Narcissism and vanity are often considered mirror images of each other. We think of both as being enamored with our own beauty image and self-centered attitudes. This, however, is a shallow representation of what Narcissism really is. Narcissism is a spectrum. On one side, you have self-assurance and confidence, which makes for a happy and healthy personality. On the other side, you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is self-centered, non-empathetic, and emotionally draining to be around. Narcissism and vanity are somewhere in the middle. They’re not healthy but they’re not as damaging as NPD.
NPD can only be diagnosed by a professional and isn’t something you can develop or catch. The seed of Narcissism is usually planted in childhood. Differences in upbringing make for differences in Narcissism and change which narcissistic traits people develop.
What types of Narcissism are there? How does narcissism present itself? We’re so glad you asked!
Narcissistic people can be either body oriented– called the Somatic Narcissist– or personality oriented –called the Cerebral Narcissist. Somatic Narcissists focus on looking better than everyone else. They’re the ones with the fancy clothes, perfect hair, and gym bodies. Cerebral Narcissists focus on things like being smarter or funnier than everyone else. They’ll start debates in order to win them, and live off the praise fed to them from other people.
On top of this body/mind division, there are also four main ways narcissism can present itself.
Loud, outspoken, and always right. These narcissists tend to be bullies and use their words to tear down the people around them. This is the most common presentation of narcissism.
Sneaky, like snakes in the grass. You might not even recognize this person as a narcissist. They pretend to be kind and gentle when in reality, they’re manipulative and cold, feeding off the people closest to them. They use people as a means to an end: to gain money, power, fame, whatever they want.
We don’t mean seductive like high heels and fishnets. These narcissists tend to praise and idolize people close to them in order to get the same response back. They suck people in with admiration and compliments Then drop you with no warning. By playing hot and cold, they keep you on the hook and get their ego constantly fed.
These people aim, shoot, and destroy. They’re the most dangerous of all the narcissists, and might be confused with the overt narcissists because of how outspoken they are. Be warned. These people will do and say anything to destroy their victims and Often will trash talk and incite anger and other third parties to turn more people against their victims.
Worrying you might be a narcissist? Don’t. While you might present traits of narcissism, You’re likely somewhere in the middle, a non-dangerous portion of the spectrum.
Preview photo credit Psych2Go