Narcissistic Behavior: What to do about them?

We all know that we are living in a technology era where it is possible even to take pictures of ourselves anytime and anywhere, as well as beautify them on a photo editor app all at once with a handy gadget called smart phone. However, some of us are taking it too far. They are taking selfies at the funerals—with wide smiles—or even at the top of very high buildings!

The next thing we know, taking selfies is now considered a narcissistic behavior as it indicates too much self-love. Is it true? Well, in fact, I’m going to show you more than that—and what to do about them. Keep reading.

A Narcissist: Behind the Name

Let’s start with the name. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)—or also known as “narcissism”—got its name from Greek mythological character, Narcissus. I bet you have heard of him before. Described as exaggerated self-love, pride, and selfishness (or egoism), the psychological condition really represents Narcissus who loved himself too much that he fell for his own reflection on a lake.

Narcissus thought he fell in love with someone else that showed up in the lake, but once he was aware he was wrong, he passed away over the sorrow for loving someone that never existed (his own reflection).

Narcissism was first introduced in 1967 by Otto Friedmann Kernberg, a psychoanalyst from Vienna, Austria under the jargon “narcissistic personality mythological structure.” Thus, in the following year, Heinz Kohut, another Austrian psychoanalyst proposed the term “narcissistic personality disorder” which remains the same until today.

What’s considered as a Narcissistic Behavior?

Being a personality disorder, NPD is characterized by narcissistic behavior, such as excessive self-admiration, egoism, or less empathy. People with the condition are very ambitious in achieving success, power, or perfect appearance most of the time. Sadly, in reaching their goals, they often use the others around them. Narcissistic behavior usually starts to happen when one grows into a young adult.

Based on the DSM-5 (a diagnosis method for NPD), an individual with the personality disorder is indicated by the following behaviors:

  • An exaggerated sense of pride.
  • Obsession of daydreams on the infinite power, beauty, success, perfect love, and brilliance.
  • Overrated confidence for being special and that one can only be accepted by the other special people or associations.
  • A necessity for excessive self-admiration.
  • A sense that one deserves special treatments and obedience from the others.
  • A tendency to take advantage of the others in reaching one’s goals.
  • Absence of empathy.
  • The envious feeling of certain people.
  • Arrogance or haughtiness.

Also, according to the diagnosis of DSM-5, a person with NPD can be more irritated when receiving criticism from others or when defeated by his/her biggest rivals. However, despite their excessive self-pride, a narcissist can also withdraw himself from society and show fake humbleness to seek more attention from the other people around. So, it is important to raise your awareness of the condition.

A Narcissist in the Making: The Causes

Speaking of the causes, I’m afraid I have to say that what makes the personality disorder to happen is not yet fully understood. The experts can only tell us that genetic and environment factors could play a big role in developing the condition.

According to a study by Arnold Cooper and Leonard Groopman—professional psychiatrists from New York, The US, the following factors may be responsible for the development of the rare personality disorder:

  • An overly sensitive temper as a birth trait.
  • Overrated praises for good deeds or—on the other hand—exaggerated criticism for bad deeds in childhood.
  • The imbalanced ratio between admiration and feedback from parents to their children.
  • Getting spoilt by parents and other family members.
  • Praises for physical appearance or abilities by the adults.
  • Getting verbally and emotionally abused as a child.
  • Lacking care or attention from parents.
  • Observing manipulative manners by parents or peers.

How to Deal with Them

Despite the fact that NPD is a rare psychological condition—being fewer than 150,000 cases per year in Indonesia, it can also be treated and dealt with. However, please note that the condition is incurable, so high expectation on narcissism to be healed is a mistake.

Treating a narcissist can be very challenging as the condition cause them to be more irritated and defensive. Thus, that makes it even harder to understand their underlying problems. Therefore, it is much recommended to get help from the experts, such as psychotherapy to help the patients show more empathy to others.

Meanwhile, if you happen to have a family member, a friend, or even a partner who has the tendency of being a narcissist, there is a little hint to find out how to deal with the condition—or whether you should get help or even just leave them alone.

A narcissist usually loves to play the emotional “hot potato” game. When you complain about anything that your partner is lacking in the relationship or demand them to do their responsibilities, they will automatically withdraw themselves and attack. Trust me; you’ll eventually get blamed again. It is actually a narcissist’s goal, to make people around them feel guilty even for his/her own mistakes.

Speaking of which, based on many studies, hiding an irritated heart and pride is apparently also one of the narcissistic hallmarks. This is a part of the “hot potato” game they play with you. Sadly, if this happens too often, you are officially in a toxic relationship. If you can talk about it with your partner well, it is good. However, if you need help, get one. As a reminder, a toxic relationship can turn into an abusive one in no time.

So, now that you know that taking selfies is not the only narcissistic behavior ever exists. It is time to be aware and take care.

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