What is narcissism?
The term narcissism comes from Greek mythology and the story of Narcissus.
Narcissus was handsome, arrogant and in love with his own image. He couldn’t pull himself away from his reflection in a pool of water. In the end his self-love destroyed him and he died staring at himself in the water. In everyday popular vocabulary, the term is a bit overused, but narcissism refers to someone who is arrogantly self-absorbed, so much so, that they have difficulty expressing love toward others. Meaning, they express love only when it is convenient for them and when it makes them feel good about themselves.
But, what is the psychological definition of narcissism? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissism as a personality disorder defined by the nine traits listed below. Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from a few narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder. While NPD is rarely diagnosed, non-clinical narcissism is a pervasive problem. I mean, let’s face it. Humans are naturally selfish beings and we all possess some of these traits. However, the further along the spectrum of narcissism, the more problems arise for both the narcissist and the people who are close to them.
Dr. Karyl McBride, author, speaker and therapist, lists the nine traits of narcissism in her book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?, as follows:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance ( e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e. takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Shows arrogance, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
If you live with or are in a relationship (not necessarily romantic) with a narcissist, your days probably have become consumed with what you can do to become a better person to make the narcissist happy. In general, your life is overtaken with thoughts of them and doing whatever is necessary to please them. You may be constantly doubting yourself, your decisions, your self-worth, your intelligence. And you might sometimes feel as if you’re truly going crazy.
In the next post, we’ll explore more narcissistic behaviors and how you can recognize them. Until then, much love to you all. I pray daily for all my readers to find peace, joy, love, freedom from fear, and happiness!