Narcissism: I Love Me
Thu, April 22, 2021

Narcissism: I Love Me

For centuries, people have been intrigued by narcissism, which social scientists claim is considered a modern epidemic today / Photo by: Flotsam via Shutterstock

 

For centuries, people have been intrigued by narcissism, which social scientists claim is considered a modern epidemic today. Narcissism can be traced to a legend that originated 2,000 years ago when the beautiful Greek hunter Narcissus fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water. He became so obsessed with his beauty that he could not leave his image and stayed there until he died. It was said that a narcissus flower grew where he lay.

Kostas Papageorgiou, director of the InteRRaCt Lab in the School of Psychology at Queen's University, said that everyone has a little bit of narcissism in them and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Popularized by famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, narcissism is the predisposition to behave for the most part in a self-centered fashion. There is total disregard for the feelings and needs of others. Narcissists view other individuals as mere objects for manipulation. Narcissism is closely linked to traits like grandiosity, a sense of superiority and entitlement.

According to Keith Campbell, American social psychologist and a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Georgia, and colleagues, narcissism can constructively be looked at from three different points of view: the self, the interpersonal, and the strategies for self-regulation.

The self-view is portrayed by feeling unique and special, a sense of entitlement and a determination to control others. As such, because of the uniqueness of the self, the interpersonal relationships of narcissists are represented by low empathy and compassion for others. Other individuals are used as tools to attain goals, arising to superficial and manipulative relationships. To maintain their grandiose views, narcissists put themselves in the center of attention and praise, often riding on other people’s achievements. If the strategies fail, they may resort to revenge and violence; if they succeed, they flourish and prosper to glory in life. This fairly manifests the double-edged sword of narcissism.

Narcissism is broadly classified as grandiose and vulnerable. Grandiose narcissism displays flamboyance, assertiveness, and dominance closely associated with mental toughness and success. On the other hand, vulnerable narcissism tends to be more emotionally sensitive, frequently displayed by feelings of helplessness and anxiety with challenges treated as obstacles. This is associated with distrust and negativity.

Beneficial Narcissism

 It is a normal human function to have healthy self-love and confidence based on real achievements and the ability to rise over conflicts and challenges. This mental toughness acts as a protective shield to make narcissists resilient in facing life’s pressures and burdens.

Narcissists are more likely to succeed in their work and in their social lives. Combined with their charm, they have a way with words. They are very adept at convincing others to do things their way or give them the resources they need. They advance to prominence in life because of their ability to influence.

One of the trademarks of narcissism is its unavoidable social aspect. Narcissistic individuals desire attention and admiration, they want to be high and mighty within social circles tying them completely to other people. Consequently, they strive to improve their relationships with other people. Their overconfidence makes people view them as good leaders. At the same time, they are more pliant in coping with failures.

Narcissism is also closely associated with positive social benefits, encompassing traits like assertiveness, sociability, positive emotions and sense of humor, higher IQ, and charming disposition. Narcissism also presents helpful outcomes like defense against negative memory biases, support for self-concept across high- and low-achieving peer groups, enhanced group creativity, and instant bonding success.

A little of narcissism is a useful tool when facing stressful situations, giving that extra bit of mental toughness people need to go through. It is a bit like having the ability to run when walking is not enough.

Narcissists are more likely to succeed in their work and in their social lives. Combined with their charm, they have a way with words / Photo by: Maridav via Shutterstock

 

Harmful Narcissism

Narcissism becomes a problem when the individual becomes engrossed with the self, wanting extreme appreciation and approval from others while showing indifference and contempt for other people’s sensitivities. A narcissist may turn to alcohol and drugs if desired attention is not obtained.

Narcissists have magnetic personalities and are very good at creating an awesome self-image that pulls people in. The allure of their dreams and their confidence suck people in their web, providing them with false and costly fantasies.

Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and love. Unfortunately, narcissists are not able to have genuine and reciprocal relationships. They do not see, hear, or recognize your existence outside of their own needs. They habitually infringe on the boundaries of others believing that they are entitled to do so. They go through possessions without asking, snoop through personal messages, eavesdrop and butt in on conversations, walk in without an invitation, steal ideas, and offer unwanted advice. They even have the audacity to command thoughts and feelings. These violations should be recognized as what they really are to create healthier boundaries where needs are respected.

Narcissists always deny their shortcomings, mistakes, and callous indifference. They frequently project their own faults on to others. It’s very distressing to be liable for something that’s not your fault.

Narcissists are easily driven to explosive rage in situations that threaten them. This reactive anger can lead to murder.

Narcissism becomes a problem when the individual becomes engrossed with the self, wanting extreme appreciation and approval from others while showing indifference and contempt for other people’s sensitivities / Photo by: Estrada Anton via Shutterstock

 

Final Take

Psychologists and experts say narcissism should not be viewed as either good or bad but rather as evolutionary perspectives that may be beneficial and harmful depending on the context. Be vigilant then and choose your context with care.