There’s always that one person, the teacher who always thinks she’s right, that boss who’s impossible to please, the classmate who expects constant praise, the family member who always wants the best. Self-centered, arrogant, brash people who always think “I’m right, you’re wrong” are what we refer to as narcissists.
The term “narcissistic,” means being self-centered or having excessive self-love and comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus. In the story, Narcissus – after scorning the love of women and a nymph named Echo – found himself staring at his reflection in a pool of water. Falling in love with his reflection, Narcissus drowned when he reached to embrace the beautiful reflection. Where his body should have been, a beautiful flower grew in its place, which the nymphs called Narcissus.
Today, studies show that this type of behavior is regarded as a disorder, called the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
NPD is an extreme situation of overconfidence and heightened self-importance. It is characterized by some of the following symptoms:
Almost everyone is irritated – even infuriated – with narcissists. The difficult character of a narcissist makes it hard for people to adjust to him or her, mainly because he or she refuses to adjust. Narcissists often monopolize conversations, thinking that they are (or should be) at the center of attention.
Narcissists come across as conceited, brash, arrogant people, but deep inside, they harbor a very fragile sense of self-esteem. If they don’t get the best that they deserve, they easily get hurt and feel rejected. The narcissist has trouble making, keeping, and handling relationships because of his or her difficult personality.
It is difficult to trace the origins of NPD, but people who suffer from it likely have had bad experiences during childhood. Some narcissists may have been spoiled as children, or some may have been abused and neglected. Some develop NPD because they are often admired, but these admirations are not balanced by constructive criticism. Some narcissists harbor a certain sense of shame and a feeling of inadequacy.
Some narcissists have problems seeking psychiatric help from mental health providers. Most cases of NPD don’t require medication or other serious measures; psychiatrists and group therapy all are good ways for a narcissist to get over the problems of having inflated egos. The important thing in dealing with a narcissist is to know that he or she needs help and understanding. Even the narcissist will have to admit that he or she is not invincible. At times, he or she may just be wrong.
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