By Shubham Goswami
A new discourse has been burgeoning in psychology in the recent times. Social media – the 21st-century tool for universal connectedness – is it a catalyst for narcissistic behavior? Well, while there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that social media promotes narcissism, it provides the means for the narcissist to quench his thirst.
Tracing Its Origin
Centuries before the first selfie was clicked, there lived a man called Narcissus in ancient Greece (or so is claimed). In one telling, this man was roaming around the world in search of love and ended up being smitten with his own reflection in a river. Unable to tear himself away, he drowned in the river and a flower (now called Narcissus) marked the spot where he died.
This Greek myth succinctly captures the essence of Narcissism: Elevated and (sometimes) detrimental self-involvement. Psychologists like to define it as an inflated and grandiose self-image. And they go on to study a whole list of traits that qualify as narcissism.
So How Do You Know If You Are A Narcissist?
Well narcissists, to varying degrees think that they are
- BETTER LOOKING
- SMARTER and
- MORE IMPORTANT than other people.
It is their belief that they DESERVE SPECIAL ATTENTION.
If the above don’t apply to you, heave out a sigh! You’re clear.
If they do, errr……well, err…….. my condolences are with you. Nevertheless, do read on! I’m sure you will appreciate my article *wink*!
Can Narcissism Be Classified?
Yes. Psychologists describe two main forms, Grandiose, and Vulnerable.
Grandiose Narcissism is the most familiar one, characterized by extroversion, dominance and attention seeking. Grandiose narcissists pursue attention and power, sometimes as politicians, celebrities, and cultural leaders.
A caveat: Not everyone pursuing attention and power is a narcissist. These attributes can help one achieve his full potential or improve peoples’ lives. But narcissists seek power ONLY for the status and attention that goes with it.
On the other hand, Vulnerable Narcissists are quiet and reserved. They have a strong sense of entitlement that may be easily threatened or slighted.
No matter which class the narcissist belongs to, it is the dark side of narcissism that is manifested in the long term.
- Narcissistic leaders may be prone to take risky or unethical decisions.
- Narcissistic partners may be dishonest or unfaithful.
- Narcissists become aggressive when their rosy view of themselves gets challenged.
Some interesting facts about Narcissism are:
- It is an idiosyncratic disorder where the sufferer feels good and his acquaintances suffer!
- Narcissistic Personality disorder (an extreme form) affects about 2 % of the population.
- And it is men who are more likely to be narcissistic!
Imagine, instead of being a caring husband and a doting father, you use your spouse and children as a source of attention or admiration!
Or imagine that instead of seeking constructive feedback from everyone who tried to help, you told them that they were wrong to criticize you!
That’s how bad it can get.
But What Are The Factors That Nurture Narcissism?
According to psychologists:
- Genetics – though we don’t know which genes.
- Environment – Pampering parents bring up grandiose narcissists while cold, controlling parents bring up vulnerable ones
- Culture – Cultures that value individuality and self-promotion like the U.S. are likely to have a profusion of narcissists
And now the social media is turning out to be the narcissist’s new lifeline with endless possibilities of self-promotion.
Can It Be Cured?
Yes. The good news is that narcissists can improve. Anything that promotes honest reflection of themselves and caring for others like psychotherapy can be beneficial. However un-flattered and honest self-reflection can be difficult for a narcissist.
So now that you know more about narcissism, do think twice before you click one more selfie or post one status too many. Be careful *wink*. Cheers!!
Image Credits: Google Images