Narcissism: Awareness of Others and Self Examination

Sunday, July 17, 2022 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

(Originally posted August 23, 2013. Updated July 17, 2022)

Philippians 2:1-30, So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. He was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of a woman named Echo. These advances eventually led Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus "lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour," and finally changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus.  (Narcissism: A New Theory by Neville Symington

The concept of excessive selfishness has been recognized throughout history. In ancient Greece the concept was understood as hubris. It is only in recent times that it has been defined in psychological terms.

Narcissism: Behind the Mask, a book by David Thomas suggests that narcissists typically display most, and sometimes all, of the following traits: 

• An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
• Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
• Difficulty with empathy
• Problems distinguishing the self from others
• Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults
• Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
• Haughty body language
• Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them
• Detesting those who do not admire them
• Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
• Pretending to be more important than they really are
• Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
• Claiming to be an "expert" at many things
• Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
• Denial of remorse and gratitude 

Hotchkiss' seven deadly sins of narcissism
Sandy Hotchkiss identified what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:

Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.

Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.

Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.

Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.

Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an "awkward" or "difficult" person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.

Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.

Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.