What is Narcissism? Often overused, and little understood. People think it refers to personality traits that involve excessive amounts of self-love, self-admiration, arrogance, and vanity.
All personality traits, including narcissism, can be viewed on a continuum from little to extreme. We all share narcissistic traits at times. However, a small sector of the population (about 6.2%) is what can be considered extreme. These people can be clinically diagnosed with a personality disorder known as NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).
It is not known for certain what is the cause of narcissism, and research indicates that a combination of genetic and environmental factors combines to deny young children their primary needs, then to shame them into believing they are fatally flawed, ugly, unwanted, and emotionally abandoned. These wounds create incredibly low self-esteem, held in place by inverted shame. At their core, they see themselves as the cause and are deeply ashamed. Dealing with this pain is no easy matter and as a pure survival mechanism, they created a false image of themselves as lovable, adorable, successful, and wanted by everyone.
It is this projected image that leads to the impression that narcissists are in love with themselves. In reality, they suffer from deep self-loathing.
There are at least eight subtypes of narcissism. Perhaps the subtype that we are most familiar with is the public figure, super-successful business person, athlete, actor, or musician. These people are so driven to succeed that they are widely admired and respected. However, pay attention to the bodies by the side of the road!
Even though the projected image isn’t real, narcissists tend to be very defensive and hostile whenever anyone suggests that they aren’t how they present themselves. They will engage in various deflection mechanisms to shift the blame, shame, and to appear successful while their opponent looks like a loser.
If you suspect, you may have NPD tendencies and wonder if there is any hope for you, the good news is YES! Help is available. Remember that everyone falls somewhere on the Narcissistic Continuum.
The GOLDZONE Narcissistic Behavior Checklist was originally based on the work of Joseph Burgo, edited and expanded for a GOLDZONE context. We highly recommend Joseph’s books.
DOWNLOAD a copy of the checklist below: