About Narcissism, Narcissistic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder
I'm not sure when exactly it started, but about 20 years ago the word narcissistic suddenly submerged in your language culture. In the eighties the exact same thing happened with the word psychopathic. The problem I have with things like this is that the use of words that have a certain meaning by people that are ' not allowed ' results in degradation of this meaning. And thus 17 year old drunk Martin who kicks against an empty can at 1.27 am in a quiet alley down town and wakes up grumpy old Margaret who stopped going out long ago, but absolutely ' must ' live in the city center, becomes a psychopath.
And by the same logic is everybody who puts a selfy to much on Facebook infected with narcissism nowadays.
That' s the way things go. Society is alive, language is alive. Words get more then one meaning. Everyday denotations and scientific denotations. And countless and countless connotations. This does not always make is easier to have a dialog. When I'm talking about a Narcissist, I'm generally referring to the person that is officially diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. When the average person mentions narcissist, they mean some kind of asshole-ish-type guy. There is quite a difference.
With the attention some public figures have gotten in the past years the attention for everything that is even remotely connected with narcissism had grown to insane heights. Think about Donald Trump, Steve Jobs. Somehow, that has been a good thing, because narcissism is as well a blessing as a curse. The negative side however is i.m.o. strongly over emphasized in the media and regularly confused with a couple of other personality disorders, which I – as diagnosed narcissist – find particularly annoying. I'm not proud of this diagnoses, but it is part of who I am. And I do stand for myself. Because when I – because I am a narcissist – am compared with malicious systematically exploiting, plotting, abusive, emotionless, anti-social individuals, I will speak up. That is not narcissism, those are not even Narcissists. That is no narcissistic behavior.
Than what is Narcissism? Narcissism is a natural defense mechanism that everybody inherits genetically and that takes makes sure we take good care of ourselves and possible shortcomings. It motivates us and it takes care of a need of recognition and respect. Narcissism is healthy. Because it has been put in a bad daylight lately, we often talk about healthy narcissism.
Narcissistic behavior is – following logic – behavior that shows that the person that displays this behavior uses narcissism as a mechanism. We all do this on a daily basis, mostly without even thinking. Most people apply narcissism the right way, at the right time in the right amount. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But there are people that seem to be incapable of that. Those apply narcissism when it is not okay to do so. Or in amounts that are unfit for the situation. That is unhealthy narcissism.
And that happens. Everybody has bad hair days. Everybody misunderstands a situation, does not quite catch something is a joke, etc. etc. There are plenty of examples we can think of why someone would react with unhealthy narcissistic behavior in a certain situation. No problem. Shit happens. You apologize, you feel ashamed for a little while, life goes on.
Though some people display this behavior systematically. And those are particularly special.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
When a person displays this kind of behavior systematically, to react from out of a subconscious competitive (and thus defensive) mindset to situations that do not justify such reactions, this tells us something about this person. To wit, this person perceives being attacked. This is the core of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder: the Narcissist feels personally attacked very, very often.
The Narcissist elevates feeling attacked into an art. Also comments on assets, possessions and achievements the Narcissist will be able to perceive as personal insult. Even comments on things or organizations the narcissists identifies with like companies, charities, employers or sport clubs. But also tv-series, writers, even scientific theories the Narcissist likes.
The reason for this is that the Narcissist does not have any self-worth. Or if you want, the narcissist has no real “Self”. It should formulate that in another way. Actually the narcissist has two selves. A primary and a secondary self. Or as they are often called: a “true self” and a “false self”.
About the primary or true self are several opinions common. One says that it is a dark cold empty space, one says that it is a dark cold space filled with nothing but misery and trauma and one says that it does not exist at all. Depending on who you ask when, you will get a different description. This is the easiest one though.
The secondary or false self namely is one that is completely depending on perception. How it looks completely depends on who you are asking. Not three options but countless options. One thing all these options have in common: Non of them are completely realistic, especially that of the narcissist themselves. Yet, this is the self that they present to the world. It is the image as they would like to be seen. But they derive it from their environment. Because Narcissists don't have a self of their own, they borrow / steal / copy traits and aspects from their surroundings and project those onto themselves. This way they create a bond with their environment, they become their environment. And that explains why they are so sensitive to criticism to some parts of their environment. When you are your environment, criticism on the environment, is criticism on you.