Narcissists as self-assured liars and seductive manipulators.
However, there are some positive and healthy qualities of a narcissist that you may not be aware of. Still, when you’re interacting with one, keep in mind that there is a delicate line between narcissism and self-love.
The term “narcissism” derives from the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology, who fell in love with his reflection and wasted away gazing at it.
That’s how we see a modern narcissist — a self-absorbed person, with a cold heart and vain pride. While too much of it is bad for us, a certain amount of narcissism is healthy and can be one of the best qualities to have. We explore it soon.
Indeed, there is a thing as a good narcissist, and they can also be persons with some positive and admirable qualities.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism is a mental health issue that has been studied extensively in psychology, psychiatry, social work, and even business administration. We all know Steve Jobs was a narcissist.
The word “narcissist” typically describes someone who is egoistic, sarcastic, and insensitive. Narcissism can be defined as:
A “relatively stable individual difference consisting of grandiosity, self-love and inflated self-views.”— Campbell, Hoffman, Campbell, & Marchisio, 2011.
Narcissism has been referred to as the “God complex.” Narcissists believe they are God and the people around them should treat them as such. They often have a sense of shame and anger about feeling inferior or no better than others. For a narcissist, being a narcissist means they must maintain a constant stream of self-promotion.
Narcissism has two main types: grandiose and vulnerable (Miller et al., 2011). Grandiose narcissists usually have an exaggerated sense of importance, an obsession with status and power, and a dominating and aggressive nature. Vulnerable (or covert) narcissists feel insecure and inadequate, therefore they are more likely to be defensive and see most others as hostile.
Narcissistic behavior typically begins by early adulthood and is frequently associated with significant distress in their life.
But how can you find out if the person you’re dealing with is a narcissist? Read on.
How To Spot A Narcissist?
The four defining behavior patterns of a narcissist are:
- a feeling of superiority over others,
- an excessive need for attention and admiration,
- a tendency to feel entitled, and
- a willingness to exploit others.
Narcissists engage in risky behavior, are overconfident, show little empathic concern for others, believe they are more intelligent and attractive, and have little shame or guilt.
They love to monopolize conversations and become impatient when others talk about themselves.
They have a heightened sense of entitlement, which means they think they deserve more than others because they are better than anybody else.
According to research, there is a positive correlation between narcissism and cyberbullying (Goodboy & Martin, 2015) and cyber-victimization (Zerach, 2016).
Narcissistic people use other people as mere tools to achieve their goals, and so their relationships are superficial and exploitative.
Narcissists can be driven to explosive anger as a reaction to anything that poses a threat to their self-esteem, goals, views, or image. This type of reactive rage can lead to unplanned murder.
Positive Narcissism: Good Qualities of A Narcissist
While it can be hard to see past the selfishness in narcissists, there are traits in them that are positive.
Positive narcissism describes a person who has a healthy sense of self-esteem but tends to have a pattern of behavior that could be mildly narcissistic.
A healthy narcissist is someone who doesn’t take things too personally and has naturally high self-esteem. They also have confidence in their own abilities and can take risks to do what they want to do.
This behavior pattern is often thought to be a source of self-delusion of superiority, but it may actually be an example of the healthy self-confidence that all humans better have.
Most researchers accept that narcissism can express itself in both pathological and typical forms: pathological and normal.
- “Pathological” narcissism is typified by a fragile self-image that quickly falls apart in the face of criticism from other people.
- “Normal” narcissism is marked by a healthy self and self-esteem that does not crumble when faced with challenges or flak from others.
Narcissistic people score high on extraversion (also spelled as extroversion). They are outgoing, sociable, and talkative. Their conversations are magnetic and energetic.
They often have a strong presence and are, therefore, able to influence others on the go. Their first impressions and opening lines are charismatic.
All of this helps them quickly rise as a likable leader among a group of unfamiliar people.
Grandiose narcissists are mentally tougher and less likely to experience depressive symptoms. This makes them more resistant to adversities and allows them to bounce back to normalcy sooner than others. Moreover, their extroverted personality makes it difficult for others to notice their pain.
They are confident of their decisions and opinions, and carry through their goals with a rare tenacity, often at the cost of displeasing and exploiting others. However, this is the attitude typically demanded of a person in a leadership role to navigate through rough waters.
When their high-risk decisions result in profitable outcomes, others accept them as crisis solvers.
They are constantly ready to take on new challenges, especially ones that would help them attain more popularity and a higher position.
One downside of this facet of their personality is that they readily accept challenges thrown by others, without much deliberation. They respond to criticism so fast that it appears as though they were waiting for others to throw them challenges.
Narcissists are creative people. According to Robert Raskin’s research, there is a small but significant relationship between the personality traits of creativity and narcissism.
They are naturally self-loving and self-compassionate people. For them, self-care takes precedence over duties and responsibilities heaped on them by others. As a result, they are less likely to develop burnout.
Some people with narcissistic traits can be compassionate and empathetic. Positive narcissists are mostly kind, friendly, and caring, and they may be the nicest people you’ve ever met.
It could be their yearning to be appreciated that drives them to behave with kindness in the hope of being reciprocated. Since it feels good to be treated kindly, we usually respond to such narcissists with gratitude for their kindness and appreciation of their good nature.
Did you know we can measure how much of a narcissist a person is?
The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), developed in 1979 by Robert Raskin and Calvin Hall, is the most widely used scale to measure the trait.
Now comes the interesting part. You can use the Single-Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) to find out if a person is a narcissist by asking them just one question:
“Are you a narcissist?”
People who answered “Yes” to that single query were significantly more likely than others to score high on narcissism on the 40-item Narcissistic Personality Inventory.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
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