It’s election season in the United States. A time when a handful of individuals willingly sear themselves on the national spotlight, holding themselves up as the most qualified to effect the lives of tens of millions? Who wants it so bad that they march headlong into a non-stop, international vivisection? Maybe the narcissist.
Everyone has a little narcissism in them, wanting to look good, be liked and achieve success. It’s part of good self-esteem and a healthy ego.
When those feelings are taken to the extreme on a regular basis, it stops being healthy and becomes something that can be diagnosed: narcissistic personality disorder.
It Used To Be Mad Love
The terms narcissist and narcissism come from the Greek myth of Narcissus who so loved himself that he stared at his own reflection in a pool of water until he died, happily.
What else was there in life to enjoy or admire but himself? What better to do with that life than bask in his own glow?
The Mind of A Narcissist
With narcissistic personality disorder there really is nothing greater or more deserving than you. It’s not just what you see in the mirror, more than vanity gone mad. You are more fit, more handsome, just better than anyone else. It feels like an honest, well-deserved arrogance. You only brag to get the recognition that’s your just due.
It’s a deeper self-love that doesn’t need to accept personal flaws. It never even recognizes them. Though it is quick to put down any loser that points out your flaws.
Psychologically, you can be so grandiose that you only see things in terms of how they connect to you.
Who’s Better Than You?
Having narcissistic personality disorder means craving attention and praise. Not recognizing people as whole people but ends to gratify your ego and lust.
It also means a lack of empathy for others. You aren’t able to recognize the emotions or viewpoints of another person. If certain people are giving you your fix in flattery, providing you narcissistic supply, you may perceive them as extensions of you but still not equal, actual people.
They are there to laugh at your jokes, tell you what a good job you did or believe it when you lie to cover the poor job you did.
A narcissist is someone who would rather be admired than liked. They are prone to shorter relationships because it usually doesn’t take long for people to spot their self-centered manipulation. Though they can do well with the codependent in a toxic symbiosis.
Most narcissists excel at making a great first impression and finding new friends though so they don’t mind getting rid of the old ones. Someone starts critiquing you? That’s that losers problem. Leave them and find something better. You can always do better.
How Good Do You Think You Are?
Think any of this applies to you? The standard for diagnosis has changed recently but you can still check.
If you are dying to know, you can take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory test. A high score doesn’t guarantee that you are a raging narcissist but, like the title suggests, it’s useful for taking inventory of your personality and seeing if treatment is something you should look into.
Most people with narcissistic personality disorder know that they are narcissists. They just don’t see a negative side to it.
That makes treatment difficult since someone that doesn’t admit to having faults isn’t likely to ask for help, let alone pursue therapy which takes longer to be effective in this case.
This isn’t necessarily a lifelong condition though.
Babies are narcissists. It takes them a while to figure out that there are things outside themselves. Most of us will show signs of narcissism if not full on narcissistic personality disorder, peaking in the early 20s when mature relationships develop.
It may be caused by genetic factors. Studies have found less gray matter in the brains of people with the disorder, particularly those effecting empathy and control over emotions.
There are also links to environmental factors. Manipulation can be learned during development. Overly focused parenting or exceedingly high praise out of proportion can contribute. Also, a lack of attention or excess criticism can also see narcissistic personality disorder develop.
So listen up for the hyperbole. Watch out for the grand hand movements. They are all around you, think that they are better than you and they aren’t afraid to show it.
But you didn’t really need anyone telling you that.
Check back next week (if you think there are things even you don’t know yet) for more health and fitness.