|Narcissism is the tendency to think very highly of oneself and have no or little regard for others / Photo by: rawpixel via 123RF|
Narcissism is the tendency to think very highly of oneself and have no or little regard for others. It is a kind of trait that gets a negative view from others because it is generally perceived as a negative force that is something to be avoided and feared. New research, however, reveals that people with grandiose narcissism traits have a greater mental toughness and are less vulnerable to depression and stress. This is according to a study conducted by a team of researchers from the UK-based Queen’s University Belfast, University of Milano-Bicocca, and Huddersfield University.
The Two Dimensions of Narcissism
The researchers explained the two dimensions of narcissism: the vulnerable and the grandiose. Vulnerable narcissists are people who are more defensive and view others’ behavior as hostile. On the other hand, grandiose narcissists often have an inflated sense of importance and tend to overestimate his or her capabilities.
Although narcissism is perceived by the society as a negative trait, such a personality may have evolutionary benefits, the researchers said. Queen’s University Belfast’s Director of the InteRRaCt Lab in the School of Psychology Dr. Kostas Papageorgiou explained that narcissism is a part of the Dark Tetrad or triad personality.
In psychology, the dark triad also includes psychopathy and Machiavellianism. People scoring high on these “dark” traits are more likely to cause social distress, create severe problems for an organization, and more likely to commit crimes. In the team’s research, though, they promote inclusiveness and diversity of ideas and people by advocating that even dark traits should not be seen as either bad or good but just a product of expressions and evolution of human nature that may be harmful or beneficial depending on its context.
If narcissism is so “socially toxic”, how come the personality is on the rise in the modern days and persists? the team asked.
The Positive Sides of Narcissism
The team studied over 700 adults and found the positive sides of narcissism, including resilience against psychopathology - the scientific study of mental disorders. Grandiose narcissism helps a person offset signs of depression. Those who scored high on grandiose narcissism were likely to view their lives as less stressful, mental health resource Psych Central reports.
Their personality trait also correlates with other positive elements of mental toughness, including goal orientation, confidence, protecting against perceived stress and symptoms of depression. Dr. Papageorgiou added that if the person is mentally tough, they are more likely to face their challenges head and not focus on thinking of them as a hurdle. Although not every dimension of narcissism personality is good, there are some aspects that can lead to positive results. Furthermore, a little bit of such a personality may be a helpful tool when someone is faced with a stressful situation. “It’s a bit like having the ability to run when walking is not enough,” Dr. Papageorgiou added.
|Their personality trait also correlates with other positive elements of mental toughness, including goal orientation, confidence, protecting against perceived stress and symptoms of depression / Photo by: belchonock via 123RF|
The Personality to Protect People From Needless Pressure
He explained that their research does not promote grandiosity over modesty and healthy self-esteem. They view personality as a “key” to protect people from needless pressure. The group concluded that just because most of us don’t understand narcissists, that doesn’t mean that they should be marginalized. They encourage people to celebrate all aspects of people’s personalities and work out the best way to utilize them for personal benefit and society as a whole instead of demonizing these parts.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Statistics
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is present in about 0.5 percent of the general US population. NPD manifests by young adulthood and may worsen in middle or old age, according to medical information platform for clinicians Medscape. The disorder is more commonly found in males than in females as, among those diagnosed with NPD, approximately 75 percent are male. While everyone may have narcissistic traits to a certain degree, the diagnosis of NPD is determined through clinical evaluation. The normal amount of narcissism helps people find joy in their personal life and take pride in their accomplishments.
The prevalence of NPD is higher in some demographics. Two to six percent of people with NPD seek help from mental health clinics. The personality disorder is also found in 6 percent of forensic analysts, 20 percent of people in the military, and 17 percent of first-year medical students.
The American Psychological Association details the guidelines in diagnosing NPD when they interview a patient. They usually rely on the following: need for admiration, sense of entitlement, tendency to exploit others, arrogant behavior, lack of empathy for others, belief of being unique, high, or special status, fantasies about success, power, beauty, or having an idealized vision of love, and a pervasive pattern of grandiosity. For example, they make themselves appear impressive. People with the said disorder spend a significant amount of their time comparing themselves to other people and often fantasize about being exceptionally successful in their careers. Treating NPD can be challenging as patients often believe they have a problem that needs treatment.