Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Psychology of Karen: How willful blindness and self-righteousness lead to crazy behaviors

In 2020, the name "Karen" became a pejorative, meaning a probably white woman acting in an extremely socially inappropriate manner. The name Karen is now the embodiment of "white entitledness" usually a white female in her 40's wearing a particular shorter haircut. (note: the male version is often named "Chad")

But Karen is real. Earlier in 2020, Amy Cooper was dubbed New York's "Central Park Karen" when she called the police and claimed a black man threatened her life. In reality, a bird-watcher (who happens to be black, also surnamed Cooper, no relations) asked her to leash her dog in a leash zone in Central Park. If not for him recording the encounter on his phone, "Karen" false accusations may have resulted in him going to jail. 

Many "Karen" tales appeared on in the various "TalesFrom______" subreddits where "a wild Karen appeared" usually preceded by "ahem!". "Karen" then starts making outrageous demands of another person with words such as, "you were moving inventory, you MUST work here! Why don't you serve me? Get off your lazy *** or I'll get you fired!" The story then diverges, but often involving either Karen physically attack the narrator for ignoring her, or summons a manager to deal with the "rude employee". "Karen" then started to embellish the story in her own retelling, claiming to have been attacked by the narrator. The ending may feature "Karen" getting her comeuppance at the hands of either security guard or police. 

Many of which are obviously fictional, but they are rather popular tales. They SOUND plausible. And in the case of Amy Cooper, they actually do exist.  All because Mr. Cooper asked her to leash her dog (that she was supposed to), Amy Cooper called the police to report that an "African American man" threatened her life. It was documented by her 911 call. When the story went viral, Amy Cooper was fired from her job and surrendered her dog, her life basically ruined.  

But what was she thinking? How could she justify her outrageous behavior, even go as far as making a false report to the police? And if a seemingly normal white person can do that... who else is capable of this? And how many other black people or other minorities have suffered from this sort of false reporting in the past? It is an extremely disturbing thought. 

To figure out what a "Karen" was thinking, we need to dive into the mind of a narcissist.