Notice how we the people are regularly treated to a diet of narcissism during each election cycle? Yes, it is important that each of us have a healthy love of ourselves; a necessary condition for genuinely loving others (as we do ourselves). But how far must one go before he/she reaches the point of full-blown narcissism?
Remember in Greek mythology? Narcissus was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus (mythology)
While there is wide debate among fellow mental health professionals about the definition of narcissism and its spectrum,
Dr. Seltzer offers 6 signs showing how you can recognize the fragility behind the narcissist’s grandiosity:
- Are highly reactive to criticism.Or anything they assume or interpret as negatively evaluating their personality or performance
- Have low self-esteem. This facet of their psyche is complicated, because superficially their self-regard would appear to be higher and more assured than just about anyone else’s. Additionally, given their customary “drivenness,” it’s not uncommon for them to rise to positions of power and influence, as well as amass a fortune But if we examine what’s beneath the surface of such elevated social, political, or economic stature—or their accomplishments generally—what typically can be inferred is a degree of insecurity vastly beyond anything they might be willing to avow.
Note how they so often fish for compliments and their penchant for bragging and boasting about their (frequently exaggerated) achievements. That is, they’re experts at complimenting themselves!
- Can be inordinately self-righteous and defensive.Needing so much to protect their overblown but fragile ego, their ever-vigilant defense system can be extraordinarily easy to set off.
Further, their “my way or the highway” attitude in decision-making—their stubborn. competitive insistence that their point of view prevail—betrays (even as it endeavors to conceal) their underlying doubts about not being good, strong, or smart enough.
- React to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. In fact, this characteristic is so common in narcissists.
The accompanying message that gets communicated through such antagonistic emotions is “I’m not bad (wrong, stupid, mean, etc.), you are!”
- Project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t—or won’t—accept in themselves.Because they’re compelled from deep within to conceal deficits or weaknesses in their self-image, they habitually redirect any unfavorable appraisal of themselves outwards.
- Have poor interpersonal boundaries.It’s been said about narcissists that they can’t tell where they end and the other person begins. We exist chiefly to caterto their personal desires—they generally don’t think about others independently of how they might “use” them to their own advantage.— a sense of entitlement.
(6 Signs of Narcissism You May Not Know About by Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., who holds doctorates in both English and Psychology. Formerly an English professor at Queens College (CUNY) and Cleveland State University, quoted in psychologytoday)
This is where Counseling on Demand comes in. Narcissism is most difficult to treat. Somehow there must be a “Come to Reality” event by oneself or a significant “other” willing and courageous enough to help.
If you or someone you know needs such help, we are online at CounselingonDemand.com.
We are only a click away.