Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Field Guide To Narcissism

Hmm...sounds like many politicians.

Psychology Today: A Field Guide To Narcissism
There's the groom who wouldn't let his fiancée's overweight friend be a bridesmaid because he didn't want her near him in the wedding pictures. The entrepreneur who launched a meeting for new employees by explaining that nobody ever gets anywhere working for someone else. The woman who had such confidence in her great taste, she routinely redecorated her daughter's home without asking. The guy who found himself so handsome, he took a self-portrait with a Polaroid every night before bed to preserve the moment.

As Ted Turner put it: "If I only had a little humility, I'd be perfect."

But narcissism isn't just a combination of monumental self-esteem and rudeness. As a personality type, it ranges from a tendency to a serious clinical disorder, encompassing unexpected, even counterintuitive behavior. The Greek myth of Narcissus ends with the beautiful young man lost to the world, content to forever gaze at his own reflection in a pool of water. Real-life narcissists, however, desperately need other people to validate their own worth. "It's not so much being liked. It's much more important to be admired. Studies have shown narcissists are willing to sacrifice being liked if they think it's necessary to be admired," says Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Deep desire to be at the center of things is served by extreme self-confidence, a combination that makes narcissists attractive and even charming. Buoyed by a coterie of admiring friends and associates—protected by the armor of positive self-regard—someone with a mild-to-moderate case of narcissism can float through life feeling pretty good about himself. Since they feel entitled to special treatment, they are easily offended, and readily harbor grudges. Yet narcissists are often very popular—at least in the short term.

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