What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is an idea of thinking highly of yourself to an extent that it affects your behavior around others and also affects your mental health. Sigmund Freud says that narcissism is common in children as it is a stage in their development but it is considered as a disorder if it occurs after puberty.

The term Narcissism comes from a Greek myth that a man named Narcissus, who was a hunter, fell in love with his reflection in the water. One day, while Narcissus was hunting, echo, a nymph, tried to convey her feelings to him but he rejected her offer. Unhappy with his behavior, Nemesis the goddess of revenge and retribution, sent him to a pool where he fell in love with his reflection and when he realized this, he committed suicide.

A few narcissistic traits are found in most individuals but when the traits can’t be ignored by others and start affecting their mental health, it can be diagnosed as a narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is very rare but it is usually found in men. The cause of why is it more common in men is unknown.

Narcissism Disorder is of two types, grandiose narcissism, and vulnerable narcissism. Grandiose narcissism is mainly related to aggression and dominating behavior. People with a grandiose variant of narcissism, expect other people to serve them, they think that they are above all and superior to others. Vulnerable narcissists are often afraid of criticism, they remain happy until they are praised but when they are criticized they feel ashamed and consider being alone.

Narcissism can be characterized by traits like the constant pursuit of admiration, no place for other’s emotions and feelings, and the inability to confront any type of criticism. Narcissists have highly misconceptional images of themselves in their minds. They might not be as good at their work as they think they are and they might think unrealistically highly of their looks even though they may be average looking, according to others. They constantly need positive reassurance from others and they cannot handle criticism or any other bad feedback.

According to psychoanalysts Heinz Kohut and Otto Kernberg, NPD is the result of issues in the social, mainly parental, relationships during childhood. It occurs due to the lack of healthy self-development. Sometimes parents or guardians fail to make the child realize that it’s okay not to be perfect in every field and it’s okay to have some flaws. When the child grows up learning that he doesn’t have any flaws or that flaws might hamper his personality, he develops a false sense of self-importance and starts to think of himself as superior to everybody.

NPD can be tested by NPI (Narcissistic personality Inventory) which is a set of questions given to the respondents related to their personality, it was developed by Raskin and Hall. If diagnosed, NPD can be treated by talk therapy or psychotherapy. It can be very helpful and it can make you understand the reason for your emotions.