What is narcissism?
Narcissism is a trait which ranges in various degrees and types. Ultimately, narcissists believe they are superior to everyone else and deserve more than the average person because they are ‘special’. Any chance of building healthy relationships with loved ones, coworkers and peers are sabotaged.
People with narcissistic traits or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NDP) are in love with the idealised image they have of themselves. It is an ‘idealised’ image because it helps them to avoid their true insecurities. It requires a lot of work to maintain this image as they heavily rely on reassurance from others which is why their behaviours and attitudes are somewhat dysfunctional. However, behind their confident mask lies a vulnerable self-esteem especially when hit with any criticism from others. When they do receive criticism, they can take it as a personal attack rather than seeing it as constructive because they are highly sensitive. They simply expect unconditional, positive regard from others as this is what their self-esteem thrives off.
Identifying a narcissist
There are a few common signs a narcissist may possess; i.e., a grandiose self-image, high self-importance, an excessive need for admiration and attention from others and a lack of empathy. Combining these attributes, many narcissists appear arrogant, envious, selfish, manipulative, demanding and competitive.
You can usually identify common behavioural patterns by watching and listening out for their constant requests for praise and appreciation, talks about self-entitlement, undermining others as well as bullying and exploitation.
When confronted with issues, they are quick to turn the blame onto others. Narcissists are extremely resistant to changing their patterns of behaviour and attitudes even if it is a cause of their problems.
There are multiple explanations that may contribute to a narcissistic personality trait, whether it is nature or nurture, each case depends on the person and their environment. A few possible underlying causes may be due to:
- A parent showed an excessive amount of appraisal and attention to a child’s appearance and/or talent
- High expectations for the child to succeed
- Traumatic experiences
- Harsh criticism
- Parents were insensitive, neglecting and/or unpredictable
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