM

+1 very well articulated.

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:30 PM

I'm really happy for Jack, but that gave me the heebie-jeebies and I'd like some brain-bleach please!

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11 Answers

23
2c8c421cf0e0c462654c7dc37f8b9711

(2729)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:31 PM

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.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:58 AM

No matter the group that people belong, they have a tendency to believe they are better than the others. It's called illusory superiority. See ex-smokers, vegans, and paleo dieters (like me) for great examples.

19
D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 26, 2011
at 06:28 PM

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?

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 26, 2011
at 08:34 PM

I agree, it seems to be a disorder of all online forums. Either there are more people on forums with NPD than in offline life, or (my suspicion) NPDs are easier to spot online because anonymity removes some of the social restraints.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:32 PM

Yep. I can't look away.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 26, 2011
at 08:38 PM

If you ever want to observe some hard core personality disorders check out the archives of old newsgroups. Scary.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 26, 2011
at 08:36 PM

And quite probably NPDs post more often, because every thought they have is precious. Which certainly does not mean that frequent posters have NPD. *worries and runs off to check post count*

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:30 PM

+1 very well articulated.

13
93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:50 PM

I doubt that Paleo causes personality disorders ---- but it sure as hell attracts people with borderline personalities to it.....

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:02 PM

hahhahahahhahahah! C'mon now, you see those emails I send to you mods.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:51 PM

Oh Patrick! Are you having a bad week? ;P

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:07 PM

Guilty I am +1...

9
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 26, 2011
at 09:36 PM

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.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 27, 2011
at 05:24 AM

What dogma, Thomas? Please be specific.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:30 PM

So much agreement with that third paragraph especially. It frustrates me a lot to see that attitude on paleohacks.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:16 PM

Much wisdom here, o sage one.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:00 PM

Patrik, I am not targeting Paleo exclusively, so please don't be defensive. Just about any diet or, for that matter, just about any group human endeavor lends itself to dogma. You see people go low carb, vegan or whatever and sometimes the consequences are bad. Yet, people will cling to the dogma, despite the obvious results. I am saying absolutely nothing new. Cognitive Dissonance is certainly at play in CERTAIN individuals who practice Paleo, just as it is at play in people who go vegan, take up long distance running, or you name it.

351cbf133b44fb7a1b90781e148d28d7

(597)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:16 PM

Agreed, particularly the bit about people going into a diet, expecting a one-size-fits-all, magic pill.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:02 PM

In addition Partik, even though you have a more relaxed definition of Paleo, I would say that a lot of the books that people come across on Paleo are not so liberal in their definition. Paleo, for such people, is lots of meat, fat and some vegetabels FULL-STOP. That was my first encounter with Paleo, and I can see from the posts of lots of newbies here, that is their orginal orientation.

8
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:27 PM

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. ;)

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:29 PM

I agree with both of you, it is never just the added change... It is the change added to the original system that makes up the new state.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:15 PM

Or rather - does the person have a mental disorder in the first place that contributes to taking the diet to an extreme? Otherwise, totally agree with you here.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 26, 2011
at 07:38 PM

Good point. Agreed. Either way, it's not the diet itself, ya?

6
D226a3fd05d4962db607e352256d36d9

on July 26, 2011
at 06:44 PM

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.

016de26fe61daf799662d3b7b2468324

(688)

on July 27, 2011
at 03:06 AM

Love it. Well put. +1

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on July 27, 2011
at 12:22 PM

Very well put...

5
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 26, 2011
at 10:23 PM

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.

4
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:27 PM

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.

E5a41bcb2819c818cc0d92489e7c35f2

(300)

on July 26, 2011
at 06:38 PM

I completely agree with Olivia. I had a conversation with a friend of mine, talking about the sort of people who are attracted to a paleo lifestyle versus a vegan lifestyle. One of the (THEORETICAL) baselines for we saw was that both types wanted a lifestyle that was "better" and more natural and healthy than the average person. However, the vegan wanted a lifestyle that was better by being (in their view) more ethical; the paleo peson wanted to be fitter, stronger, and more robust. This is a vast oversimplification, of course, but I think it does explain something about Paleo people.

3
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on July 27, 2011
at 06:54 AM

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?

1
957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 28, 2011
at 04:29 AM

I agree that Paleo tends to attract those who are "smarter than the average bear". This, combined with their successful efforts and a marked contrast to their old selves may lead to a certain form of arrogance. However, we must not confused arrogance and intelligence with something like NPD.

Also, as others have pointed out, NPD exists regardless of lifestyle choices. It's a serious mental illness. I feel this thread is negating the seriousness of that.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 28, 2011
at 04:35 AM

I sort of agree. My father has NPD so my first reaction was "NPD is SO much worse, and more damaging to other people, than just vanity and being self-absorbed" but I still think the OP poses an interesting question. Most people aren't really familiar with personality disorders.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 28, 2011
at 05:11 AM

I meant to add after that last sentence that "personality disorder" wasn't the correct term for what this question is getting at, but I can see how your average person would think it was.

1
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on July 27, 2011
at 12:27 PM

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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