Is Infowars founder and chief meatball Alex Jones actually a performance artist “playing a character,” a “number one meme” who’s taking us all for a ride? We may never know. What we do know, however, is that he’s a shitty father, a weed scholar, and a supposed sexual dynamo, having bagged “probably 150 women” by the age of 16 (hear that, Wilt Chamberlain?). Oh, and he also likes to take off his shirt.
Just why exactly Jones likes to bare his beefy, barrel chest remains a mystery—a profile in Der Spiegel says he pops that top “without explanation”—so New York magazine sought some outside counsel. In their conversations with four psychology experts, two opposing themes emerge. In their estimation, Jones is either a gorilla puffing his chest as a means of intimidation or he’s a wildly passionate man who knows no other way to express his depth of feeling.
What’s more likely, however, is this analysis from psychotherapist John D. Gartner:
I think Alex Jones shares a diagnosis of malignant narcissism. First of all, taking off your shirt is exhibitionistic, so that’s the narcissistic component. But at the same time, he’s doing it as an act of aggression. It’s not like a striptease, it’s like a “fuck you! You’re gonna be forced to look at this and I’m dominating you by making you do that.” It’s a power play, but it’s a very narcissistic one. A malignant narcissist, they have four components: they’re narcissistic, they’re antisocial, they’re paranoid, and they’re sadistic.
In that one act, he’s combining all of those impulses: It’s a self-exposure, but it’s also dominating other people, it’s throwing you off balance.
For people who are narcissistic, exhibitionism has its own intrinsic pleasure. It is a “look at me, look at me, look at me” disorder, so at some level you do want people to look at you. But I think when people have this malignant narcissism, that has such a strong component of sadism and aggression. It’s like “look at me,” but it’s a “look at me” that belittles and degrades the people who are looking at them.
That sounds about right.