Narcissism: Things to Think About

Understanding Narcissism

As the old joke goes, “I know I have been talking a lot about myself and all my accomplishments, there were quite a few, of course. But I really should stop talking about myself. So, what do you think about me?”

I imagine we all have been in the position of the listener above. Somebody goes on to talk about themselves and we might wonder, “When will this end?” There can be any number of reasons why somebody places themselves in the center, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person is a narcissist. 

It’s quite possible, for example, that the person is excited and wants to share something important that happened. Or perhaps the person grew up in an environment where accomplishments were denied or minimized, so the ability to talk about self is an important self-growth step and intention. 

 

Think Continuum

It can be helpful to think of most behaviors, and categories of behaviors on a continuum. I went to a workshop on autism years ago where the presenter, an experienced psychologist, believed that we all fall on a continuum of any number of mental health issues. He spoke of autism, depression and bipolar disorder for example. However, it doesn’t mean we have that diagnosis. 

Expression of symptoms can range from mild to severe. The occurrence can range from seldom to daily. 

Think Situational

Sometimes “symptoms” are situational. Perhaps the stars line up in what we might call a “perfect storm” of unlikely things leading to unlikely behavior.

I heard an interview with an author who wrote about her experience as a former cult member. At the time she joined she was a very successful attorney, but was uncharacteristically overwhelmed and lacked confidence. She described a series of perfect storms that led to her search. It was at that time she happened to be exposed to a group that seemed like the answer to her emotional pain and difficulties. Later, she discovered, this decision had a disastrous impact on her life.

On reflection she stated that her exposure to this group happened at a vulnerable time in her life. She stated that 99% of the time she would never have considered joining this group.

Beyond Continuum and Situational Explanations

As we all know, narcissism has been in the news, a lot. Awareness of narcissistic traits and patterns has lead some people to wonder about others in their lives, or even themselves and whether there is evidence of narcissism. By the way, a person with narcissist personality disorder isn’t likely to see their behavior as a problem.  

So while we must be careful with labels, and technically a diagnosis like narcissism should only be made by a trained mental health professional, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be more informed.

When To Be Concerned

A while back I was asked to write an article for the “I’m Asking a Friend” series by Thrive Global. I cover the clinical definitions of narcissism and when to be concerned.

I think this is a pretty good article. But enough of that, what do you think?

Below is the link to the article.

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