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Narcissist Meaning: Explained in a Simple Manner

Narcisista Significato

In this article we will address the meaning of the word narcissist. You have probably heard the word narcissism several times before. Perhaps it has been used in a joke or in a casual discussion between friends. But do you really know the meaning of this word? Do you know how it relates to someone’s personality and psychology? Let’s find out in this article.

What is the meaning of narcissist?

Narcissism is a term used to describe someone who has an excessive interest in or admiration for themselves. It is usually associated with vanity and self-obsession. The term is derived from the myth of the Greek character Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.

Many say that the meaning of narcissist is about vanity or selfishness. However, there are several other signs or symptoms associated with the disorder.

The definition of narcissism is actually much more complex. Narcissism involves an intense preoccupation with oneself and one’s physical appearance. In addition, narcissists are excessively preoccupied with their own power and prestige which makes them feel superior to the outside world, as well as having an intense need for admiration and affirmation from others.

Some other narcissistic traits include:

  • lack of empathy or consideration for others;
  • setting unrealistic goals;
  • exploiting others to achieve one’s own goals;
  • behaving like a victim;
  • controlling others by keeping them dependent;
  • having an all-consuming sense of entitlement (or grandiosity); feeling envious of others;
  • behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner;
  • having unreasonable expectations of favourable treatment;
  • behaving as if the rules do not apply to them;
  • lacking remorse for past mistakes or bad behaviour;
  • blaming others for their problems;
  • holding grudges;
  • insisting on having the best of everything (or always getting what they want).

The cause is often deeply rooted in childhood: caring and attentive parents can instil healthy self-esteem and confidence early on, while negligent or abusive parents can foster feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

His social interactions are often impaired because of his egocentricity, excessive need for admiration, sense of entitlement and inability to empathise with others and recognise their needs and feelings. It is as if the narcissist has a set of blinders that prevent him from seeing outside himself and understanding what is going on in the real world.

Different types of narcissism

Narcissist Meaning Different types of narcissism

In order to understand the meaning of narcissism, we must first analyse how many and what are the various forms of the disorder. Here are the main ones:

Covert narcissism

A very common form of narcissism is Covert narcissism, based on feelings of inadequacy. Here the narcissist feels insecure, is hypersensitive to criticism and seeks validation from others.

People with this form of the disorder see their lives as a struggle for dominance. They define themselves by their opposition to others, feel good when they defeat their opponents and bad when they do not. They have difficulty tolerating setbacks or defeats and do not give up easily.

The defining characteristic of Covert narcissism is vulnerability to criticism and rejection: anything that threatens his or her self-esteem triggers his or her defences. Criticism is not just something he or she does not like, it is something he or she fears. The need for love and approval is therefore greater than it would otherwise be, because to be attacked is to be dirty, devalued, unworthy of love and approval.

The cause of Covert Narcissism stems from early childhood experiences involving abuse or neglect. Because of this, Covert Narcissism develops when a child fails to develop a healthy sense of self and believes they are worthless. As such, they tend to seek attention from others to support their fragile sense of self-worth, but once they get what they feel they deserve, the individual usually reverts to their previous state.

Narcissism Overt

Overt narcissism is the most common type. This person feels exceptional, unique and superior. She believes she is entitled to special treatment and to be indulged. Her sense of entitlement can be so extreme that she believes she deserves to dominate everyone around her, rather like a small child who believes she deserves to control everything because she does not yet appreciate that others have needs and desires of their own.

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The narcissistic Overt is often seen as haughty, snobbish or vain. However, his sense of superiority is rarely stable, is based on his ability to extract appreciation from others and tends to disappear when he fails to gain the admiration he expects.

However, this one feels so superior that she tends to devalue other people rather than feel compassion for them when they fail or disappoint her. Moreover, the Overt is often charming at first sight, intelligent, accomplished and creative. The more one gets to know him, however, the more it becomes apparent that he has poor interpersonal boundaries and little concern for the feelings of others.

Le persone con questo disturbo spesso mostrano arroganza, un senso di predominio e comportamenti di ricerca del potere. Possono monopolizzare le conversazioni, sminuire o guardare dall’alto in basso le persone che percepiscono come inferiori, e possono spesso esprimere disprezzo per le opinioni degli altri. Una persona con NPD può spesso dare l’impressione di essere egocentrica, presuntuosa, vanagloriosa, pretenziosa, manipolatrice, alla ricerca di attenzione, egoista e insensibile.

Overt narcissists, therefore, are exhibitionists in their behaviour and demand constant attention and admiration from both themselves and others. They are more likely than other people to interrupt others when they speak, show hostility when criticised or contradicted, insist on having “the best” of everything, including luxuries, always want to be the centre of attention in social situations, and behave as if the rules do not apply to them.

Malignant narcissism

Malignant narcissism is a syndrome characterised by a toxic mix of narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, aggression and sadism. It is not limited to people who meet the criteria for NPD; in fact, most narcissists do not qualify as malignant. It is also important to note that this syndrome is not limited to adults: it can occur in adolescents and even children.

Malignant narcissism is an extreme manifestation of the narcissistic personality and they are always obsessed with power, control, domination and revenge. They are usually extremely vindictive when frustrated, hurt or contradicted. The aggression expressed by malignant narcissists is coldly calculated to hurt the subject while sparing the narcissist from any responsibility for his or her actions. It is typically directed at people who are perceived as easy targets or potential sources of narcissistic supply. So much so that most victims of malignant narcissists are chosen because they provide some kind of advantage or supply to his ego.

Sufferers of this form of the disorder are constantly looking for ways to make everyone feel unhappy. They constantly blame others for their problems, convince themselves that they are superior to everyone else and constantly complain when they are wronged.

These people constantly drown in their negative feelings about themselves and often direct that aggression at others. They typically have a very fragile ego and do their best to ensure that others surround them with a constant reassurance of their greatness.

Narcissist Meaning: Getting to know the symptoms

Narcissist Meaning: Getting to know the symptoms

By delving into the meaning of the word narcissist, we can deduce that the disorder is also an undeniable problem in relationships. If there is a partner who hides behind this mask of selfishness, it cannot be ignored. Moreover, psychologists explain that in the early stages of relationships, self-absorption is easily overlooked in favour of seduction and pleasing personality traits.

Here are the most common features

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g. exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements).
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
  • Believes that he/she is ‘special’ and unique and can only be understood by other special or high-level people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement (i.e. unreasonable expectations of particularly favourable treatment or automatic conformity with his expectations).
  • Is an interpersonal exploiter: takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends.
  • Lacks empathy: unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  • Displays arrogant and haughty behaviour or attitudes.

Determining if someone you know is a narcissist

When you are around a narcissist, you feel flattered and seduced into thinking that this person is special, but while you are entranced, the narcissist is scrutinising everything about you to find out what you can do for him and what is in it for him. The smarter and more powerful they are, the more damage they can do.

A narcissistic manager, for example, can hire and fire people, ruin careers, create organisations full of fear and doubt. After working with a narcissistic manager, a subordinate will be discouraged from taking a decision or initiative again.

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Lacking empathy, these people are blind to the needs of others, are only interested in their own needs and are typically very charming at the beginning of their acquaintance. So it will not be so complex to fall into their net. This is a very powerful weapon because they use charm and flattery, not only to get what they want, but also to exert power and control over others.

Narcissist Meaning: His view of himself

It is common to meet someone who tells you that they are the greatest, the smartest, the most successful person in their field or in society. This could usually be a red flag that they are a narcissist.

The narcissist in fact uses these kinds of statements because he has a grandiose view of himself. He believes he is better than others, but not because he has achieved any objective standard of success (which, if he had, would have made him moderate his self-esteem) but simply because everything is the image he tries to recreate within himself for himself and others. Moreover, this belief makes him feel entitled to special treatment.

Unfortunately, however, it also makes him perceive his vulnerability and weakness, since such a view of himself can only make him aware of how far he is from his idealised self-image. Thus the narcissist oscillates between feeling superior and feeling inferior: one moment he is basking in self-admiration and the next moment, despondency and self-loathing take over while he soberly assesses his own shortcomings and defects.

Because of these fluctuating feelings, the narcissist reacts by lashing out at other people. Firstly, because they represent an objective standard against which he measures his value and secondly, because they make it impossible for him to ignore the gulf between his fantasy and reality.

Narcissist Meaning: How it affects your relationships

In a healthy relationship, one has to take into consideration the feelings of the other person. One of the basic principles of relationships is that you have to show interest and respect for the other person, but a narcissist does not. The latter does not really have relationships, but only goals to vent his inevitable disappointment and anger at the view he has of himself and the world. Thus, the only way they can feel good about themselves is to make someone else feel bad.

To do this they will create all sorts of rules and norms that the partner will have to follow in order to like them, but of course no one knows the rules of the game except him, this results in a great form of manipulation that can lead the victims into a state of real depression.

In a relationship, he knows how to make you dependent on him for your happiness and this is a way of being able to control you. In fact, your self-esteem may depend on his judgement and this is why it is common for victims to stay in relationships for a long time instead of leaving, it is also one of the reasons why those in a kind of narcissistic abuse often fail to form relationships with other people.

The reason is simple, narcissists are extremely destructive people. They don’t want relationships, they want to use people as tools for their own pleasure, and they will always find someone else to manipulate with their manipulative skills.

Their way of doing things also often leads them to victimisation. If you try to confront them, they will turn on you and blame you for hurting them, but not only that, in fact they will blame you for everything that is wrong in your relationship, because it is never their fault, it is always yours. You will never be able to fix things, because there is no way to “fix” what they do since their whole life is an act of destruction.

Narcissist Meaning: Understanding the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy ego

To understand the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy ego, we must first understand what exactly is meant by ‘ego’.

What is ego?

In general, we can say that the ego is that part of our mind that makes us aware of our self. It is that aspect that makes us feel that we are different from others and gives us a sense of individuality. This includes our physical body as well as our mental and emotional aspects such as beliefs, desires, values and so on.

This ‘ego’ or self-awareness is an important part of our lives because it allows us to be separate from others so that we can think for ourselves and take responsibility for who we are and what we do.

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Healthy narcissism

A healthy narcissist is someone who has a good opinion of himself. He has a positive self-image which prevents him from being paralysed by insecurity or overcome by his emotions, and which allows him to mix normally in society. We can therefore say that a healthy ego represents the right amount of confidence, pride and ambition, gives you the energy to get things done, but prevents you from being defensive or arrogant.

Unhealthy narcissism

A person with unhealthy narcissism has an exaggerated sense of his own importance. He sees other people as useful tools or as worthless losers and is trying to prove his superiority to others. This makes it impossible for him to form normal relationships or to think normally about the motivations and feelings of others. An unhealthy ego, therefore, is when you are unable to admit mistakes, learn from them or grow, continuing to have the same arguments or problems with people you had years ago.

You need a certain amount of self-confidence to take charge of your life and pursue your dreams. The problem comes when you confuse confidence with arrogance, or when you turn what should be realistic confidence into an unrealistic overconfidence in something that may not be so secure in the long run.

Your ego also includes what psychologists call your ‘self’: the part of you that wants instant gratification for itself. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to want to feel good, look good, have fun or be successful. But it can become a problem if you want these things so much that you let other values such as kindness, honesty and generosity get in the way.

Arrogance and greed are easy to recognise as unhealthy ego problems. What is not so obvious is the temptation to use other people to make oneself feel better or to protect oneself from negative emotions such as inadequacy or loneliness. This is where the line between healthy and unhealthy ego becomes blurred and crossed.

Narcissist Meaning: Signs that you could be one

How can you tell if you are a narcissist? Here is a list of symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-worth
  • Concern for fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that one is superior and can only be understood by or associated with equally special people
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Exploitative interpersonal behaviour
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Envy of others or belief that others are envious of you
  • Arrogance
  • Exploitation of others to achieve one’s own ends
  • A fraudulent sense of self-confidence
  • Repeated lies about trivial matters, as if you lack the ability to remember or tell the truth
  • You think everything you do is great and everyone else’s opinion is wrong.
  • You say or do things without thinking too much because you think you are so good that your actions will speak for themselves.
  • Furthermore, you believe that one day people will realize how great you are and respect you more.
  • You act like other people are stupid or like they don’t understand what you’re saying.
  • You seem to enjoy looking at yourself, judging how attractive you seem to others.
  • Likewise, you can’t stand criticism, even if it is constructive (and especially if it is constructive).
  • Not only that, but you say what people want to hear instead of what is true.
  • You have no problem manipulating people to get ahead

Can narcissism be cured?

Obviously, treatment of the disorder must necessarily be carried out by a specialist. The most common therapeutic approach is to help the person become more flexible and develop a sense of identity and empathy for others. The aim of therapy is to help the patient regulate his narcissistic tendencies, improve his interpersonal functioning, reduce self-destructive behaviour, increase tolerance of loneliness and improve the ability to express empathy for others.

Narcisista Significato: Conclusioni

Narcissist Meaning: Conclusions

Hopefully, this article has clarified for you the true meaning of the word narcissist. Narcissus is in fact a master of disguise who lures his victims into a false sense of security, only to play with their emotions and make them totally dependent.

The best way to deal with a narcissist is to avoid him. Don’t be swayed by his charm or lies: the only thing he needs are new sources of supply, so try not to become one. And if you see someone bonding with a narcissist, do your best to set him straight. He may not listen to you, but at least you can say you did your part to help him.