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Quizzes & Categories

Bringing curiosity & playfulness to the darkest of topics…

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Hi friend,

I recently watched a video about the 6 different types of narcissism, and found myself fascinated. 

The topic of narcissism is interesting to me for a variety of reasons, both personal and professional, and one of my all-time favorite podcast episodes is actually all about it!

Photo of Jessica Engle
Jessica Engle

For anyone interested, the video was of a clip from an interview with Doctor Ramani, author of It's Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People, and the host of the Navigating Narcissism podcast. (You can watch the whole interview here if you’re interested!)

I found the video so interesting because, despite having read quite a few books about narcissism, narcissists, and narcissistic abuse, I’d never heard someone break down what Dr. Rami called the “six different types of narcissism.”

Generally speaking, I’m not a big believer in rigid or binary labels and categories. 

It’s very tempting to imagine that you either are something, or you’re not; that you’re either this kind of person or that. We humans prefer to see the world in black and white, as if everything (and everyone) could be broken down into clear, distinct, and unchangeable categories because life would be simpler and more manageable if that was true!

It would be a lot easier if a person was either good or bad; abusive or kind; a monster or an angel. This is why it’s so upsetting and confusing when we find out bad stuff about someone we’ve put on a pedestal! (Speaking of which–and speaking about narcissistic abuse– have you heard about Andrew Huberman of the popular Huberman Lab Podcast?? Whew.)

Anyway, nuance is harder to hold than binaries, and it can be difficult to process the fact that we all contain multitudes (including the capacity for both good and evil), we’re all constantly changing and evolving, and nearly every quality and characteristic exists on a spectrum, rather than inside a clearly defined box. 

That said, sometimes having enigmatic concepts broken down into specific labels and categories can be incredibly healing, and valuable, because they help us organize and process our experiences, and invite self-compassion and acceptance! 

Being able to see things laid out this way can often help us understand that we make sense—that we’re not broken or wrong, and we’re not weird or alone in our experiences as we might have previously thought—because clearly there were enough other people out there for this label or category to exist! 

This is why it can be so validating, affirming, and relieving to see yourself and your experiences outlined in a chart, test, or list. (Think of how much better someone might feel about themselves when they discover they’re not weird or bad after all, they’re just an introvert, or an Enneagram Type 1, or a person with ADHD!)

All of this is to say that I’m a bit skeptical when someone takes a nuanced concept that exists on a continuum, like narcissism, and turns it into a set of categories and labels. I hate to think the very same concepts intended to facilitate healing or liberation could get turned into dogma and oppression: just another set of restrictive boxes into which we try to squish ourselves, or another set of externally enforced “rules to live and die by.” But as I watched the video, I found myself getting excited!

For each type of narcissist Dr. Ramani defined, and gave examples for, I felt myself immediately try to find someone who fit the category. It was fascinating to see how enthusiastically and delightedly my mind embraced the labels and categories it was being offered, almost like I was playing a game!

On a walk later, I told my partner about the video, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable conversation speculating who we might know in each category, who might be a mix of more than one, and to what degree each person “qualified.” 

In reflecting on this experience, I certainly felt like I had learned something valuable about myself, my experiences, and some key players in my life, but it was more than just “helpful.” 

It was (dare I say it?) fun

I realize that might seem like a weird word to use, given the subject matter, but it’s true– I found the process of putting people into boxes very pleasurable and satisfying, like solving a particularly enjoyable puzzle. I was excited to share what I’d discovered with my partner, and it was very entertaining for us to try out different people in each category to see who fit. 

To be honest, I think this is actually one of the biggest benefits to these kinds of categorizing and labeling systems: it can take painful, heavy, scary, or dark topics that we might otherwise shy away from facing, and make exploring them feel fun.

This was actually one of the main reasons I created the four Body Image Avatars!

It can be incredibly hard to face the underlying reason your body image issues exist, because those underlying reasons tend to be unpleasantly dark, painful, or threatening. Even if your body image issues themselves are distressing and painful, some part of your mind recognizes that thinking about food, fitness, or how you look must be easier than looking at whatever is underneath it.

By breaking those underlying reasons into tangible and distinct categories, and creating a quiz to help you locate yourself and your experiences, I’m inviting a different part of your mind to come online. 

Instead of the root causes for your body image issues being kept behind lock and key by the part of your mind focused only on your protection and survival, taking the avatars quiz turns them over to the part of you who delights in categorizing things and solving puzzles. And when that part of you—the part who is innately curious and play-oriented—joins the party, suddenly facing that stuff doesn’t feel so scary!

Want to see what I mean??

Graphic for a Quiz

Until now, the only way to take the 4 Body Image Avatars quiz was to either read my book BODY NEUTRAL: A Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Body Image Issues, or take my self-study course The Body Neutrality Blueprint. 

I’ve decided to share it publicly now, because I know how hard it can be to get yourself to look at the underlying reasons you struggle with body image issues when you’re in self-protection mode, and I believe the avatars have the power to bring a sense of levity, curiosity, or even playfulness into that otherwise dark and scary process.

Ready to get your results?

Big hug,


PS: If the quiz helps you feel ready to finally dig deep and overcome your body image issues, you can always apply for private coaching with me here!

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