Doing Life Together

self-love-65693_1920You can walk in a room, have a conversation and know if someone is a narcissist. How is that possible? Is it really that easy.?

Researchers at Ohio State University say, “Yes.” They have discovered the quickest way to tell if someone is a narcissist. Are you ready?

Simply ask them.

According to Brad Bushman, a professor at Ohio State University who coauthored a study on narcissism, narcissists feel entitled and believe they deserve special treatment. So, they don’t try to hide the fact that they are a narcissist.

In their research, people were asked to decide to what extent they agreed with the statement: I am a narcissist (egotistical, self-focused and vain). Surprisingly, people who were narcissistic answered,  yes, that is me. That single question proved to be as accurate as a commonly used diagnostic test for narcissism.

T.S. Eliot reminds us that “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm [that they cause] does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” 

According to Bushman, this endless struggle to think well of yourself is partially explained by parenting.  Parents can contribute to the budding of a narcissist. Specifically he says that parents who think their child is better than others, more special and deserving of better treatment, cross the line from healthy loving to overvaluing their child. That overvaluing leads to feelings of truly being special and elevating yourself above others.

Thus parenting is a contributing factor, but so are genetics. We know from other studies that there is a genetic role in the developing of narcissism as well. There are a number of researchers who have scanned the brain of narcissists and see differences in brain structures related to connectivity. This especially affects empathy. Some feel that narcissism should be considered a brain disorder that needs to be better understood. Perhaps this would lead to people feeling more compassionate towards narcissists.

Even though narcissism is an ingrained personality trait, it can be changed over time with intervention and help. The work may be hard and long but change is possible. So if you spot a narcissist, as difficult as it might be, try to be understanding of the ways the environment and genetics have shaped the person.


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