Narcissism: when is it healthy and when is it a disorder?

A certain degree of narcissism is necessary throughout our life and is essential for our self-esteem as we need to feel precious, worthy. All people have some degree of narcissism and this is one of the keys to achieve goals, increase our self-esteem, feel self-love.

On the other hand, the concept of narcissism associated with selfish and conceited behavior arose from the classic Greek story of Narcissus. A man who has fallen in love with himself and could not look away from his reflection on the surface of a lake, and unable to continue to see himself in the picture in the water ends up jumping into the water , immersed in its own “I”. He ends in a tragic way and his image becomes a prison, unable to separate from it.

From this story, the use of narcissism is described as a potentially problematic aspect. When he goes crazy, we would call it a narcissistic personality disorder.

    Pathological narcissism should not be confused with healthy narcissism

    Healthy narcissism is necessary and serves to stand out in different areas (work, family, social) … This is what most people have. Healthy narcissism is about loving and caring for yourself while pathological narcissism consists in curing the fantasy of curing the image of a false “I”.

    His narcissism

    The person who owns it manages to be warm to be empathetic with loved ones, respects everyone’s individual space, is fair and sensitive to their talents and abilities and he enjoys listening to what others have to say to him, including ideas he does not share or which are contrary to his beliefs.

    Outraged, anyone with healthy narcissism can express their opinions respectfully and in a friendly manner, and although he can argue, he is understanding of other points of view. On the other hand, it is good to connect with the couple.

    Pathological narcissism

    People with pathological narcissism are jealous and generally unhappy. They feel constant dissatisfaction and prioritize their need for love, validation and attention to the well-being of the family or business..

    They are generally charming in public, but hostile to their friends or family (they have a double face) and badmouth people on their backs.

    Moreover, they often damage their business or their reputation, but neither are they responsible for it, nor will they admit that they were wrong.

    too much it is characteristic that they feel superior but alone, and that they have a particular fear of loneliness, while feeling trapped in a bubble. The way we experience our sexuality is impersonal, unsatisfying.

    They are competitive people obsessed with being the center of attention, and they exert violence directed at themselves. On the other hand, they insist on pointing out the differences with others.

      Lack of empathy, the missing link

      Because the pathological narcissist is the center of his attention, he is not able to put himself in the other’s shoes; he will not recognize the feelings or needs of others because he is very focused on his own experiences.

      Narcissists have very damaged egos, they are constantly afraid that their bubble of self-centeredness that they have built will deflate. For that, they tend to live on the defensive, they are hypersensitive to criticism. They don’t allow anyone to give them advice, let alone a sermon, it causes them anger, shame and frustration.

      According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), personality disorders cannot be diagnosed in childhood, but in adulthood, although problems start to appear as early as age 15. years.

      However, in childhood, children exhibit very narcissistic characteristics: absence of limits, excess of lies or manifest desire and overwhelming competitiveness. What is currently being shown is that although the characteristics of the disorder may not be clear until the age of 18, if a child does not develop an empathic sense from an early age then it will be impossible for him to develop them. After 12 or 13 years, the brain has finished developing its basic functions.

      There is evidence that psychopathy is inherited and originated there. A narcissist is made and a psychopath is born. The human mind is much more fragile than you might think, it’s amazing how much irreversible damage has occurred in childhood.

      The emotional management system

      Emotions are generated in a group of brain structures called the limbic system, comprising the hypothalamus, the hippocampus and the amygdala. When these parts are not exercised in childhood by affection, love, or interactions that teach the individual to take responsibility for their actions, they are forever atrophied. Although they also cause serious disconnections within this system. Additionally, narcissists are known to have a thinner cerebral cortex.

      Dr Calixto, PhD in Neuroscience at the National University of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), explains that between ages 8 and 12, empathy mirror neurons are generated in the rotation of the cingulate. People abandoned at these ages are 30% more likely to develop depression, which in turn leads to the development of narcissism.

      Like that, emotional abuse or inattention can affect a child’s social development. When children develop narcissism through violence, they live in terror; they usually have a cruel narcissistic father or mother, so terror becomes commonplace and they prefer not to feel it as they have to continue to see the protector as terrorizing and threatening, and therefore empathetic brain bonds do not develop well. They suffer from a feeling of abandonment that accompanies them forever, some think they deserve nothing, others that they cannot trust anyone.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Burgo, J. (2016). Narcissism. CDMX: Paidos Mexico.

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