Narcissism: What Does It Mean?

narcissistic man

Narcissism is defined as excessive interest or admiration for oneself and one’s appearance. In psychology, narcissism is described as selfishness, which includes a sense of qualification as a characteristic of the personality type with a lack of sympathy and a need for admiration. Narcissism originates from the early 19th century, via Latin from the Greek name “Narkissos”.

Narcissistic Behavior (NPD):

Narcissistic personality disorder, one of many types of personality disorders, is one in which people have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a deep need for undue attention and admiration, a disturbed relationship, and a lack of sympathy for others.

Symptoms called the main characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism) include the following:

  • Grandiosity (Greatness)
  • Exaggerated feelings.
  • Superiority feeling that deserves special treatment.
  • Emotions are often accompanied by unlimited success, shine, power, beauty, and love.
  • Exaggerated need for admiration (Special praise is required)
  • Desire to be the center of attention.
  • Discussions are often monopolized.
  • Patients feel mistreated and enraged when ignored.
  1. Disrupted and superficial relationships
  • Relationships are based on the surface attributes, not on any specific or unique quality of others.
  • People are valued only if they are considered useful.
  1. Lack of sympathy

The emotional needs, the experiences of other people, and the ability to take care of your dear ones are very limited or completely missing.

  1. Identity disturbance
  • Tendency to be highly superficial, very strict, and often fragile.
  • Stability depends on maintaining the image of oneself as exceptional.
  • Feeling of grandiosity is easily threatened
  • Patients withdraw or deny the reality of questioning the grandiosity.
  1. Difficult to attach and depend
  • Rely on feedback from the environment.
  • Relationships exist only to strengthen positive self-esteem and image.
  • The interactions are meaningless and superficial.
  • Avoidance of intimacy.
  • Chronic emotions of emptiness and feeling boredom, upset, and depression when attention and praise are not available.
  • Difficulty in establishing reality-based individual and collective goals over the period. Compromises are required, which are intolerable.
  • NPD is also an important factor for suicide and suicide attempts.

Narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism) is diagnosed using The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To diagnose a narcissistic personality disorder, five of the following nine characteristics must be met:

  1. Great sense of self-importance.
  2. Preoccupation with the fantasy of limitless success, power, brilliance, beauty, and love.
  3. The belief that he or she should be “special”, unique, understandable, or associated with other special or high-ranking people or institutions.
  4. Needs excessive praise and admiration.
  5. Sense of entitlement.
  6. Taking advantage of others
  7. Lack of empathy.
  8. Jealous of others, or believe that others are jealous of him.
  9. Showing off an arrogant attitude.

The cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown, but some researchers believe that biologically vulnerable children may be affected by overprotective or neglected parenting styles. Genetics and neuroscience may also be involved in the development of narcissistic personality disorder. The main reasons are:

  1. Child abuse or ignorance
  2. Excessive parental care
  3. Unrealistic parental expectations
  4. Sexual lewdness (often with narcissism)
  5. Cultural impact

In the broader diagnosis of NPD, some researchers have focused on up to five subtypes:

  1. Overt narcissism
  2. Covert narcissism
  3. Antagonistic narcissism
  4. Communal narcissism
  5. Malignant narcissism

Some studies distinguish narcissism into two broader types:

  1. Adaptive narcissism
  2. Mal-adaptive narcissism

This helps to show the difference between the productive and non-productive aspects of narcissism.

  1. Adaptive narcissism refers to the aspects of narcissism that are beneficial, such as high self-confidence, self-reliability, and the ability to admire oneself.
  2. Maladaptive narcissism is associated with personality traits that do not benefit you and can adversely affect your feelings about yourself and others. For instance, entitlement and the tendency to take advantage of others. This may be due to symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. When most people talk about narcissism, they usually refer to the type of narcissism under a maladaptive umbrella.

Researchers and experts generally deal with the above five subtypes of narcissism.

  1. Overt narcissism:

It is also known as grandiose narcissism and agentic narcissism. A person with overt narcissism may look like this:

  • Exaggerated self-image
  • Need praise and admiration
  • Exploiter
  • Competitor
  • Lack of empathy
  • Friendly and socially confident
  • Arrogant
  • Given the right to do anything
  • Authoritarian
  1. Covert narcissism:

Covert narcissism is also known as vulnerable narcissism. Many people think of narcissism as a noisy and overbearing personality trait, but covert narcissism does not support this model. Instead, the specific common features of those who have covert narcissism are as follows.

  • Low self-esteem
  • High probability of examining anxiety, depression, and shame
  • Introvert
  • Uncertainty or low confidence
  • Being defensive
  • Avoidance
  • Tendency to feel and play the victim
  1. Antagonistic Narcissism:

According to some studies, antagonistic narcissism is a clear subtype of overt narcissism. This aspect of narcissism focuses on competition and rivalry. Some features of antagonistic narcissism are:

  • Arrogance 
  • Tendency to use others.
  • Tendency to compete with others.
  • Sensitivity or tendency to argue.
  1. Communal narcissism:

Communal narcissism is another type of overt narcissism that is generally considered the opposite of antagonistic narcissism. People with communal narcissism may value fairness and consider themselves altruists. It is commonly found that between these beliefs and their behavior, there is a break-in. People with communal narcissism are:

  • Easy to get angry.
  • Explain themselves as empathetic and generous.
  • React severely to what they consider unfair.
  1. Malignant narcissism:

Narcissism can exist at varying levels of severity, and malignant narcissism is the most severe form. It can also cause more problems for the patient. Malignant narcissism is more closely associated with overt narcissism. People with malignant narcissism can share many characteristics of narcissism, such as praise from others and a strong need for uplifting. But in addition to that, malignant narcissism can manifest itself as follows:

  • Feeling of revenge.
  • Rejoice in sadism or the pain of others.
  • Aggression when interacting with others.
  • Increased anxiety about paranoia or potential threats.

People with malignant narcissism may have some similarities to antisocial personality disorder.

There is no such cure, but therapy can help a lot. The goal is to boost the person’s low self-esteem and have more reality-based expectations of others. Treatment usually centers around talk therapy. People call this psychotherapy sometimes. Long-term counseling is the primary treatment for NPD. This will help you better understand the problem and the changes you can make to:

  • Treat others in a positive and rewarding way.
  • Foster healthy self-esteem.
  • Have more realistic expectations for others.

The following steps can be adapted to handle a narcissist:

  1. Educate yourself i.e., try to find out more about the disorder. It can help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of a narcissist and learn how to cope with them better.
  2. Create boundaries. Be clear about your limits and boundaries.
  3. Speak up for yourself. When you need something, be clear and concise about it.

Therapists may also recommend medications to treat symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Medicines involved are:

  1. Antidepressants: These medicines treat depression. Health care professionals usually prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of medicines has fewer side effects than other antidepressants. SSRI drugs include fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine.
  2. Mood stabilizer: To reduce mood swings, doctors may prescribe mood stabilizers such as lithium.
  3. Antipsychotics: This type of medicine can relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Aripiprazole and risperidone are two antipsychotics.  

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