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The psychology of narcissism – W. Keith Campbell


Way before the first selfie,
the ancient Greeks and Romans had a myth
about someone a little too obsessed
with his own image.
In one telling,
Narcissus was a handsome guy wandering
the world in search of someone to love.
After rejecting a nymph named Echo,
he caught a glimpse
of his own reflection in a river,
and fell in love with it.
Unable to tear himself away,
Narcissus drowned.
A flower marked the spot of where he died,
and we call that flower the Narcissus.
The myth captures
the basic idea of narcissism,
elevated and sometimes
detrimental self-involvement.
But it’s not just a personality type
that shows up in advice columns.
It’s actually a set of traits classified
and studied by psychologists.
The psychological definition of narcissism
is an inflated, grandiose self-image.
To varying degrees, narcissists think
they’re better looking,
smarter,
and more important than other people,
and that they deserve special treatment.
Psychologists recognize two forms
of narcissism as a personality trait:
grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.
There’s also narcissistic
personality disorder,
a more extreme form,
which we’ll return to shortly.
Grandiose narcissism
is the most familiar kind,
characterized by extroversion,
dominance,
and attention seeking.
Grandiose narcissists pursue
attention and power,
sometimes as politicians,
celebrities,
or cultural leaders.
Of course, not everyone who pursues
these positions of power is narcissistic.
Many do it for very positive reasons,
like reaching their full potential,
or helping make people’s lives better.
But narcissistic individuals seek power
for the status
and attention that goes with it.
Meanwhile, vulnerable narcissists
can be quiet and reserved.
They have a strong sense of entitlement,
but are easily threatened or slighted.
In either case, the dark side of
narcissism shows up over the long term.
Narcissists tend to act selfishly,
so narcissistic leaders may make risky
or unethical decisions,
and narcissistic partners may be dishonest
or unfaithful.
When their rosy view of themselves
is challenged,
they can become resentful and aggressive.
It’s like a disease where the sufferers
feel pretty good,
but the people around them suffer.
Taken to the extreme,
this behavior is classified
as a psychological disorder
called narcissistic personality disorder.
It affects one to two percent
of the population,
more commonly men.
It is also a diagnosis
reserved for adults.
Young people, especially children,
can be very self-centered,
but this might just be a normal
part of development.
The fifth edition of the American
Psychiatric Association’s
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
describes several traits associated
with narcissistic personality disorder.
They include a grandiose view of oneself,
problems with empathy,
a sense of entitlement,
and a need for admiration or attention.
What makes these trait a true
personality disorder
is that they take over people’s lives
and cause significant problems.
Imagine that instead of caring
for your spouse or children,
you used them as a source
of attention or admiration.
Or imagine that instead of seeking
constructive feedback
about your performance,
you instead told everyone
who tried to help you
that they were wrong.
So what causes narcissism?
Twin studies show
a strong genetic component,
although we don’t know
which genes are involved.
But environment matters, too.
Parents who put their child
on a pedestal
can foster grandiose narcissism.
And cold, controlling parents
can contribute to vulnerable narcissism.
Narcissism also seems to be higher
in cultures that value individuality
and self-promotion.
In the United States, for example,
narcissism as a personality trait
has been rising since the 1970s,
when the communal focus of the 60s
gave way to the self-esteem movement
and a rise in materialism.
More recently, social media has multiplied
the possibilities for self-promotion,
though it’s worth noting
that there’s no clear evidence
that social media causes narcissism.
Rather, it provides narcissists a means
to seek social status and attention.
So can narcissists improve
on those negative traits?
Yes!
Anything that promotes honest reflection
on their own behavior
and caring for others,
like psychotherapy or practicing
compassion towards others, can be helpful.
The difficulty is it can be challenging
for people with
narcissistic personality disorder
to keep working at self-betterment.
For a narcissist, self-reflection is hard
from an unflattering angle.

100
Comments
  • I like the way the last statement was presented – the narcissist finds self-reflection hard…from an unflattering angle. Isn't it ironical that modern life has so much of chasing after flattery that made true self-reflection so difficult? The environment has actually bred more narcissistic people than inheriting genetically acquired ones. The last statement has such double meaning which makes it so bewildering.

  • What if Narcissus looked at a mirror, instead? How would he have died?

    He probably made out with the mirror and ate it.

  • i've been thinking recently im a vulnerable narcissist. i don't want to be one but it's hard to help it, i always feel like my parents don't give me freedom of choice and i'm just the person they built- i'm not really myself. i don't actually know who i really am.

  • My ex boyfriend showed me this video when we were having a bad patch. He said I was a vulnerable narcisst and that he was fine. After we broke up, I was so upset by being called a narcisst that I got therapist to teach me self confidence and better positive outlook. She told me that I was a never a narcisstic but someone who was acutely depressed.

  • I think we need to distinguish between highly skilled people who understand realistically what their skill level is, and narcissists who have a self image that is above and beyond what reality bears out. If Isaac Newton called himself a genius (which he probably didn’t, but hypothetically) then you could not reasonably say that was narcissistic.

  • Narcissism, one very misunderstood idea , it's simply that portion of the population able to think for themselves and tell others what to think .

  • TedEd you said narcissist tend to have a sadistic trait . I just realized I love when people are jealous with me , and a bit heartbreak when knowing someone is better at something than me . But i keep it to myself , trying not to show it , am I a narcisist ?

  • I know exactly what narcissism narcissistic is because I have narcissistic personality disorder it's in the cluster B section of personnel disorders and if they hit you up I am all that and a bag of chips and no I'm not free to lay!

  • This video makes a number of claims that are completely false. Narcissists cannot change and most doctors agree that any attempt to modify their behavior will be a futile effort. A highly inaccurate video.

  • I cant even watch a video about psycology without having to see politicized BS. Trump isnt a narcissist, he is just funny, because he isnt fake. Before mainstream news and Trevor Noah propoganda against Trump was around, minorities and most libs had no problem with Trump's personality. He was actually cool…There are relatively recent raps with Trumps name in them.

  • This video defames confidence; full potential depicted as narcissism prior to explaining the difference make the illustrations in fact, narcissistic. #psychology

  • I feel the main reason we end up with a Narcissist partner is being skeptical about running a private check-up on who we’re dealing with in a relationship. My worst experience was discovering my 8 years wife cheating on me through the help of Cyberhackingsage who helped cloned her cell phone. All i did was share my wife’s number with Cyberhackingsage and i got access to her Facebook, WhatsApp and text messages both deleted and incoming ones with a link on my phone. Now i have enough evidence to put it right to her face. Contact him, he’s a Genius!( [email protected] )+14242362391 and thank me later.

  • A word is enough for the wise and It is also important to apply wisdom when dealing with our partners. I got help from cyberhackinggenius as he helped cloned my cheating wife’s phone and I got access to all her phone text messages and social media chats without touching her phone. All I did was share my wife’s phone number with Cyberhackinggenius. I was able to read her recent and deleted messages from my phone without laying my hands on her phone and she has no idea her phone has been cloned. I discovered that my wife has been in a long term affair outside our marriage with so many proofs. You can contact this great Hacker Gavin via Gmail (cyberhackinggenius) or text and speak to him directly on his phone and WhatsApp : +19256795146

  • Loving God's reflection within you is uplifting but ego love is destructive… "Self-love is a strange trait and the means of the destruction of many important souls in the world. If man be imbued with all good qualities but be selfish, all the other virtues will fade or pass away and eventually he will grow worse." ~ Baha'i Faith

  • You just HAD to throw in a little political bit. I get sick of folks that do that when it isn't necessary. Many people benefit from videos, but putting political stuff in them gets old. We are watching to learn something. I would think that the person making the video would want to reach EVERYONE. Not just those that share the same political views.

  • People, please don't watch this video and self-diagnose! The traits mentioned in these videos are actually common, only that narcissists have more extreme cases of them. Many people think they're smarter / more capable than others, but that alone doesn't make them a narcissist.

  • I feel the main reason we end up with a Narcissist partner in a relationship is being skeptical about running a background check-up on who we’re dealing with. My worst experience was discovering my 8 years wife cheating on me through the help of Cyberhackingsage who helped cloned her cell phone. All i did was share my wife’s number with Cyberhackingsage and i got access to her Facebook, WhatsApp and text messages both deleted and incoming ones with a link on my phone. Contact him, he’s a Genius!( [email protected] ) or Text/Call/WhatsApp +15713758467. thank me later

  • I actually became narcissistic because I was often bullied when I was younger and lost a lot of friends. I thought it was my only way out of that, and still think like a narcissist to this day. I honestly always thought I deserved a lot and would start crying when I didn’t get what I wanted, even though I didn’t really feel “sad”, I was just crying to get attention. Remember kids, don’t act like a narcissist because you may just become one

  • My dad’s a narcissistic, and I’ve been a narcissistic ever since I was 14🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺I don’t like living like this 😔😔😔

  • I am a narcissist. I started with nothing and today I drive an Aston Martin. Such videos are made for the weaks and losers to feel better about their pathetic life.

  • AND narcissistic personality disorder can directly hurt another person to the point of suicide. They are manipulative and very much knowing their faults project a lack of self recognition for bad decision to others. Basically everyone else has issues but me and I dont need to change. Therefore I will keep hurting someone else because they deserve it for what they've done. You will hardly see them go to therapy because they cant see something wrong in themselves and accept that

  • I feel Narcissism is brought on by trauma and a need for control. I think that demons are looking for an open door to enter and control people and using trauma affords an opportunity for them, thank God for my friend who referred me to an hacker and i was able to hack my partner's phone, all i did was to share his phone number with (geniustracker) without touching his phone and see all the proofs i needed for a divorce and even terrible things they had planned contact him to help he is a genius. You can text/call +1 (415) 323-6758 or reach him on WhatsApp +1 (724) 330-3252 and also write to Via Gmail (geniustracker701) thank me later…

  • I have a professor who is a narcissist, he uses his students who are talented but not more talented than him to make his advanced groups. One girls stepfather died and when she said she was going to his funeral he asked her to come to him and discuss the relation between her and the deceased and basically asked her if it was really more important than attending his class. When students have personal things going on and those personal things take attention or effort away from him he’ll just fail them for the day and express how disappointed he is we can’t be professional and block things out of our minds. He also prefers his female students and voids his male students any opportunity. I’ve gone to all the proper school authorities with other students to complain about his behavior but he seems to be untouchable. I’ve been a student of his for years and I’m confident that he is a narcissist.

  • This is a pretty lousy description of a narcissist. A better one would be "do they leave you feeling cold after you've been with them?".

  • I will have to disagree in some things. The communal focus of the sixties were more narcissist than the materialistic 80s. Narcissists don't really care about money, they care more about recognition and fame.

  • هل في مجال اخذ نفس الفيديو و اركب عليه صوتي ؟ و بالعربي ؟

  • If youd like a free copy of my EBook about dealing with Narcissists, called "Is it Really your fault?" Let me know! Xx

  • I suspected my wife of cheating on me but I never had any proof. This went on for months, I didn't know what to do. i was so paranoid and decided to find a solution, i saw a recommendation about a private investigator and decided to contact him. I explained the situation about my wife to him and he said he was going to help me.I gave him all the informations he required and afterwards i received all my wife’s Iphones Text messages, whatsApp messages and calls, I was hurt when i saw a picture of my wife and her lover. I feel so bad about infidelity. but i am glad Mr james was able to help me get all this information, you can contact him via Gmail (worldcyberhackers) or whatsApp : +12678773020

  • There's a huge epidemic of narcissism in the world right now. Just look at how many people talk themselves up on social media…It's why I chose to avoid it as much as possible.

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