What is narcissism? Definition and Explanation

The term ‘narcissism’ which is quite a common personality disorder these days derives its origin from Greek mythology character Narcissus. Narcissus was the son of river god Cephissus and beautiful nymph Liriope. He was a handsome young hunter hailing from Thespiae but, was pompous in nature and was blinded by his love for himself. Once he was lured by Nemesis, who was fully aware of his personality, cunningly made him see his own reflection in a water body and fell in love with it. Narcissus failed to realize that it was just a reflection of his appearance but, he became so captivated by his reflection that he was incapable of stop staring at it. Ultimately, he lost his will to live and died while staring at his reflection.

Thus, narcissism can be defined as a person’s infatuation with one’s public perception.

Although, narcissism shouldn’t be confused with high self-esteem or healthy self-love. To bring more clarity to the concept, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) widely followed by therapists as a guide, explains characteristics of narcissistic people. But, it is essential to remember that narcissism is a diverse disorder, meaning it is not necessary that all of these traits have to be present to diagnose a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NDP).

Following are few major traits commonly found in people suffering from NDP:

  1. Imposes Supremacy and Entitlement
  2. Abnormal requirement of validation and attention from others
  3. Unwillingness to embrace imperfections
  4. Constant need to be in control
  5. Unrealistic goals and dreams about unlimited authority, victory, and love
  6. Accepts responsibility if things go right otherwise blames and deflects on people most close to him/her
  7. Exploits other people to achieve his own objectives.
  8. Has no regard for feelings and needs of the rest of the people.
  9. Has no sense of boundaries
Share on: