Messiah, King Rise in Popularity for Baby Names

If you count yourself among those Americans who believe there is only one true Messiah, you may want to speak with the parents of the 811 children who were given the increasingly popular name last year.
By JOANNA PRISCO 

If you count yourself among those Americans who believe there is only one true Messiah, you may want to speak with the parents of the 811 children who were given the increasingly popular name last year.

According to Social Security data, the name rose 246 spots on its 2012 list of the 1,000 most popular names in the United States. The spike is a reflection of a narcissistic naming trend, said Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychologist who studied the numbers for her book "Narcissism Epidemic."

"The way people parent their kids has shifted," Twenge told ABC News. "At one time there was the idea that you raise the child with the lesson that the world does not revolve around them and now we raise them that it does. This is witnessed in various ways from singing preschool songs like 'I am Special' to dressing up little girls in t-shirts that say 'Princess.'"

That particularly royal name was bestowed upon 243 girls in 2012, with 'Prince' being given to 588 boys, as recorded in the Social Security baby name index.

But 'King' outpaced both, rising 133 spots on the list to crown 1,423 little boys. It is now the 256th-most-popular name in the U.S., which may seem insignificant until you realize it beat out 'Johnathan' (1,394).

"In 2011, 'Major' was ranked number 988 and dropped to 483 on the list, which was a huge jump in popularity," said Twenge. Other significant spikes were seen for the names Maverick and Armani.

"Vanity and grandiosity are two of the subscales for narcissism and we know that the narcissism is related to materialism and an inflated sense of self. So that's why these names jumped out at me when I began looking at the data," she said, adding that it mirrors a current national preoccupation with money, power and fame.

For those who are curious, other so-called narcissistic names came in with the following tallies: Beautiful (51), Gorgeous (14), Boss (12), Amazing (11) and Awesome (6).

But there's potential bad news for those babies. Not only were their parents' self-absorbed, but they may become so too. Research suggests that giving children such names could perpetuate a cycle of narcissism.

A 2006 study published in the "Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin" titled "Narcissism and Childhood Recollections: A Quantitative Test of Psychoanalytic Predictions" stated that people who score high on a narcissism scale often agree that their parents put them on a pedestal as a child.

But is naming a baby Greatness (6) any more narcissistic than naming it after oneself?

"Naming a child after yourself has a number of elements to it," said Twenge. "Naming a child Junior or 'The Third' is a long tradition and in some ways can be seen as communalism, which is in many ways the opposite of narcissism. And it's actually the opposite of uniqueness because it means two people have the same name."
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