ARE YOU IN FEAR OF REALLY KNOWING YOURSELF ?
ARE YOU IN FEAR OF REALLY KNOWING YOURSELF ?
Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory, which was popularly introduced in Sigmund Freud‘s essay On Narcissism (1914). The American Psychiatric Association has had the classification narcissistic personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 1968, drawing on the historical concept of megalomania.
Narcissism is also considered a social or cultural problem. It is a factor in trait theory used in various self-report inventories of personality such as the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory. It is one of the three dark triadic personality traits (the others being psychopathy and Machiavellianism). Except in the sense of primary narcissism or healthy self-love, narcissism is usually considered a problem in a person’s or group’s relationships with self and others. Narcissism is not the same as egocentrism.
The myth of Sisyphus tells about a man who pushes his stone up a mountain each day, only to have to recommence the task on the next day.
The term “narcissism” comes from the Greek myth about Narcissus (Greek: Νάρκισσος, Narkissos), a handsome Greek youth who, according to Ovid, rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. These advances eventually led Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus “lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour,” and finally changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus. The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. In ancient Greece the concept was understood as hubris. It is only more recently that narcissism has been defined in psychological terms.
- In 1752 Jean-Jacques Rousseau‘s play Narcissus: or the Self-Admirer was performed in Paris.
- In 1898 Havelock Ellis, an English psychologist, used the term “Narcissus-like” in reference to excessive masturbation, whereby the person becomes his or her own sex object
- In 1899, Paul Näcke 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.
- Sigmund Freud published a paper on narcissism in 1914 called “On Narcissism: An Introduction”.
- In 1923, Martin Buber published an essay “Ich und Du” (I and You), in which he pointed out that our narcissism often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals.
Life is a stage, and when the curtain falls upon an act, it is finished and forgotten. The emptiness of such a life is beyond imagination.
—Alexander Lowen describing the existence of a narcissist
Four dimensions of narcissism as a personality variable have been delineated: leadership/authority, superiority/arrogance, self-absorption/self-admiration, and exploitativeness/entitlement.
A 2012 book on power-hungry narcissists suggests that narcissists typically display most, and sometimes all, of the following traits:
These criteria have been criticized because they presume a knowledge of intention (for example, the phrase “pretending to be”). Behavior is observable, but intention is not. Thus classification requires assumptions which need to be tested before they can be asserted as fact, especially considering multiple explanations could be made as to why a person exhibits these behaviors.
Hotchkiss’ seven deadly sins of narcissism
Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:
- Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
- Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to “dump” shame onto others.
- Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may “reinflate” their sense of self-importance by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
- 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 or their achievements.
- 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.
- Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other person is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
- 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.