Narcissism is a personality trait that involves a sense of self-centeredness, self-importance, superiority, grandiosity, and entitlement. People who are narcissistic tend to have inflated views of themselves and their abilities, and they often seek admiration and validation from others. Narcissism is not the same as having high self-esteem, which is a positive and realistic evaluation of one’s value and worth. People who have high self-esteem think, “I am good.” People who are narcissistic think, “I am special,” or “I am the best.”
The Dark Side of Narcissism
Although narcissism may seem attractive or appealing at first glance, it has a dark side that can lead to negative outcomes for both the narcissist and the people around them. Research has shown that narcissism combined with high self-esteem is related to aggression and antisocial behavior. According to Psychology Today, narcissists are more likely to react with anger and hostility when they feel threatened, insulted, or criticized. They may also lash out at others who do not meet their expectations or who challenge their sense of superiority. Narcissists may also resort to violence or manipulation to get what they want or to punish those who oppose them.
Narcissists are also more likely to engage in antisocial behavior, such as cheating, lying, stealing, bullying, or exploiting others. According to Psychology Today, narcissists have a lack of empathy and compassion for others, and they often disregard the rights and feelings of others. They may also rationalize or justify their actions by blaming others or by claiming that they are entitled to special treatment. Narcissists may also have difficulties in forming and maintaining healthy and satisfying relationships, as they tend to be selfish, arrogant, demanding, and unfaithful.
The Origins of Narcissism
Narcissism is not a fixed or innate trait that one is born with. Rather, it is a result of various factors that influence one’s personality development. According to Psychology Today, some of the possible causes of narcissism include:
- Genetic factors: Some studies have suggested that narcissism may have a genetic component, as it tends to run in families.
- Environmental factors: Some studies have suggested that narcissism may be influenced by the social and cultural environment that one grows up in. For example, some researchers have argued that narcissism is more prevalent in individualistic societies that emphasize personal achievement, competition, and materialism.
- Parenting factors: Some studies have suggested that narcissism may be shaped by the type of parenting that one receives in childhood. For example, some researchers have proposed that narcissism may result from either too much or too little parental attention. Too much parental attention may involve excessive praise, admiration, or indulgence that creates a false sense of superiority and entitlement in the child. Too little parental attention may involve neglect, abuse, or rejection that creates a sense of insecurity and inadequacy in the child.
The Treatment of Narcissism
Narcissism is not a mental disorder per se, but it can be associated with other psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or personality disorders. Narcissists may also experience difficulties in their personal and professional lives due to their problematic behavior and attitudes. Therefore, some narcissists may seek or benefit from psychological treatment that can help them cope with their issues and improve their well-being.
However, treating narcissism can be challenging for several reasons. First, narcissists may not recognize or admit that they have a problem, as they tend to blame others for their difficulties or deny their negative consequences. Second, narcissists may resist or reject any feedback or criticism that challenges their inflated self-image or exposes their flaws. Third, narcissists may have unrealistic expectations or demands from the treatment process or the therapist, such as expecting quick results or special treatment.
Therefore, effective treatment for narcissism requires a careful and sensitive approach that can balance the needs and goals of both the narcissist and the therapist. According to Psychology Today, some of the possible strategies for treating narcissism include:
- Establishing a trusting and respectful therapeutic relationship that can foster rapport and collaboration between the narcissist and the therapist.
- Providing honest and constructive feedback that can help the narcissist gain insight into their behavior and its impact on themselves and others.
- Challenging the distorted beliefs and assumptions that underlie the narcissist’s sense of superiority and entitlement.
- Encouraging the development of empathy and compassion for others by helping the narcissist recognize and appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others.
- Promoting the enhancement of self-esteem by helping the narcissist identify and pursue their genuine interests, values, and goals.
- Teaching coping skills that can help the narcissist manage their emotions and impulses more effectively.
- Addressing any co-occurring psychological problems that may contribute to or result from the narcissist’s behavior and attitudes.
Narcissism is a personality trait that involves a sense of self-centeredness, self-importance, superiority, grandiosity, and entitlement. Narcissism is not the same as having high self-esteem, which is a positive and realistic evaluation of one’s value and worth. Research has shown that narcissism combined with high self-esteem is related to aggression and antisocial behavior, as narcissists tend to react with anger and hostility when they feel threatened, insulted, or criticized, and they tend to engage in cheating, lying, stealing, bullying, or exploiting others. Narcissism is not a fixed or innate trait, but a result of various factors that influence one’s personality development, such as genetic, environmental, and parenting factors. Narcissism can be treated with psychological therapy that can help narcissists gain insight into their behavior and its impact on themselves and others, challenge their distorted beliefs and assumptions, develop empathy and compassion for others, enhance their self-esteem, and learn coping skills.