Narcissism vs. Narcissistic Tendencies, Defined


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There’s typically a conflation of narcissism being morally “dangerous,” which is comprehensible provided that pathological narcissists can exhibit not-so-virtuous behaviors corresponding to blame shifting, love bombing, gaslighting, and sending unsolicited dick pics (sure, actually).

That stated, having narcissistic tendencies alone does not routinely imply you are a horrible particular person. What’s extra, there’s additionally such a factor as wholesome narcissism. Learn on for the reason and a brand new technique to view narcissism. 

The distinction between narcissism and narcissistic tendencies

“All of us have some extent of narcissism; it’s a continuum,” says scientific psychologist Nancy B. Irwin, PsyD. “Diagnoses are used when there’s an amazing tendency in that route.” 

In different phrases, an individual identified with narcissistic character dysfunction (NPD) meets 5 or extra key standards, together with being entitled and having an inflated sense of self, says Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, an NYC-based neuropsychologist and director of Comprehend the Thoughts. They’re additionally consumed with fantasies of success, energy, magnificence, and attractiveness. They imagine they’re distinctive and superior to others and will solely be related to different high-status individuals and establishments.

Folks with NPD require extreme admiration whereas feeling envious of others and assuming others envy them. Narcissists additionally lack empathy, make the most of different individuals for private achieve, and demean, verbally abuse, and manipulate others—therefore why narcissists make up one third of the darkish triad character traits. 

That stated, Dr. Hafeez notes that somebody who is not identified with NPD can exhibit one or two of those standards, which is known as having narcissistic tendencies. “Narcissistic tendencies can happen attributable to earlier traumas and insecurities that current themselves at occasions,” she explains. Dr. Irwin provides that narcissistic tendencies may also come from a scarcity of applicable parenting expertise and choosing up on social cues. 

As an example, Dr. Hafeez says somebody might obsess over, and search for compliments about, their physique, however that will stem from childhood insecurities and never narcissism. Different examples: “Somebody who brags about their accomplishments could also be attempting to cover insecurity from their adolescence,” she says. Or, “an individual who posts too many photos of themselves on Instagram could also be looking for consideration within the digital world that they’re missing in actual life.”

Why having narcissistic tendencies does not imply you are a foul particular person

With that in thoughts, Dr. Hafeez says having a narcissistic tendency or two does not make somebody a narcissist, nor does it routinely imply they seem to be a “dangerous” particular person. She says narcissistic tendencies typically get roped into being morally dangerous as a result of many individuals do not perceive the scientific which means behind NPD. It is type of like how many individuals do not know the true definition of having OCD (obsessive-compulsive dysfunction) is greater than a “neat freak” stereotype.

The important thing distinction between true narcissists and individuals who have narcissistic tendencies? “Not like these identified with NPD, these with narcissistic tendencies typically really feel empathy for others and deal with the individuals of their lives with kindness,” Dr. Hafeez says. “They do not use or exploit others maliciously.” So, posting one too many selfies on social media does not make you a foul particular person should you’re simply doing it since you’re feeling your self. 

Moreover, Dr. Hafeez says being self-absorbed in some areas of life does not imply you are narcissistic in all areas and having a wholesome dose of narcissism is important to realize objectives in all areas of life, corresponding to health or profession. “Figuring out that you just deserve good issues or being pleased with your accomplishments is wholesome and never disordered,” she says. “Those that reveal wholesome narcissism present self-awareness, perception, and empathy that an individual with NPD doesn’t have.” And she or he provides that it is common and developmentally applicable for adolescents to indicate narcissistic tendencies. 

It is solely when that conduct begins to hurt others to achieve these achievements that it will possibly level to NPD. “Narcissists are usually thought of to lack empathy and be so self-centered that they do not care who they harm so long as they profit,” Dr. Hafeez says.

So, the takeaway: Being all about your self shouldn’t be essentially dangerous, as long as nobody else will get harm within the course of. 


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