10 Surprising Truths About Narcissism

— Reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Narcissists are people who love themselves too much, we know.

We also know that they are defined by a series of traits — desire for admiration, fantasies of superiority, hypersensitivity to criticism, exploitation of people, and lack of empathy for others.

Experts say narcissists widely have the core features of high agency and low communion.

  • Agency means self-focused traits, like independence, assertiveness, and a focus on personal achievements and goals. High agency means a tendency to be very self-centered and driven by their own goals.
  • Communion refers to other-focused traits, like empathy, cooperation, and a focus on relationships and the welfare of others. Low communion means a lack of empathy and concern for others.

So, at one extreme, narcissists feel grandiose, superior, and powerful.

At the other extreme, they also feel fully entitled, to the extent that they have appropriated the mindset that “others exist for me.”

10 Surprising Truths About Narcissism

Let’s dive in straight to these surprising facts on narcissists and narcissism:

1. To some extent, we all have narcissistic tendencies.

Most of us have a few narcissistic traits.

Narcissistic traits exist on a continuum. It’s normal to have some level of healthy self-love and confidence. But when these traits become excessive and pathological, they can lead to serious issues like NPD or NPT.

  • People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have these narcissistic traits to an extreme degree.
  • People with a “milder” form, the Narcissistic Personality Type (NPT), have many features of NPD but stay within a normal personality range.
10 Surprising Truths About Narcissism

2. Narcissists are great at faking charm and charisma.

These people are excellent at using charm and flattery to gain your admiration and trust.

Inside, they could be ordinary and unexceptional, but they are well-skilled at presenting an idealized version of themselves.

Narcissists can be very persuasive and likable, good talkers, helpful, knowledgeable, humble, and attentive—but only until you challenge their ego or refuse to meet their demands.

This “mask of people-friendliness” can disguise their beneath-the-surface lack of empathy and exploitative tendencies.

And that gives them the upper hand — they can easily manipulate and take advantage of others without getting called out for a long time.

3. Narcissists have a difficult time accepting feedback and handling criticism.

They often see feedback as a personal attack and become defensive, angry, or silent.

It is their inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement that makes them hypersensitive to any perceived slight or criticism. Note the word ‘perceived‘ — even when others see a certain feedback as constructive, they can see it as insulting.

Feedback threatens their fragile ego and sullies their “pristine” self-image, triggering intense feelings of shame and rage.

They just cannot accept responsibility for their flaws or mistakes. Their default behavior is finding someone to lay the blame upon, or making external factors an excuse.

This blame-shifting is a part of narcissistic projection (projecting their own flaws onto others).

4. Not all narcissism is toxic.

A modest, healthy amount of narcissism can let people feel positive pride and honest joy in their achievements and lives.

However, pathological narcissism, as seen in NPD, is characterized by an excessive and unrealistic need for admiration, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy for others.

Those diagnosed with NPD are often associated with harmful behaviors like domestic violence and picking up fights.

This toxic form of narcissism can be highly damaging to relationships and personal well-being.

5. Narcissists are often very successful in their careers.

They are often driven and ambitious, and they can use their charm and charisma to get ahead.

Narcissists are often drawn to high-profile, prestigious careers that offer opportunities for attention, power, and admiration.

Their confidence, self-promotion, and willingness to take risks can contribute to professional success, at least in the short term.

However, their interpersonal challenges and lack of empathy can ultimately undermine their long-term success and relationships.

Truths About Narcissism -Pin

6. Narcissists are great at reading people’s minds.

They can quickly read people’s weaknesses and use them to their advantage.

Narcissists are highly attuned to the needs and vulnerabilities of others, not out of genuine empathy, but as a means of exploiting them for their own gain.

They are skilled at identifying and playing on people’s insecurities, desires, and emotional triggers to manipulate them into providing the narcissistic supply they crave.

7. Narcissists are often creative and innovative.

Narcissists’ desire for admiration and uniqueness can fuel eye-catching creativity and innovation.

They are intensely driven by a need for recognition and attention. This makes them strive to produce work that will garner praise and set them apart from others.

Many of them can put in unhealthy amounts of time, effort, and resources to achieve great things they will be praised for.

However, their creations are rarely other-focused, unless they get some gain from it. They are all for self-focus and self-promotion, not for genuine artistic expression or societal contribution.

To succeed, they can even justify corrupt practices and exploitation of others. They can trample on other people’s dreams to show that they are strong and determined.

8. Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, and not everyone with narcissistic traits has NPD.

We have to accept that not all narcissists are made equal.

Some narcissists may have only a few toxic traits, while others may have many.

Some of them—malignant narcissists—are a mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism. They are so naturally cruel and harmful to society that their proper place is in jail.

Narcissistic traits can range from relatively mild and non-pathological to severe and clinically diagnosable narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Moreover, there are subtypes of narcissism, including grandiose (overt) and vulnerable (covert) types:

9. Narcissism can come from their parents.

Research has shown that narcissism in general is heritable.

A 2014 study published in 2014 found two traits of NPD — grandiosity (23%) and entitlement (35%) — were moderately heritable.

  • By the way, grandiosity refers to “a grandiose sense of self-importance.”
  • While entitlement refers to “an entitled, socially objectifying sense of the self in relation to others.” The mindset they have is that “others exist for me.”

While parenting styles and childhood experiences play a role, there may be a biological nature or genetic component to developing narcissism.

10. Narcissists often have a history of troubled relationships.

They may be unfaithful or abusive partners, and they may have difficulty maintaining long-term relationships.

Narcissists’ lack of empathy, sense of entitlement, and need for constant admiration make it extremely challenging for them to form and sustain healthy, balanced relationships.

They often engage in behaviors like emotional manipulation, infidelity, and even emotional or physical abuse, as a means of maintaining control and feeding their insatiable need for narcissistic supply.

Final Words

We are living in a narcissistic age. All around us, people seem to attach too much importance and excellence to themselves, while caring less and less for others’ inconvenience or feelings.

But we must not use the label “narcissist” at whoever seems self-centered.

√ Also Read: Do Narcissists Apologize (And When: Intentions Revealed)

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

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