Narcissism


Narcissism

Narcissism is a term with a wide range of meanings, depending on whether it is used to describe a central concept of psychoanalytic theory, a mental illness, a social or cultural problem, or simply a personality trait. Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, "narcissism" usually is used to describe some kind of problem in a person or group's relationships with self and others. In everyday speech, "narcissism" often means inflated self-importance, egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others. In psychology, the term is used to describe both normal self-love and unhealthy self-absorption due to a disturbance in the sense of self.

The term "narcissism" was introduced in 1887 by Alfred Binet but its usage today stems from Freud's 1914 essay, On Narcissism. In Greek myth, Narcissus was a beautiful young man who rejected all potential lovers, but then tragically fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Havelock Ellis wrote in 1898 of "Narcissus-like" self-absorption, and in 1899 Paul Näcke used "narcissism" to describe men who were sexually excited by their own bodies rather than someone else's. In "On Narcissism," Freud expanded the term "narcissism" to explain the difference between being pathologically self-absorbed and having an ordinary interest in oneself.

In On Narcissism, Freud argued that primary narcissism is a natural and necessary investment of one's sexual energy in oneself, a sexual version of ordinary self-interest, whereas secondary narcissism is a defensive reaction of withdrawing one's sexual interest from other people and focusing it exclusively on oneself. To illustrate the difference, Freud compared secondary narcissism to the self-absorption of a person in pain:

"It is universally known, and we take it as a matter of course, that a person who is tormented by organic pain and discomfort gives up his interest in the things of the external world, in so far as they do not concern his suffering. Closer observation teaches us that he also withdraws libidinal interest from his love-objects: so long as he suffers, he ceases to love."

Today, in psychology, narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by a lack of empathy, a willingness to exploit others, and an inflated sense of self-importance. In popular discourse, "narcissism" is a widely-used term for a range of selfish behaviors. Cultural critics including Christopher Lasch have applied the term "narcissism" more generally to contemporary American culture. Some experts believe a disproportionate number of pathological narcissists are at work in the most influential reaches of society, such as medicine, finance, and politics.[1]

Contents

Myth of Narcissus

In The Metamorphoses by Ovid, Narcissus was a flamboyant youth who refused everyone who wanted to be his lover. Narcissus had never seen his reflection. The nymph Echo saw him one day walking through the forest, and fell in love with him. Echo was unable to say what she felt, because she had been cursed by the goddess Hera to only be able to repeat others' words back to them. Narcissus heard her but could not see her, and when he asked, "Who's here?", all Echo could reply was, "Here." One day, when Narcissus became thirsty and stopped by a pond to take a drink, he saw his reflection in the water for the first time. Not recognizing himself, he fell in love with his reflection. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away at the pool and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.

History

The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. In ancient Greece the concept was understood as hubris. It is only in recent times that it has been defined in psychological terms.

  • In 1898 Havelock Ellis, an English sexologist, used the term "narcissus-like" in reference to excessive masturbation, whereby the person becomes his or her own sex object.[2]
  • In 1899, Paul Näche was the first person to use the term "narcissism" in a study of sexual perversions.
  • Otto Rank in 1911 published the first psychoanalytical paper specifically concerned with narcissism, linking it to vanity and self-admiration.[2]
  • Sigmund Freud published a paper exclusively devoted to narcissism in 1914 called On Narcissism: An Introduction.[3]
  • In 1923, Martin Buber published an essay "Ich und Du" (I and Thou), in which he pointed out that our narcissism often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals.
  • Since 2000, on psychological tests designed to detect narcissism, the scores of residents of the United States have continually increased. Psychologists have suggested a link to social networking.[4]

Healthy narcissism

Healthy narcissism is a structural truthfulness of the self, achievement of self and object constancy, synchronization between the self and the superego and a balance between libidinal and aggressive drives (the ability to receive gratification from others and the drive for impulse expression). Healthy narcissism forms a constant, realistic self-interest and mature goals and principles and an ability to form deep object relations.[5] A feature related to healthy narcissism is the feeling of greatness. This is the antithesis of insecurity or inadequacy.

A required element within normal development

Healthy narcissism might exist in all individuals. Freud says that this is an original state from which the individual develops the love object. He argues that healthy narcissism is an essential part of normal development.[3] According to Freud the love of the parents for their child and their attitude toward their child could be seen as a revival and reproduction of their own narcissism.[3] The child has an omnipotence of thought; the parents stimulate that feeling because in their child they see the things that they have never reached themselves. Compared to neutral observations, the parents tend to overvalue the qualities of their child. When parents act in an extreme opposite style and the child is rejected or inconsistently reinforced depending on the mood of the parent, the self-needs of the child are not met.[citation needed]

In relation to the pathological condition

Healthy narcissism has to do with a strong feeling of "own love" protecting the human being against illness. Eventually, however, the individual must love the other, "the object love to not become ill". The individual becomes ill as a result of the frustration created when he is unable to love the object.[6] In pathological narcissism such as the narcissistic personality disorder and schizophrenia, the person’s libido has been withdrawn from objects in the world and produces megalomania. The clinical theorists Kernberg, Kohut and Millon all see pathological narcissism as a possible outcome in response to unempathic and inconsistent early childhood interactions. They suggested that narcissists try to compensate in adult relationships.[7] The pathological condition of narcissism is, as Freud suggested, a magnified, extreme manifestation of healthy narcissism.

With regard to the condition of healthy narcissism, it is suggested that this is correlated with good psychological health. Self-esteem works as a mediator between narcissism and psychological health. Therefore, because of their elevated self-esteem, deriving from self-perceptions of competence and likability, high narcissists are relatively free of worry and gloom.[8] Other researchers suggested that healthy narcissism cannot be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’; however, it depends on the contexts and outcomes being measured. In certain social contexts such as initiating social relationships, and with certain outcome variables, such as feeling good about oneself, healthy narcissism can be helpful. In other contexts, such as maintaining long-term relationships and with other outcome variables, such as accurate self-knowledge, healthy narcissism can be unhelpful.[9]

Impact of healthy vs. destructive narcissism on organizations

Lubit compared healthy and destructive narcissism in relation to their long-term impact on organizations.[10]

Characteristic Healthy Narcissism Destructive Narcissism
Self-confidence High outward self-confidence in line with reality An unrealistic sense of superiority ("Grandiose")
Desire for power, wealth and admiration May enjoy power Pursues power at all costs, lacks normal inhibitions in its pursuit
Relationships Real concern for others and their ideas; does not exploit or devalue others Concerns limited to expressing socially appropriate response when convenient; devalues and exploits others without remorse
Ability to follow a consistent path Has values; follows through on plans Lacks values; easily bored; often changes course
Foundation Healthy childhood with support for self-esteem and appropriate limits on behaviour towards others Traumatic childhood undercutting true sense of self-esteem and/or learning that he/she doesn't need to be considerate of others

Empirical studies

Within psychology, there are two main branches of research into narcissism, clinical and social psychology. These approaches differ in their view of narcissism with the former treating it as a disorder, thus as discrete, and the latter treating it as a personality trait, thus as a continuum. These two strands of research tend loosely to stand in a divergent relation to one another, although they converge in places.

Campbell and Foster (2007)[11] review the literature on narcissism. They argue that narcissists possess the following "basic ingredients":

  • Positive: Narcissists think they are better than others.[12]
  • Inflated: Narcissists' views tend to be contrary to reality. In measures that compare self-report to objective measures, narcissists' self-views tend to be greatly exaggerated.[13]
  • Agentic: Narcissists’ views tend to be most exaggerated in the agentic domain, relative to the communion domain.[clarification needed][12][13]
  • Special: Narcissists perceive themselves to be unique and special people.[14]
  • Selfish: Research upon narcissists’ behaviour in resource dilemmas supports the case for narcissists as being selfish.[15]
  • Oriented toward success: Narcissists are oriented towards success by being, for example, approach oriented.[clarification needed][16]

Narcissists tend to demonstrate a lack of interest in warm and caring interpersonal relationships. [Campbell and Forster (2007)[11]]. There are several ongoing controversies within narcissism literature, namely whether narcissism is healthy or unhealthy, a personality disorder, a discrete or continuous variable, defensive or offensive, the same across genders, the same across cultures, and changeable or unchangeable.

Campbell and Foster (2007) argue that self-regulatory strategies are of paramount importance to understanding narcissism.[11] Self-regulation in narcissists involves such things as striving to make one’s self look and feel positive, special, successful and important. It comes in both intra-psychic, such as blaming a situation rather than self for failure, and interpersonal forms, such as using a relationship to serve one’s own self. Some differences in self-regulation between narcissists and non-narcissists can be seen with Campbell, Reeder, Sedikides & Elliot (2000)[17] who conducted a study with two experiments. In each experiment, participants took part in an achievement task, following which they were provided with false feedback; it was either bogus success or failure. The study found that both narcissists and non-narcissists self-enhanced, but non-narcissists showed more flexibility in doing so. Participants were measured on both a comparative and a non-comparative self-enhancement strategy. Both narcissists and non-narcissists employed the non-comparative strategy similarly; however, narcissists were found to be more self-serving with the comparative strategy, employing it far more than non-narcissists, suggesting a greater rigidity in their self-enhancement. When narcissists receive negative feedback that threatens the self, they self-enhance at all costs, but non-narcissists tend to have limits.

Relationship to Moral Judgments

A study on 17 social and economic issues found narcissism to correlate significantly with traditionally "conservative" positions on capital punishment, free markets, detention of suspected terrorists without trial, and the right of a government to wage war in violation of UN resolutions. No significant relationships were found between narcissism and traditionally liberal judgments.[18]

Narcissistic personality disorder

Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves in a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), whereby the patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation. NPD is a condition defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 4, but a proposal has been made to remove it from the DSM-5.

Narcissistic traits

Thomas suggests that narcissists typically display most, sometimes all, of the following traits:[19]

  • An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
  • Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
  • A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
  • Difficulty with empathy
  • Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
  • Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
  • Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
  • Haughty body language
  • Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply)
  • Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse)
  • Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
  • Pretending to be more important than they really are
  • Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
  • Claiming to be an "expert" at many things
  • Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
  • Denial of remorse and gratitude

Hotchkiss' seven deadly sins of narcissism

Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:[20]

  1. Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
  2. Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
  3. Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
  4. Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
  5. Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
  6. Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
  7. Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.

Masterson's subtypes (exhibitionist and closet)

In 1993, James F. Masterson proposed two categories for pathological narcissism, exhibitionist and closet.[21] Both fail to adequately develop an age- and phase- appropriate self because of defects in the quality of psychological nurturing provided, usually by the mother. The exhibitionist narcissist is the one described in DSM-IV and differs from the closet narcissist in several important ways.

The closet narcissist is more likely to be described as having a deflated, inadequate self-perception and greater awareness of emptiness within. The exhibitionist narcissist would be described as having an inflated, grandiose self-perception with little or no conscious awareness of the emptiness within. Such a person would assume that this condition was normal and that others were just like them.

The closet narcissist seeks constant approval from others and appears similar to the borderline in the need to please others. The exhibitionist narcissist seeks perfect admiration all the time from others.

Millon's variations

Theodore Millon identified five variations of narcissist.[2] Any individual narcissist may exhibit none or one of the following:

  • unprincipled narcissist: including antisocial features. A charlatan—is a fraudulent, exploitative, deceptive and unscrupulous individual.
  • amorous narcissist: including histrionic features. The Don Juan or Casanova of our times—is erotic, exhibitionist.
  • compensatory narcissist: including negativistic (passive-aggressive), avoidant features.
  • elitist narcissist: variant of pure pattern. Corresponds to Wilhelm Reich's "phallic narcissistic" personality type.
  • fanatic type: including paranoid features. An individual whose self-esteem was severely arrested during childhood, usually with major paranoid tendencies who holds onto an illusion of omnipotence. These people are fighting delusions of insignificance and lost value and are trying to re-establish their self-esteem through grandiose fantasies and self-reinforcement. If unable to gain recognition of support from others, they take on the role of a heroic or worshipped person with a grandiose mission.

Other forms of narcissism

Acquired situational narcissism

Acquired situational narcissism (ASN) is a form of narcissism that develops in late adolescence or adulthood, brought on by wealth, fame and the other trappings of celebrity. It was coined by Robert B. Millman, professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.

ASN differs from conventional narcissism in that it develops after childhood and is triggered and supported by the celebrity-obsessed society: fans, assistants and tabloid media all play into the idea that the person really is vastly more important than other people, triggering a narcissistic problem that might have been only a tendency, or latent, and helping it to become a full-blown personality disorder. "Millman says that what happens to celebrities is that they get so used to people looking at them that they stop looking back at other people."[22]

In its presentation and symptoms, it is indistinguishable from narcissistic personality disorder, differing only in its late onset and its support by large numbers of others. "The lack of social norms, controls, and of people telling them how life really is, also makes these people believe they're invulnerable,"[23] so that the person with ASN may suffer from unstable relationships, substance abuse and erratic behaviour.

A famous fictional character with ASN is Norma Desmond, the main character of Sunset Boulevard.

Aggressive narcissism

This is Factor 1 in the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which includes the following traits:

Codependency (inverted narcissism or co-narcissism)

Codependency is a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one's relationships and quality of life. Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent. Rappoport identifies codependents of narcissists as "co-narcissists".[24]

Collective or group narcissism

Collective narcissism (or group narcissism) is a type of narcissism where an individual has an inflated self-love of his or her own ingroup, where an “ingroup” is a group in which an individual is personally involved.[25] While the classic definition of narcissism focuses on the individual, collective narcissism asserts that one can have a similar excessively high opinion of a group, and that a group can function as a narcissistic entity.[25] Collective narcissism is related to ethnocentrism; however, ethnocentrism primarily focuses on self-centeredness at an ethnic or cultural level, while collective narcissism is extended to any type of ingroup beyond just cultures and ethnicities.[25][26]

Conversational narcissism

Conversational narcissism is a term used by sociologist Charles Derber in his book, The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life.

Derber observed that the social support system in America is relatively weak, and this leads people to compete mightily for attention. In social situations, they tend to steer the conversation away from others and toward themselves. "Conversational narcissism is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America," he wrote. "It occurs in informal conversations among friends, family and coworkers. The profusion of popular literature about listening and the etiquette of managing those who talk constantly about themselves suggests its pervasiveness in everyday life."

What Derber describes as "conversational narcissism" often occurs subtly rather than overtly because it is prudent to avoid being judged an egotist.

Derber distinguishes the "shift-response" from the "support-response".[clarification needed]

Corporate narcissism

Organizational psychologist Alan Downs wrote a book in 1997 describing corporate narcissism.[27] He explores high-profile corporate leaders (such as Al Dunlap and Robert Allen) who, he suggests, literally have only one thing on their minds: profits. According to Downs, such narrow focus actually may yield positive short-term benefits, but ultimately it drags down individual employees as well as entire companies. Alternative thinking is proposed, and some firms now utilizing these options are examined. Downs' theories are relevant to those suggested by Victor Hill in his book, Corporate Narcissism in Accounting Firms Australia.[28]

Cross-cultural narcissism

Joan Lachkar describes the phenomenon of cross-cultural narcissism thus:[29]

The cross-cultural narcissist brings to his new country a certain amount of nationalistic pride, which he holds onto relentlessly. He refuses to adapt and will go to great lengths to maintain his sense of special identity. Cross-cultural narcissists often hook up with borderline women, who tend to idealize and be mesmerized by men from another culture.

Cultural narcissism

In The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch defines a narcissistic culture as one where every activity and relationship is defined by the hedonistic need to acquire the symbols of wealth,[30] this becoming the only expression of rigid, yet covert, social hierarchies. It is a culture where liberalism only exists insofar as it serves a consumer society, and even art, sex and religion lose their liberating power.

In such a society of constant competition, there can be no allies, and little transparency. The threats to acquisitions of social symbols are so numerous, varied and frequently incomprehensible, that defensiveness, as well as competitiveness, becomes a way of life. Any real sense of community is undermined—or even destroyed—to be replaced by virtual equivalents that strive, unsuccessfully, to synthesize a sense of community.

Destructive narcissism

Destructive narcissism describes someone who constantly exhibits numerous and intense characteristics usually associated with the pathological narcissist but having fewer characteristics than pathological narcissism.[31]

Gender narcissism

Gender narcissism is a relatively new concept, referred to by Dr. Gerald Schoenwolf,[32] with reference to both males and females.

The concept builds on Freud's theories of penis envy and the castration anxiety. Chiefly that an over-emphasis or over-perception of gender and gender difference in childhood can lead to either a devaluation or an over-valuation of one's gender in later life.

Dr. Schoenwolf in particular suggests that the emergence of the feminist personality, with gonadal-centric views, and female gender narcissism are synonymous.

Malignant narcissism

Malignant narcissism, a term first coined in a book by Erich Fromm in 1964,[33] is a syndrome consisting of a cross breed of the narcissistic personality disorder, the antisocial personality disorder, as well as paranoid traits. The malignant narcissist differs from narcissistic personality disorder in that the malignant narcissist derives higher levels of psychological gratification from accomplishments over time (thus worsening the disorder). Because the malignant narcissist becomes more involved in this psychological gratification, in the context of the right conditions, they are apt to develop the antisocial, the paranoid, and the schizoid personality disorders. The term malignant is added to the term narcissist to indicate that individuals with this disorder have a powerful form of narcissism that has made them ill in the forms of paranoid and anti-social traits.

Medical narcissism

Medical narcissism is a term coined by John Banja in his book, Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism.[34][35]

Banja defines "medical narcissism" as the need of health professionals to preserve their self esteem leading to the compromise of error disclosure to patients.

In the book he explores the psychological, ethical and legal effects of medical errors and the extent to which a need to constantly assert their competence can cause otherwise capable, and even exceptional, professionals to fall into narcissistic traps.

He claims that:

...most health professionals (in fact, most professionals of any ilk) work on cultivating a self that exudes authority, control, knowledge, competence and respectability. It's the narcissist in us all—we dread appearing stupid or incompetent.

Phallic narcissism

Wilhelm Reich first identified the phallic narcissistic personality type, with excessively inflated self-image. The individual is elitist, a "social climber", admiration seeking, self-promoting, bragging and empowered by social success.

According to Otto Fenichel, 'Phallic characters are persons whose behavior is reckless, resolute and self-assured - traits, however, that have a reactive character: they reflect a fixation at the phallic level, with overvaluation of the penis and confusion of the penis with the whole body'.[36] Fenichel stressed that 'an intense vanity and sensitiveness reveals that these narcissistic patients still have their narcissistic needs...for which they overcompensate'.[37]

Others would add that 'the phallic character conceives of sexual behaviour as a display of potency, in contrast to the genital character, who conceives of it as participation in a relationship'.[38]

Primordial narcissism

Psychiatrist Ernst Simmel first defined primordial narcissism in 1944.[39] Simmel's fundamental thesis is that the most primitive stage of libidinal development is not the oral, but the gastro-intestinal one. Mouth and anus are merely to be considered as the terminal parts of this organic zone. Simmel terms the psychological condition of prenatal existence "primordial narcissism". It is the vegetative stage of the pre-ego, identical with the id. At this stage there is complete instinctual repose, manifested in unconsciousness. Satiation of the gastro-intestinal zone, the representative of the instinct of self-preservation, can bring back this complete instinctual repose, which, under pathological conditions, can become the aim of the instinct.

Contrary to Lasch, Bernard Stiegler argues in his book, Acting Out, that consumer capitalism is in fact destructive of what he calls primordial narcissism, without which it is not possible to extend love to others.[40]

In other words he is referring to the natural state of an infant as a fetus and in the first few days of its life, before it has learned that other people exist besides itself, and therefore cannot possibly be aware that they are human beings with feelings, rather than having anything to do with actual narcissism.

Sexual narcissism

Sexual narcissism has been described as an egocentric pattern of sexual behavior that involves an inflated sense of sexual ability and sexual entitlement. In addition, sexual narcissism is the erotic preoccupation with oneself as a superb lover through a desire to merge sexually with a mirror image of oneself. Sexual narcissism is an intimacy dysfunction in which sexual exploits are pursued, generally in the form of extramarital affairs, to overcompensate for low self-esteem and an inability to experience true intimacy.[41] This behavioral pattern is believed to be more common in men than in women and has been tied to domestic violence in men and sexual coercion in couples.[42][43] Hurlbert argues that sex is a natural biological given and therefore cannot be deemed as an addiction. He and his colleagues assert that any sexual addiction is nothing more than a misnomer for what is actually sexual narcissism or sexual compulsivity.[44]

Spiritual narcissism

Spiritual narcissism describes mistakes spiritual seekers commit that turn the pursuit of spirituality into an ego-building and confusion-creating endeavor.[45] This is based on the idea that ego development is counter to spiritual progress.

Commonly used measures

Narcissistic Personality Inventory

The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is the most widely used measure of narcissism in social psychological research. Although several versions of the NPI have been proposed in the literature, a forty-item forced-choice version (Raskin & Terry, 1988) is the one most commonly employed in current research. The NPI is based on the DSM-III clinical criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), although it was designed to measure these features in the general population. Thus, the NPI is often said to measure "normal" or "subclinical" (borderline) narcissism (i.e., in people who score very high on the NPI do not necessarily meet criteria for diagnosis with NPD).

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory

The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) is a widely used diagnostic test developed by Theodore Millon. The MCMI includes a scale for Narcissism. Auerbach compared the NPI and MCMI and found them well correlated, r(146) = .55, p<.001.[46] It should be noted that whereas the MCMI measures narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), the NPI measures narcissism as it occurs in the general population. In other words, the NPI measures "normal" narcissism; i.e., most people who score very high on the NPI do not have NPD. Indeed, the NPI does not capture any sort of narcissism taxon as would be expected if it measured NPD.[47]

Narcissistic parents

Narcissistic parents demand certain behavior from their children because they see the children as extensions of themselves, and need the children to represent them in the world in ways that meet the parents’ emotional needs. This parenting 'style' most often results in estranged relationships with the children, coupled with feelings of resentment and self-destructive tendencies.[24]

Narcissistic leadership

Narcissistic leadership is a common form of leadership. The narcissism may be healthy or destructive although there is a continuum between the two. A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that when a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge. Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups.[48]

Heritability of narcissism utilizing twin studies

Livesley et al. concluded, in agreement with other studies, that narcissism as measured by a standardized test[49] was a common inherited trait.[50] Additionally, in similar agreement with those other studies, it was found that there exists a continuum between normal and disordered personality.

The study subjects were 175 volunteer twin pairs (ninety identical, eighty-five fraternal) drawn from the general population. Each twin completed a questionnaire that assessed eighteen dimensions of personality disorder. The authors estimated the heritability of each dimension of personality by standard methods, thus providing estimates of the relative contributions of genetic and environmental causation.

Of the eighteen personality dimensions, narcissism was found to have the highest heritability (0.64), indicating that the concordance of this trait in the identical twins was significantly influenced by genetics. Of the other dimensions of personality, only four were found to have heritability coefficients of greater than 0.5: callousness, identity problems, oppositionality and social avoidance.

Stigmatising attitude of narcissists to psychiatric illness

Arikan found that a stigmatising attitude to psychiatric patients is associated with narcissistic personality traits.[51]

Narcissism in evolutionary psychology

The concept of narcissism is used in evolutionary psychology in relation to the mechanisms of assortative mating, or the non-random choice of a partner for purposes of procreation.

Evidence for assortative mating among humans is well established; humans mate assortatively regarding age, IQ, height, weight, nationality, educational and occupational level, physical and personality characteristics, and family relatedness.[52] In the "self seeking like" hypothesis, individuals unconsciously look for a mirror image of themselves in others, seeking criteria of beauty or reproductive fitness in the context of self-reference.

Alvarez et al. found that facial resemblance between couples was a strong driving force among the mechanisms of assortative mating: human couples resemble each other significantly more than would be expected from random pair formation.[53] Since facial characteristics are known to be inherited, the "self seeking like" mechanism may enhance reproduction between genetically similar mates, favoring the stabilization of genes supporting social behavior, with no kin relationship among them.

—==Examples of narcissism in the media== Numerous books, films and television shows have narcissistic characters and/or themes. Examples include:

  • Jay Gatsby, the titular character of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, "an archetype of self-made American men seeking to join high society,"[54] has been described as a "pathological narcissist" for whom the "ego-ideal" has become "inflated and destructive" and whose "grandiose lies, poor sense of reality, sense of entitlement, and exploitive treatment of others" conspire toward his own demise.[55] The most famous of the seven filmed interpretations of this novel[56] is Paramount Pictures' 1974 screen version, starring Sam Waterston as narrator Nick Carraway, with Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan and Robert Redford as Gatsby, with a script by Francis Ford Coppola.
  • In the film Iron Man 2, Nick Fury tells Tony Stark he cannot be a part of the Avengers Initiative because of his compulsive self-destructive behaviour and textbook narcissism. Tony agrees, making him a self-aware narcissist.
  • In the film To Die For, Nicole Kidman's character wants to appear on television at all costs, even if this involves murdering her husband. A psychiatric assessment of her character noted that she "was seen as a prototypical narcissistic person by the raters: on average, she satisfied 8 of 9 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder... had she been evaluated for personality disorders, she would receive a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder."[57]
  • In the video game series Mass Effect, the Reapers are an elder race species of bioships with strong AI that as a species have a strongly individualistic and highly narcissistic effect, to the extent of a God complex. This is shown especially when they are communicating with other species; given their superlatively greater power and technology, the Reapers, in their thoughts, feel they are vindicated in their narcissism.[58]

—Lucy from Charlie Brown

See also

References

  1. ^ Megalomiacs abound in politics/medicine/finance Business Day 2011/01/07
  2. ^ a b c Millon, Theodore, Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2004
  3. ^ a b c Freud, Sigmund, On Narcissism: An Introduction, 1914
  4. ^ Person of the Year 2010 Mark Zuckerberg Time Magazine December 15, 2010
  5. ^ Moore & Fine (1990). Psychoanalytic Terms & Concept. The American Psychoanalytic Association: New York.
  6. ^ Psywilly.be, psychoanalyticus Willy Depecker
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Further reading

  • Brown, Nina W. Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents (2008)
  • Brown, Nina W. The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern (1998)
  • Golomb, Elan Trapped in the Mirror - Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle for Self (1995)
  • Hotchkiss, Sandy & Masterson, James F. Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)
  • Lavender NJ & Cavaiola AA The One-Way Relationship Workbook: Step-By-Step Help for Coping with Narcissists, Egotistical Lovers, Toxic Coworkers & Others Who Are Incredibly Self-Absorbed (2011)
  • Lowen, Alexander Narcissism: Denial of the True Self (1984)
  • McFarlin, Dean Where Egos Dare: The Untold Truth About Narcissistic Leaders - And How to Survive Them (2002)
  • Morrison, Andrew P. Essential Papers on Narcissism (Essential Papers in Psychoanalysis) (1986)
  • Morrison, Andrew P. Shame: The Underside of Narcissism (1997)
  • Payson, Eleanor The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family (2002)
  • Ronningstam, Elsa F. Identifying and Understanding the Narcissistic Personality (2005)
  • Thomas David Narcissism: Behind the Mask (2010)
  • Twenge, Jean M. & Campbell, W. Keith The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009)
  • Vaknin, Sam & Rangelovska, Lidija Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited (1999)

External links


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