What Is Narcissism?

The nature of self-love and of this human Ego is to love self only and consider self only. But what will man do? He cannot prevent this object that he loves from being full of faults and wants. He wants to be great, and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he sees himself miserable. He wants to be perfect, and he sees himself full of imperfections. He wants to be the object of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment in which he finds himself produces in him the most unrighteous and criminal passion that can be imagined; for he conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves him and which convinces him of his faults. He would annihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot endure either that others should point them out to him, or that they should see them.

Truly it is an evil to be full of faults; but it is a still greater evil to be full of them and to be unwilling to recognise them, since that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion. We do not like others to deceive us; we do not think it fair that they should be held in higher esteem by us than they deserve; it is not, then, fair that we should deceive them and should wish them to esteem us more highly than we deserve.

- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, II, 100

Podcast of the Day

How does narcissism differ from vanity, smugness, conceit? What's wrong with it? Simon Blackburn addresses these questions in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.

Listen to Simon Blackburn on Narcissism

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

In preparing to write this article, my intention had been to highlight how narcissistic personality remains largely misunderstood by the public. Specifically, I have found that most of the clients and everyday individuals I talk to about narcissism tend to associate it with a sense of superiority, meaning that they understand narcissists as having an inflated ego. While an outward show of superiority is a definite part of the narcissistic personality, a sense of superiority (or pursuit of it) is not the central factor of the disorder. The root of the disorder is actually a strict resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone at any time.

Here’s a lay description of how it works: The narcissist does not truly trust others in close relationships. Because the narcissist does not trust others, he (Note: you could just as easily change the pronoun to she) refuses to put himself in a position where he feels vulnerable. Despite the outward appearance of grandiosity and superiority, the narcissist actually lives in a state of anxiety and hypervigilance...

Continue reading Seth Meyers' article: The Roots of Narcissism

Further Reading

Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one's own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory, which was popularly introduced in Sigmund Freud's essay On Narcissism (1914). The American Psychiatric Association has listed the classification narcissistic personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 1968, drawing on the historical concept of megalomania...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Narcissism

Related Topics

AuthenticityFreud | Hypocrisy

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