Do you have among your friends a person who always decides where to go, who does not usually listen to others, who always talks about herself with pride, and who, despite everything, is charming?
Below, we distinguish the different types of narcissism and offer tips for discovering the narcissist in your group of friends.
Although narcissism is a very common personality trait that we can all manifest, in some cases that facet dominates all the others, transforming the person into an extreme narcissist, a ‘full-time’ narcissist.
What is narcissism?
Detail from Echo and Narcissus by James William Waterhouse.
Nemesis, the goddess of retributive justice, revenge, and balance, punishes Narcissus for his egotism causing him to fall in love with his own image reflected in the water of a pond. Absorbed by his own beauty, Narcissus ends up at the bottom of the pond pursuing an impossible: to find someone as perfect as himself.
Although there are various developments in the history of the classical myth of Narcissus, the result is always the same: Narcissus is punished for his deification. And only gods can behave as such.
The figure of this character, like other classical myths, was used by Sigmund Freud in his 1914 essay Introduction to Narcissism to illustrate a personality disorder that later continued to be developed by psychology.
Types of narcissism
Discover the narcissist in your group of friends.
The Mayo Clinic defines the narcissist as a person who exaggerates his own importance, has a pressing need for excessive attention and admiration, difficult relationships, and a lack of empathy for others, hiding under all this a fragile personality that can crack with any criticism.
Although narcissism can become a disorder if it dominates the rest of personality traits, Harvard psychiatry professor Andrew P. Morrison clarifies that narcissism is a “necessary step in the development of personality” and that ” A reasonable amount of ‘healthy’ narcissism allows balancing the individual’s perception of their own needs in relation to others ”.
Within these two extremes, there would be various types of narcissism characterized by a qualitative difference in the way it manifests itself. The narcissist can have many faces :
- Powerful narcissist. Armed in a situation of power over others, he executes his dominance like a despot, delighting in the control he exercises over his environment. In case of losing power, this narcissist can become alienated and become even more dangerous.
- Fantasy narcissist. Without enough capacity or enthusiasm to dominate his environment as the powerful narcissist, this type of narcissist is content to be a demigod in his imaginary world in which everyone pays homage to him. He is usually a shy or withdrawn person with difficulty relating.
- Vulnerable narcissist. That person who handles emotional blackmail and victimhood like nobody else and who, protected by his alleged hypersensitivity, can make life impossible for his environment due to his insatiable need for attention.
- Narcissistic savior. That person who always has a solution to fix the problems of others, even the whole world, even if they rarely work. He considers that his vision of the world is the only and true one. If everyone thought and acted like him, everything would be solved in a jiffy.
- Narcissistic martyr. Related to the previous one, this type of narcissist spends his life underlining the sacrifices he has made for others, emphasizing the benefits that others have found in him, in addition to emphasizing what he has lost due to those supposed sacrifices. Note that this individual does not understand the real meaning of sacrifice as an act of selflessness and protection by love for others.
- Unconscious narcissist. He acts like a narcissist, but, unlike most narcissists, is not aware of his behavior.
Tips to discover the narcissist hiding in your group of friends
If you have read the different dominant traits that a narcissist can have, you will be closer to unmasking the narcissist from your group of friends. Here are some extra tips to further refine your aim:
Extreme competitiveness has become a characteristic of our society, being even encouraged by its benefits without considering its risks. The narcissist takes advantage of this tendency to bring out his competitive character, feeling fully proud of his competitiveness. His eagerness to demonstrate his supposed superiority can lead him to turn any situation into a competition.
One of the most subtle but dangerous traits of the narcissist is his tendency to manipulate, which he often exercises with the most refined techniques. Gaslighting stands out among them, a pattern of behavior that is based on manipulating people so that they doubt themselves. The term comes from the remarkable classic Gaslight in which a man manipulates his wife emotionally to make her believe that she is crazy and keep her money.
In a more routine environment, the person who executes this technique uses different resources to underestimate the emotions and talent of the people around them, questioning their ideas, actions, and decisions, making these people believe that the problem is in themselves, although be false.
Lack of empathy
In line with the above, the lack of empathy, the inability to put oneself in the shoes of others and understand their emotions and their actions, is the most defining trait of the narcissist. If one of your friends always belittles or even ridicules your emotions and is unable to take your problems seriously, you are dealing with a narcissist, to say the least.
Requires special treatment
“They don’t know who they are talking to.” The narcissist thinks he is special and therefore needs special treatment, whether at work or the corner bar. He aspires to be revered by everyone and, as that is seldom possible, he lives in frustration criticizing everything that moves.
The biggest problem comes when that person, usually powerful, lives in an environment full of flatterers and eulogists: we all know a specimen. So the narcissist is with a foot and a half at the bottom of the pond.
Does not let speak, does not listen
If you have to summarize an argument in two simple sentences, preferably avoiding subordinate ones so that you do not lose the thread, it is that perhaps your interlocutor is a narcissist. If by the third sentence his gaze is already blank or he’s staring at his biceps or his shiny new sneakers, there’s no question, your friend is a narcissist. If he never lets you finish an argument and constantly changes the subject so that the protagonist of it is always him, you know who you are (trying) to talk to.
What if the narcissist is you?
Discover the narcissist in your group of friends.
If when reading this text you have felt that you are represented by any of the facets of narcissism you should not panic. We all think we are a little special, even if we are not. It is a way of managing life and strengthening our self-esteem to face any challenge that we have set ourselves.
But if narcissistic traits tend to dominate your behavior, beware: the extreme narcissist has acquaintances, colleagues, partners, cronies, sycophants … but no friends. Real friends can’t stand a narcissist for long, however charming he may be.