Narcissism is real of course, but it is also a label many people use to describe people they just don’t like. Is everyone who offends you a narcissist? No!
True pathological narcissism is actually a lot rarer than you would think. Most people who are reputed to be narcissists are actually victims of a very over used label. It is healthy to have an ego, it is healthy to indulge in the occasional selfie, and there is nothing wrong with talking about your accomplishments. Sure, these people could be guilty of being a bit too vain but that doesn’t make them narcissists.
A diagnosis of pathological narcissism (which is a mental health disorder) involves a whole lot more than just whether or not someone is full of themselves. The disorder can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional and is only suspected when a person’s narcissistic traits actually impair their daily functions.
It is a mistake to assume that all narcissists will be so obvious. Not all narcissists care about things like looks or money. If you focus solely on the stereotype you will miss all of the big red flags, most of which have nothing to do with greed or vanity. The main thing most subtypes of narcissists have in common is self-enhancement. Narcissists do feel superior to others but that does not mean they are satisfied with themselves as people.
There is actually a new concept to narcissism that links up with depression. Seth Rosenthal a research specialist at Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication whose doctoral research was on narcissism says that narcissists have a need to feel verified by the world around them. They are likely to have high highs and low lows because of this. When reality catches up to them in the long-run they may react by becoming depressed.
When disappointment cuts through narcissists’ thick layer of self-promotion and rattles their core their boiling rage or sadness might even motivate them to seek help. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) even advises clinicians that people with NPD might present with a depressed mood. That being said, that rarely come in seeking out treatment for narcissism in general. This, however, does not mean they are oblivious to their narcissistic traits.
A study done, in 2011 and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled “You Probably Think This Paper’s About You” reported that narcissists do in fact have a bit of insight into their personalities. They even go so far as to describe themselves as arrogant. It seems childhood experiences may play a big role in narcissism but high levels of NPD generally tend to arise from the combined influences of nature and nurture, something thought to begin in genes.
Kali Trzesniewski a social-development psychologist at the University of California says that:
“There are personality traits we come into the world with,”
“Though there are always people who don’t seem to react to their environment; they’re just kind of resilient to it.”
The question of whether or not narcissism itself is on the rise these days is something of a controversy in the research community. No matter how you look at it, you have to take into account that what we consider to be normal has changed. It does not seem fair to make a cross-generational comparison when you take technology into account. When we are younger it seems we all have a bit more narcissism in us. It is a logical developmental trend.
Many people with healthy levels of narcissism are falsely labeled as narcissists in this day and age and it needs to stop. Self-esteem is healthy, narcissism is something entirely different. If you aren’t a professional then your diagnosis of someone is merely opinion and should be kept to yourself.