BHSU professor explores narcissism through the backdrop of Dr. Who in Geek Speak lecture

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, February 8, 2016/Categories: 2016

Dr. Jeffrey Wehrung

Donald Trump's quote, "Show me someone without an ego, and I'll show you a loser," sets a good example of what narcissism is, however the topic itself holds more complexity, which will be discussed at the next Black Hills State University Geek Speak lecture.

Dr. Jeffrey Wehrung, assistant professor of management at BHSU, will examine how narcissism can affect an individual's leadership and ethical behavior, taking the character of Dr. Who, a British science fiction character produced by BBC, as an example. Wehrung's presentation, "The Narcissistic Doctor?  Leadership, Ethics, and Dr. Who" is Thursday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110. The event is free and open to the public.

"Overconfidence is a sub-trait under narcissism. Someone who is narcissistic is by definition both overconfident in their abilities and also entitled in the way that they feel they deserve more than others," said Wehrung. "To be a narcissist you need to have both characteristics. People mistakenly confuse overconfidence with narcissism."

During the presentation, Wehrung will first analyze Dr. Who's behaviors and then work backwards from his behaviors to his personality traits, answering the question of whether Dr. Who is a narcissist or not, or whether he is just very overconfident or also entitled.

Wehrung picked Dr. Who to analyze in the Geek Speak lecture stemming from his dissertation on overconfidence and entitlement as two characteristics of narcissism. Dr. Who, who Wehrung said is often perceived as narcissistic, always takes the position of being the center of the Earth, and he thinks people should default to him as a leader in any situation.

"I am not a fan of using just the term 'narcissist,' because you can get so much deeper in understanding somebody. Dr. Who is obviously overconfident, but he is usually successful and in terms of entitlement you don't imagine Dr. Who as a very entitled individual," added Wehrung.

According to Wehrung, the decisions we make are driven by our personality or by the context we're in. Many science fiction characters are carefully analyzed by their fandom (kingdom of fans) and what we see often depends on what we're looking for.

"After examining the Doctor's behavior we will determine whether his narcissistic tendencies are a benefit or hindrance to himself, his companions, the earth, and even time itself," added Wehrung.

Wehrung said he wishes people wouldn't jump to conclusions so fast when saying someone is a narcissist as there is a lot of baggage that comes with that label. The lecture presents an opportunity to talk about the concept of narcissism and see its beneficial effects.

Future Geek Speak topics include:
  • Feb. 18, " 'Preaching to the Nerves Instead of the Judgment': The Victorian Sensation Novel,'" Dr. Martin Fashbaugh
  • Feb. 25, "Biblically Speaking: Sin and the Role of Women in the Christian New Testament," Dr. Amy Fuqua
  • March 3, "Draw Something!" Desy Shoenewies
  • March 17, "Not Just a Cheesy Monster Movie: the Multiple Meanings of Godzilla," Dr. Tom Arnold
  • March 31, "On Hip Hop and Religion," Dr. Dan May
  • April 7, "Can Religion and Science Get Along? Sure, but should they?" Dr. Nate Deichert
  • April 14, "A Tour of Voting Systems: How Do We Choose a Winner?" Dr. Dan Swenson
  • April 21, "The Social Life of Meat," Dr. Trenton Ellis
  • April 28, The University Honors Program Capstone Defense

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines.

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English at 605-642-6918 or email Courtney.HuseWika@BHSU.edu.

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