Narcissism is a Disorder – Harsher Than “Main Apni Favourite Hoon”
Let a psychologist tell you what narcissism really is – and how your Facebook selfies have nothing to do with it.
Every third post on my Facebook timeline is a selfie.
Every fourth is probably a detailed account of one’s trip to Morocco, a picture of the tabletop at work, the latest relationship jaunt... what-have-you.
Sure, to you it appears self-indulgent, and maaaay occasionally even be boastful.
But is that enough to qualify it as narcissistic behaviour?
Our idea of narcissism, more often than not is fed by social media. If they talk about themselves, or post pictures which make them look and feel good – they’re narcissistic. The truth is that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., give people a great place to converse and express themselves, and most people grab that opportunity without thinking of being labelled so strongly.
Even if you want to write them off as self-obsessed, they’re certainly not narcissistic – and calling them that is actually simplifying a pretty serious personality disorder.
So what then, is narcissism?
And how can you tell if the person on your Facebook ‘wall’ is a narcissist or just a harmless chap who talks too much?
1. It’s Not Just Having a Big Ego
Narcissus – who the disorder is named after – fell in love with his own image. He lost the will to live soon after, as nothing interested him as much as looking at himself. Eventually, he withered away.
Narcissism does obviously include and imply fixation with oneself, but it is not limited to that. While arrogance and self-absorption are symptoms of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they alone don’t define the personality or the disorder.
If you dismiss narcissism as mere self-love, you’re disregarding the effects of the disorder on people who actually have it, as well as the people around them.
2. It’s Their Selfishness Which is the Biggest Turn Off
While self-indulgent attitudes can be annoying, it’s not particularly harmful to others. What is harmful though, is a narcissist’s surprising lack of empathy – something that keeps people from forming bonds with them.
A narcissist can go to great lengths to procure for themselves first, while disadvantaging the other. They are inherently incapable of caring for someone else’s feelings, and don’t think twice before exploiting them for their personal gain.
It is this part of their personalities that causes a hindrance to love and friendship.
3. They Can be Very Good Leaders
(Are you also thinking Donald Trump?)
A well-educated narcissist can be a force to reckon with in the workplace. Their self-absorption and need to prove their importance to others acts like a driving force and encourages them to work harder and better than anyone else. Their charm, communication skills and penchant for risk taking make them darn good leaders!
According to research, a lot many head-hunters will actually hunt for a narcissist in order to employ them in leadership roles.
4. They’re Lonely
Narcissists, for all their self-glory, can be extremely insecure. This insecurity makes them feel vulnerable about what people are thinking about them – which is why they distance themselves from others, socially.
These people can also escalate between aggressive behaviour and great feelings of shame about themselves.
The end result? A great amount of loneliness.
5. Parents Who are Too-Loving or Unloving Might Have a Role
If you thought parenting had a role to play in the development of narcissism, you might be right.
Children who are brought up in a neglectful manner – or have parents who are cold and unloving OR in contrast, are too indulgent – might have a bent towards a narcissistic personality.
It must be noted though that while parenting may have a role – it is not an independent factor.
6. Could Narcissism be a Way for Them to Avoid Fear?
Research in the sphere of personalities and narcissism have found links between fear, anxiety and NPD. This means that their self-love and need for attention may actually be strategies to avoid feelings of fear and anxiety.
Narcissists believe that if they let themselves feel and be driven away by the fear, they may even become prone to suicidal tendencies.
If you’re wondering whether you qualify, there is an inventory that can be found online called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which detects NPD.
However? It is best taken under the supervision of a mental health expert.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)
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