He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals

Narcissus weeps to find that his image does not return his love

Mason Cooley

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). Except in the sense of healthy self-love, narcissism is usually considered a problem in a person’s relationships with self and others.

In today’s world, the term “narcissistic” has come to mean little more than vain. But narcissism is far more complex than that. It exists in many shades along with a continuum from extra-healthy ego to pathological grandiosity.

Narcissists like to be the centre of attention – they dominate conversations, they feel compelled to talk about themselves, and they exaggerate their accomplishments. Their common fabrications are easy to excuse as little white lies but really they serve a riskier purpose: to shore up an idealized version of their self to distract from the intolerable fear that actually they may not be good enough.

Narcissists love to give unsolicited advice and are in the habit of doing so. They seize any and every opportunity to demonstrate their superior knowledge and insight. Narcissists are always a little more in the know, they seem to have the inside info on everything. By acting more sophisticated than everyone else they bolster their inflated sense of self.

Narcissists hate waiting in line or waiting for anything and everything. On some level, they feel they deserve special treatment. Whatever a narcissist’s needs are, they need to be met immediately. They also want automatic compliance because they are that important. Conscious of it or not, they live with a sense of entitlement, and for better or worse, expect the world to revolve around them.

It’s one thing to shoot for the stars, and then work your butt off to get there. It’s quite another to believe you are destined for greatness. That type of grandiose assumption is a classic symptom of narcissists. They tend to believe they are naturally special, and part of an elite class that deserves only the best. They also prefer to associate with other “high-status” people and may obsess over status symbols — and even belittle anyone who they don’t perceive to be part of the same exclusive club.

Narcissists have got a knack for making other people feel important. Relationships probably move quickly, like the intoxicating, whirlwind romances of storybooks. But all the admiration they shower on the other person is part of an unspoken deal: They expect the other person to make them feel attractive and intelligent. The minute the other person questions or criticizes them, the gig is up, and they send the other person from the pedestal to the trash heap.

In a narcissist’s worldview, there are winners and losers and the narcissist needs to win in virtually every domain — a relentless quest to prove their dominance. The compulsive drive to come out on top (no matter who ends up on bottom) makes it difficult to celebrate other people’s successes —because, at that moment, someone else is the “winner.”

Narcissists hold grudges — they care deeply about maintaining their idealized image of themselves and have trouble tolerating any sort of disapproval or insult. No matter how small a criticism, they perceive it as a huge assault or a personal attack, one they’re unlikely to forget and may never forgive. If a narcissist is slighted or abandoned, they don’t get over it, they get angry and seek revenge, in one form or another.

Narcissists refuse to be held accountable for their mistakes and bad behaviour and instead shift the blame to someone else.

Narcissists take advantage of people — it may not be intentional, but it happens. The reason — a lack of empathy or the inability to tune into the emotional world of other. Narcissists expect others to revolve around their needs, but they refuse to do the same for anyone else. Basically, a narcissist isn`t afraid to manipulate or bully whoever is in their way.

Narcissists are addicts, e.g alcohol, plastic surgery, shopping—it doesn’t matter. The addicted narcissist keeps turning to the ‘drug’ again and again to get that incredible on-top-of-the-world feeling. When the ‘drug’ wears off, they are often filled with shame. But, when the shame becomes unbearable, they turn to the ‘drug’ again.

Causes of narcissistic personality disorder are not yet well-understood. Genetic and biological factors, as well as, the environment and early life experiences are all thought to play a role in the development of this condition.

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder can be challenging because people with this condition present with a great deal of grandiosity and defensiveness, which makes it difficult for them to acknowledge problems and vulnerabilities. Individual and group psychotherapy may be useful in helping people with narcissistic personality disorder relate to others in a healthier and more compassionate way. Mentalization-based therapy, transference-focused psychotherapy, and schema-focused psychotherapy have all been suggested as effective ways of treating narcissistic personality disorder.

Written by