Finding yourself drawn to grand ideas and unrealistic promises? You might be dealing with Narcissism. Self-absorbing behavior, vociferously exaggeration of personal identity, counterattacking and demeaning others’ thoughts, not being approachable or compassionate to others’ needs are a few of many traits that describe a narcissist person. Addicted to their own fantasy, narcissists have a delusional sense of self-worth and a deep need for attention and admiration. They are apathetic and fail to engage in trusted relationships. They possess an intense drive to be in a group of people who admire them.
The word Narcissism finds its origin in a mythological figure Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Categorized as a mental disorder, Narcissism was identified by British essayist and physician Havelock Ellis in 1898.
Signs of being Narcissist
According to the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, a narcissistic personality disorder is defined in terms of personality traits clinically diagnosed based on the following criteria. Individuals meeting any five out of nine criteria are considered narcissistic.
- A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, with a sense of self-importance, often characterized in terms of exaggerated achievements and recognition of oneself as superior.
- Occupied with the delusion of unlimited power, success, brilliance and beauty.
- Self-believe that they are “special” and unique, and cannot be understood by many.
- Need for excessive admiration.
- Unreasonable expectations of favourable treatment and a sense of entitlement.
- Interpersonal exploitative behaviour often taking advantage of others’ vulnerability to achieve their ends.
- Unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Often jealous of others and believe that others are jealous of them.
- Showing arrogant and superior behaviour to turn down other views and consider them unworthy.
Nature of a Narcissist
People with narcissistic traits, at a first glance, may seem most charming, showering unconditional sympathy, delusional favors, and care. But as time passes, they try to separate others from their supportive environment and start to control them to satisfy their ego and their sense of self-worth. They try to exploit anyone who conflicts with their orbit.
Narcissistic individuals are arrogant having feigned superiority and aggressiveness. Though few narcissists with overweening ambition and confidence may lead to achievement, performance may be disrupted because of intolerance to criticism or defeat. Narcissists with an intense drive for power and attention may benefit from campaigns for industrial or political leadership. And once in power, they may focus more on self-promotion and suppress opposition rather than advancing their goals. The excessive need for admiration makes narcissistic individuals highly vulnerable to disapproval and disregard. When unable to achieve the required commendation, they feel humiliation and dishonor. This can provoke them to engage in rage, become furious, boil the situation to turn things in one’s favor or call for the vehement counterattack.
Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have a tendency to social withdrawal and show humility only to mask and protect their delusional grandiosity. They are also associated with a hypo-manic mood, persistent depressive disorder, or histrionic and antisocial personality disorders. With a tendency to have obsessive and compulsive traits narcissists profess a commitment to perfectionism and believe that others cannot do things as well.
Cause of Narcissistic Traits
The Psychopathological cause behind an adult narcissistic can be an innate oversensitive temperament, excessive admiration by parents, lack of realistic feedback from parents, unreliable caregiving, and/or emotional abuse during childhood. Austrian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut asserted that narcissism can be an outcome of parental lack of empathy during critical times of a child’s development which can result in the child’s inability to regulate his self-esteem. This can create disturbance in the sense of having close contacts and mismanaged Interpersonal relations. Another psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg proposes that narcissism is a kind of defense mechanism resulting from the child’s reaction to coldness and lack of empathy on the parents’ part. A Child’s emotional hunger and rage to parents’ neglect, can make the child attempt to refuge in self-admiration.
A narcissistic individual can make life extremely stressful, leading to depression and anxiety. The longer a narcissist dominates your life, negative effects can multiply many folds. As when others try to distance themselves from a narcissist, they are likely to a put lot of energy into manipulation. They become forceful and exert their opinion in the most charming manner, lie or exaggerate the truth to score their goals, and feel self-important.
Overcoming a narcissist can be difficult. But by not allowing them to get under your skin and refusing to feed admiration to the beast can unsettle narcissism. Respecting one’s integrity and honor, one can refuse to follow their instructions, fact-check their every sugar-coated statement, set clear boundaries to disengage their involvement in your every action. Try to speak up, put forward your concerns with facts, be specific and consistent. The narcissist often tries to manipulate you into feeling that they are right, and you are being unreasonable and controlling. They might also play a sympathy card. But stand to affirm on your ground, take the situation in your hand rather than giving control to them.
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