Do you think your partner or parent could be a narcissist. Find out for sure with a narcissism test.
Is there someone you know who is extremely boastful, self-absorbed, and is found frequently taking selfies or engaging in self-admiration? If so, do you really care? This seems to be the common understanding of narcissism that many people discuss. But, it’s not defining the real problem with narcissism. Yes, it is one trait listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to define narcissism, but in the bigger picture of relationship damage, arrogant self-admiration, although annoying, does not usually hurt others.
I am more concerned about what I call the “cornerstone” of understanding the debilitating effects of narcissism in relationships. The primary harmful features of this disorder have to do with lack of empathy, the inability to tune into the emotional welfare of others, and exploiting others for one’s own gain. This is what causes damage in love relationships, friendships and parenting children.
Let’s take an example of someone who is in the news every day and happens to be running for president of the United States. This person, Donald Trump, is well known by the public, is seen and heard by millions, as he talks about his polls and how much people love him. On the surface, because some would say he is being boastful, he has also been called narcissistic. But, does anyone really know this? What if we find that behind closed doors and out of the public eye, Mr. Trump is empathic, nurturing, and loving to his wife and children? What if he can tune into the emotional world of his loved ones? What if he asks them how they are feeling and genuinely cares? Then, by definition, he is certainly not a narcissist. Please note, I am making no diagnosis nor am I making a political statement here, but merely using the example of Mr. Trump to make my point. Only his immediate friends and close loved ones would have the answer to these questions. But, if you listen to the news, how many times have you heard him labeled narcissistic?
Let’s take another cultural example and discuss our young people today. Yes, they love selfies and all that the electronic world brings them. There’s even a selfie stick now to make it easier for young people to take pics of themselves, including preschool children. Now if these same kids, are being taught to care about others, to practice empathy, to listen to and respect other’s feelings, who really cares about the selfies? I care how they treat other people. I care about their moral compass and if they are being taught to be accountable, honest and good people. They might even show some signs of entitlement like “I need to go to the mall right now!” “My party with my friends is the most important thing in the world to me right now.” Ok, that’s a part of growing up and a normal part of the process of development in children and teens. It’s a needed bit of egocentric behavior that allows them to grow into their authentic selves. We should expect this. When a parent is aware and treats a child with respect, the child eventually grows out of it. Concerned parents frequently ask me if I think their child is narcissistic. I usually find myself reassuring them that the behavior is normal for their developmental stage.
What is really harmful then? A person who cannot provide empathy or express love causes severe damage in parenting and relationships. If a parent is of the belief that a “roof over your head, food to eat, and clothes to wear,” is adequate parenting, it is not. You can find that in an orphanage. Good parenting and healthy love relationships are built on steady, intimate, emotional connections. This means a “tuning in” to the emotional welfare of loved ones and friends.
So, when we talk about narcissism, let’s look more deeply at what causes damage. Our world will continue to grow and expand in the field of electronics and social media. I don’t think we will stop this easily nor do I believe it causes narcissism. In fact, most of us enjoy the instant gratification when seeking information and will want the latest gadgets to keep up with our fast-paced culture. We’ve all taken a selfie or two, ya? Seriously, who cares? There will also be people who are more boastful than others and those that admire themselves a bit much. If they aren’t hurting anyone else, who cares about that too?
Let’s instead spend our energy on loving connections, learning the art of empathy, and becoming the best we can be as human beings in this journey we are all traveling together. If you wonder whether or not you are in a relationship with a narcissist, and are confused with the definition because it is thrown around rather loosely, please take a moment and take the following surveys:
Am I in a love relationship with a narcissist?http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/narcissist-relationship-survey/(link is external)
Additional Resources by the Author:
Website: www.willieverbegoodenough.com(link is external)(link is external)
Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop(link is external).(link is external) Work recovery in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments.
Therapist Training for Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers(link is external).(link is external) Share the 5-Step recovery model with your clients.
Small group therapy intensives(link is external).(link is external)
Daughter & Son weekend intensives(link is external).(link is external) One on one sessions with Dr. Karyl McBride.