from the world's big
According to a licensed clinical psychologist, we need to change the way we define narcissism in order to recognize it more clearly for what it really is.
- Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. It is characterized as a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of self.
- According to the most recent data, narcissistic personality disorder isn't as common as we think, impacting an estimated 1 percent of our population. The confusion lies in how we define the disorder compared to other narcissistic personality traits.
- Dr. Ramani Durvasula explains that we need a clearer definition of what this disorder is in order to recognize it in our society.
What is narcissism?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQyNTQwMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjMwNzcwNX0.lQ8BR0I_yDSXNRrryTyKzBrJIA6_d371CHomBWnnQqw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=700" id="c9537" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1ee04679e2605a285c5b5b56b782e3d0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of ego self praise narcissism narcissistic personality disorder" />
How do we really recognize narcissism?
Image by SvetaZi on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662#:~:text=Narcissistic%20personality%20disorder%20%E2%80%94%20one%20of,lack%20of%20empathy%20for%20others." target="_blank">Narcissistic personality disorder</a> is one of several types of personality disorders and is characterized as a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of self. They have a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, which often leads to troubled relationships. There is an inherent lack of empathy for others and narcissism, despite its outward appearance, is often masking extremely fragile self-esteem constructs.</p><p><strong>Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder: </strong></p><ul><li>An exaggerated sense of self-importance </li><li>A sense of entitlement</li><li>Craving constant admiration or affection</li><li>Expecting to be recognized as a superior</li><li>An ability to monopolize conversations and belittle other people's input </li><li>Can easily become envious of others and believe others envy them</li><li>They may behave arrogantly and appear to be conceited, boastful or pretentious </li><li>Often insists on having "the best" of everything, which will be reflected in their possessions, even if they are things they cannot afford (a new car, etc) </li></ul><p>Narcissism itself is defined as an excessive interest in or admiration of oneself. It's entirely possible to be narcissistic without having the personality disorder...but what is the difference?<br></p><p>With narcissistic personality disorder, the traits and symptoms will be so intense that the person's life, relationships, and jobs may be compromised. A personality disorder is typically diagnosed with the issues extend to negatively <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/qa/can-someone-be-a-narcissist-and-not-have-narcissistic-personality-disorder#:~:text=Someone%20can%20be%20a%20narcissist,it%20disrupts%20his%20daily%20life." target="_blank">impact your daily life</a>. </p>
The psychology of narcissistic personality disorder<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="56179ba5cb00b2a7d444605f4b976b68"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WjuGnzbY_hY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>As <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201908/difference-between-narcissist-vs-narcissistic-behavior" target="_blank">Psychology Today</a> author Preston Ni points out, there is a difference between someone with narcissistic personality disorder and someone who is exhibiting narcissistic behaviors - with the biggest difference lying in the intent.</p><p>A pathological narcissist will often purposefully induce toxic environments and harmful relationships for the purpose of exploiting other people to serve their own agendas. Someone who is considered to have the personality disorder may be caught in frequent lies or exaggerations that make them look good and others look bad, they may manipulate situations for their own gratification, they may also spread negative emotions in order to make themselves feel better. </p><p>While you may think narcissism is common, narcissistic personality disorder only affects <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/narcissism" target="_blank">an estimated</a> 1 percent of the population. </p><p>Narcissism is properly viewed on a spectrum, as with most other mental health conditions. To be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, a person is evaluated with the <a href="https://openpsychometrics.org/tests/NPI/" target="_blank">Narcissistic Personality Inventory</a> (NPI-40). The test consists of 40 pairs of statements to which the person will need to select whichever answer best suits their personality. </p><p><strong>Do narcissists know they are narcissists? </strong></p><p>Using something called a <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/narcissism" target="_blank">Single-Item Narcissism Scale</a>, people who answered affirmatively to the question "are you a narcissist?" were far more likely than others to score highly on the NPI-40. </p><p><strong>Narcissism in relationships</strong></p><p>While you may think someone in your life (perhaps maybe even someone close to you) is a narcissist, it is actually quite difficult for people with narcissistic personality disorder to truly fall in love, because there is an inherent deficit of empathy makes it difficult for them to establish long-term, healthy relationships. </p><p>Psychology Today explains: "For most narcissists, relationships are transactional. They provide positive attention and sexual satisfaction to bolster their ego and self-esteem. The objective [of the relationship] is to enjoy uncommitted pleasure and most individuals struggling with this disorder will begin to lose interest in the relationship as the expectation for commitment and intimacy grows." </p><p><strong>Changing our view on what narcissism really is. </strong></p><p>According to <a href="https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/narcissism" target="_blank">Dr. Ramani Durvasula</a>, a clinical psychologist in Santa Monica, California, narcissism is not just posting selfies on social media or checking your reflection in every surface. While those things can be viewed as narcissistic tendencies, they do not mean the person is a narcissist. </p><p>According to Durvasula, narcissism is woefully misunderstood, which is maybe why we have such a hard time spotting it in people around us. She considers it a "buzz word" of our time, explaining that it's viewed as a disorder of some kind of inflated self-esteem and grandiosity, and while it is those things, it's most importantly a disorder of self-esteem. </p><p>"I often say there are four pillars to narcissism: lack of empathy, grandiosity, a chronic sense of entitlement, and a chronic need to seek out admiration and validation. Those really create the core of the disorder." </p>
A 2017 University of Wisconsin-Madison study was the first of it's kind to show structural differences in the psychopathic brain.
- According to a 2017 study led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, psychopaths have reduced connections in the areas of the brain that control fear, anxiety, empathy and sentimentality.
- Psychopathy is typically diagnosed using a 20-item checklist called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.
- Psychopathic tendencies could be considered "warning signs" of psychopathy, but it's important to note that not everyone who shows psychopathic tendencies becomes a psychopath.
Defining psychopathy<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxMDkwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTk2MTAyOH0.yVAVp2AYmR0i5hPAhhY-R1jafU2y0shl5R35K2rOnCg/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C92%2C0%2C92&height=700" id="531fa" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d45c27dc8187d30f709739ca98c9913f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of psychopathy split personality manipulation and deceit man showing half his true face" />
Psychopathy is typically diagnosed using a 20-item checklist called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.
Photo by FGC on Shutterstock<p>Psychopathy, like many other conditions, is a spectrum. Common traits of psychopaths can include things like superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, manipulation, lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy, behavioral problems in early life, impulsivity, and shallow affect (reduced emotional responses) to name a few.<br></p><p>Psychopathy is typically diagnosed using a 20-item checklist called the <a href="http://www.clintools.com/victims/resources/assessment/personality/psychopathy_checklist.html" target="_blank">Hare Psychopathy Checklist</a>. This list features questions that gauge common traits such as a lack of empathy, pathological lying, and impulsivity (among many others). </p><p>Each question on this scale is then scored on a three-point scale: The item doesn't apply (0), the item applies to a certain extend (1), or the question fully applies (2). The bar for "clinical psychopathy" is 30 points on this test. </p><p>For reference, here are some of the scores of notable evaluations: </p><p>Ted Bundy - 39/40<br>Richard Ramirez - 31/40<br>Brian David Mitchell - 34/40</p><p><strong>Differentiating psychopathy and sociopathy </strong></p><p>The terms "psychopath" and "sociopath" are often used interchangeably but they aren't the same - and the <a href="https://psychcentral.com/blog/differences-between-a-psychopath-vs-sociopath/#:~:text=Psychopaths%20tend%20to%20be%20more,much%20of%20a%20normal%20life." target="_blank">difference is quite important</a>. A sociopath is someone with antisocial tendencies that are specific to social or environmental factors. A psychopath is someone whose traits are more innate.</p><p>A psychopath will be more manipulative but can be seen by others to lead a charming, "normal" life - whereas sociopaths tend to be more erratic, rage-prone, and are unable to keep up the facade of normality. </p>
Psychopathic tendencies versus psychopathy<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxMDkwNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjYzMTQ5OX0.IkfptXc5e1auSwTo_Bqpasjwbh4i1nLS8r8Xmm2EJEI/img.jpg?width=980" id="8b403" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0581a77d5f1e4b73e07c019aeda5971d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of trying on many faces hiding your true personality psychopath" />
A psychopath may be able to create a seemingly typical personality and life to fool others. Psychopathic tendencies don't always extend into psychopathy.
Photo by FGC on Shutterstock<p><strong>What causes psychopathy?</strong></p><p>Brain anatomy, genetics, and the person's environment may all contribute to the development of psychopathic traits. However, it's important to note that not all psychopathic traits and tendencies mean the person will grow into a psychopath.</p><p><strong>What are psychopathic tendencies? </strong></p><p>Psychopathic tendencies could be considered warning signs of psychopathy, but it's important to note that not everyone who shows psychopathic tendencies becomes a psychopath. Some, with the intervention of various therapies and strong, nurturing relationships, can assimilate to a relatively normal way of life. </p><p>The most well-known case of this would be the case of Beth Thomas. The subject of a 1990 documentary entitled "Child of Rage," Beth began to show psychopathic tendencies extremely early in life after suffering physical neglect and sexual abuse at the hands of her birth father before the age of one. </p><p>Later moved into an adoptive family where she could get the help she needs, the documentary (<a href="https://www.bitchute.com/video/pr3tmwyZAn0f/" target="_blank">which you can view here</a>, be warned, this footage may be disturbing to some) showed the disturbing thought process of a young 6-year-old girl struggling with an attachment disorder that led to psychopathic tendencies. </p><p>However, Beth, with the help of her adoptive family and professionals, became a <a href="https://www.bitchute.com/video/pr3tmwyZAn0f/" target="_blank">relatively typical young woman</a> who works as a nurse and has co-authored a book called "More Than a Thread of Hope" with her adoptive mother.</p><p><strong>Psychopaths' brains show differences in structure and function</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.med.wisc.edu/news-and-events/2011/november/psychopaths-brains-differences-structure-function/" target="_blank">According to a 2017 study</a> led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, psychopaths have reduced connections in their brains between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the amygdala. </p><p>This is noteworthy because of the functions of both parts in play - the vmPFC is responsible for sentimentality, empathy and guilt and the amygdala mediates fear and anxiety. </p><p>Not only did the research here show there were differences in how these parts of the psychopathic brain functioned, but this was the first study of it's kind to show physical (structural) differences in the brains of psychopaths. </p><p><strong>How common is psychopathy? </strong></p><p>While there may never be a specific answer to this, there have been several studies that can give us insight into how common psychopathy is. <a href="https://www.livescience.com/16585-psychopaths-speech-language.html#:~:text=Psychopaths%20make%20up%20about%201,profoundly%20selfish%20and%20lack%20emotion." target="_blank">According to most research</a>, psychopaths make up about 1 percent of the general population. <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201602/5-traits-actual-psychopaths#:~:text=While%20about%20one%20percent%20of,the%20criteria%20for%20being%20psychopaths.)" target="_blank">Additional research</a> claims up to 15 percent of the U.S prison population may meet the criteria for being psychopaths. </p>
Three scientists examine three dimensions of psychopathy: neurological, social, and criminal.
- How are the brains of psychopaths wired differently? In this video, psychologist Kevin Dutton, neuroscientist (and psychopath himself) James Fallon, and professor of psychiatry Michael Stone take the wiring apart.
- In neurotypical people, the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex inhibit one another to allow for reasonable, moral decision-making. Psychopaths don't have that mechanism.
- Up to 80% of who a psychopath will turn out to be is down to environment. Intelligence, natural aggressiveness, and your family and friends determine whether a psychopath will grow up to make a killing or just "make a killing in the market," as a famous headline once said.
A good apology can do great things. A bad one can cause trouble. Know the difference.
- No one likes to admit they were wrong, but we still have social norms that suggest we all do it from time to time.
- A well done apology can show respect, build trust, save relationships, and maintain your self-esteem.
- Saying "I'm sorry you feel that way" does not count.
Saying you’re sorry, it’s not just for Canadians anymore!<p>According to psychotherapist and author <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-compassion-chronicles/202006/why-we-need-apologize" target="_blank">Dr. Beverly Engel</a>, an apology does more than just express politeness; it is "an important social ritual, a way of showing respect and empathy for the wronged person or persons."</p><p> When you've harmed someone, a genuine, well-given apology demonstrates that you care about them, validates their emotions, allows you to take responsibility for your actions, rebuilds trust, and prevents the further deterioration of relationships. It can also help you avoid the shame and guilt of wronging someone from eating away at your self-esteem.<br> <br> As Dr. Engel explains, "Apologizing to another person is one of the healthiest, most positive actions we can ever take—for ourselves, the other person, and the relationship.<strong></strong></p><p>Plenty of experts agree with her. Wellness coach <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/elizabeth-scott-m-s-3144382" target="_blank">Elizabeth Scott</a> argues that apologies let other people know that you understand what you did was wrong and helps everyone <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/the-importance-of-apologizing-3144986#:~:text=Apologies%20re%2Destablish%20dignity%20for,comfortable%20with%20each%20other%20again." target="_blank">move forward after a conflict</a>. Dr. Denise Cummins highlights the <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/good-thinking/201304/are-you-big-enough-apologize" target="_blank">affirmation of humanity</a> present in apologies and points to data showing that the negative consequences of apologizing are often <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100602121158.htm" target="_blank">overstated</a>.</p><p>Professor <a href="http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/ps/faculty/node/25611" target="_blank">Allison Stanger </a>of Middlebury College agrees and reminds us in her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FgWw4KHpiA" target="_blank">Big Think interview</a> that a good apology creates suitable environments for learning and that needing to apologize for something doesn't make you a bad person:<br> </p><p><em>"Human beings have blind spots. They have implicit biases. This doesn't mean you're a bad person. We all have them. And I think it's an illusion to think we can eradicate them from human beings. And this relates to civil discourse because it's important that people be allowed to think out loud and make mistakes because, particularly in diverse work environments, diverse college classrooms, people are going to come from different backgrounds, and they will say things that may offend someone. And there, I think it's extraordinarily important that we tell our students, that this may happen, but it's immensely important that if you offend someone inadvertently that you apologize and say 'That was not my intention.' And then hopefully we can move on. </em></p><p><em>In my classroom, I do this, I say, I want you to speak freely. I don't want you to censor yourself. But if anybody feels offended, they should speak up because that's not a good classroom environment, and we apologize, and we move on. And I think this is a really simple truth that apologizing and moving on is a real foundation for moving forward."</em></p>
How should I apologize? Is saying “I’m sorry you feel that way,” enough?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="CPuEDXrz" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="30b01d19ea5107b651781281920e978d"> <div id="botr_CPuEDXrz_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/CPuEDXrz-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/CPuEDXrz-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/CPuEDXrz-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>A proper apology should express your understanding that you've done something wrong. Telling someone "I'm sorry you feel that way" if they do indeed have a legitimate grievance is not merely an inadequate apology, but it is also patronizing. Furthermore, it is <a href="https://freakonomics.com/podcast/apologies/" target="_blank">an ineffective way to apologize</a>. You should also beware of over apologizing; it can have <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/16/saying-im-sorry-can-make-people-think-poorly-of-you-research-heres-what-successful-people-do-instead.html" target="_blank">negative effects too</a>. Try only to make an apology when the situation calls for one.</p><p> <br> As Rutgers professor <a href="https://sociology.rutgers.edu/people/faculty/menu-ii/147-cerulo-karen-a" target="_blank">Karen A. Cerulo</a> explained in an interview with <a href="https://freakonomics.com/podcast/apologies/" target="_blank">Freakonomics</a>, an effective apology has several elements:</p><p>"Number one: don't wait. Forget your ego, forget the advice of your handlers. Unless you're involved in a legal situation, where you're advised not to speak, you should make an apology right away. Second, don't apologize for what people thought. In other words, we've often heard people say, 'I'm sorry that people misunderstood me; I'm sorry that people misinterpreted or misread my actions.' Apologize for what you did — not for what other people might have thought about it."<br><br>The third and fourth elements, according to Cerulo, are to not provide context as a way of explaining away your behavior, and to identify victims up front so that you can express remorse and make restitution when possible. <em></em></p><p><a href="https://www.vassar.edu/faculty/beho/" target="_blank">Dr. Ben Ho,</a> an associate professor of economics at Vasser College, adds that people often want to see an apology that costs something. This cost doesn't have to be financial, though it can be, but can come in the form of admitting your incompetence in making the previous error or promising to do better in the future.</p><p>The results of a weak apology on the people you're apologizing to are easy to imagine. Try to recall how you felt the last time you saw somebody apologizing for getting caught rather than for what they did. It neither satisfies the offended party nor paves the way for personal growth on the part of the person who did something wrong. On an individual level, we all know the feeling of getting an insincere apology from somebody who promptly went back to the behaviors that they just "apologized" for; it reduces your respect for them and makes you feel rotten. <em></em></p><p>On the other hand, a sufficient apology can achieve great things. It can heal the harmed, change how we view somebody who did us wrong, create opportunities for forgiveness and growth, save relationships, and help us do better in the <a href="https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/forgiveness_the_impacts_of_an_apology#:~:text=By%20apologizing%20and%20taking%20responsibility,deep%20sense%20of%20self%2Drespect." target="_blank">future</a>. <br> <br> While the most effective apologies often incur a cost to our status or require us to be better in the future, these can often be minor compared to the benefits of a proper apology. </p><p>So, go ahead, apologize a little more often for the things worth apologizing for- but be sure you mean it. </p>
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.