In pop-culture parlance, it's known as "the Jimmy" -- the odd conversational quirk of referring to yourself in the third person, named after the "Seinfeld" character who bragged about his basketball skills as if he was his own biggest fan. "Oh yeah, Jimmy played pretty good."
Professional sports and politics are full of real-life Jimmys, outsized personalities with the offputting habit of talking about themselves by name. Senator Bob Dole was mocked relentlessly on "Saturday Night Live" for his Bob Dole-isms. LeBron James, defending his controversial move from his hometown Cleveland to the Miami Heat, famously said, "I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James... to make him happy."
The United States has a "Jimmy in Chief." President Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to himself as "Trump" or "Donald Trump" in debates, interviews, and of course, tweets. Dismissing the allegations of collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential elections, Trump tweeted in 2017: "Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?"
Which prompted this reaction from author J.K. Rowling.
The real term for talking about yourself in the third person is illeism, and every armchair psychologist has a theory for why certain celebrities are rabid illeists. The easiest explanation is ego. Essentially, their ego gets so big and inflated that it takes on a life of its own. Same for narcissism. These folks love themselves so much that they need to address the object of their affection by name.
But the truth is that no substantial research has been done on the question of why some A-list athletes, actors and politicians can't keep their own name out of their mouth. Interestingly, though, there is convincing evidence that regular folks like you and me can actually boost our self-confidence through the simple trick of thinking of ourselves in the third person.
Ethan Kross is a psychology professor at the University of Michigan where he runs the Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory. Kross studies the ways in which people regulate their emotions, including the handy trick of psychological distancing, taking a step back from intense anger or pain to think about the situation as an objective outsider.
"What we've learned is that language provides people with a tool to distance themselves psychologically," says Kross, "including language that many people use spontaneously without even thinking about it."