In a Woody Allen moment, I was reading the DSM IV (the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual for mental illness) to make sure I didn't have the mental equivalent of a "tumor the size of a golf ball." But, as Woody Allen himself points out, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you, and sure enough, I've diagnosed myself with a full blown mental illness -- it's called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or, as I've renamed it, Venture Capitalitis. Of the Personality Disorders available to me (Histrionic Personility Disorder, Antisocial Pesonality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, etc.), Narcissistic Personality Disorder may be as good as mental illness gets. Which is a good thing because best I can tell NPD is running rampant on Sand Hill Road.
The DSM IV is the Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Its purpose is to assist mental health practitioners in diagnosing and differentiating among mental illnesses. Accordingly, it takes the form of a list of diagnostic criteria which, if met in sufficient numbers by a particular person, indicates that that individual has the particular mental disorder in question. The diagnostic criteria for NPD are telling. NPD is diagnosed by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts," -- sounds like VCitis already doesn't it. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is "indicated by five (or more) of the following:"
1) Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2) Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3) Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4) Requires excessive admiration.
5) Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
6) Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
7) Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8) Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9) Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Now I don't mean to be critical of my brethren in the Venture Capital industry, nor of myself for that matter, but tell me if that doesn't hit the nail on the head. Forget about meeting 5 of the criteria. How about 8 or 9? This Web 2.0 stuff is all well and good but I can tell you what my next investment will be in -- a mental health facility on Sand Hill Road.