– Hi, it’s Dr. Fox. Licensed psychologist in the state of Texas. Expert in the area of personality disorders. Today, I wanted to talk about what is narcissism? I think that there’s a lot of confusion, that folks think that, a component of narcissism, means that you have narcissistic personality disorder. It actually doesn’t. I think that got me to thinking, I get a lot of questions and emails and stuff from folks, that ask questions about narcissistic personality disorder. What is narcissism and different components. I thought, “Well, let’s do a video, on what is narcissism?” So what I did is I identified 10 components.
What we’ll do, is we’ll go through the 10 components and we’ll talk about how they factor in, or what components and how they’re related to narcissism. Now, if you’ve been watching my channel, you know that I often say that all disorders are on a spectrum. Narcissism, is no exception. Okay, so in this video, we’ll discuss the components of narcissism and what makes it a disorder, as opposed to a trait. So, it’s a combination of traits, that make the whole disorder. So let’s talk about these 10 components that I identified and if you enjoy the video, please like, share and subscribe.
Leave any comments below. I love the comments, so thank you very much. Let’s get started. Let’s get into it. So the first one is grandiosity. I think that that sort of is hallmark, central classic component of what folks think is narcissism. Now grandiosity is an enhanced, or it’s unrealistic sense of superiority, uniqueness, value, or capability. It’s expressed either overtly, in unreasonable expectations.
Exceptional or unrealistic high aspirations. And self-centeredness. Or, it can be covertly. This is in persistent, convictions and fantasies of unfulfilled ambitions or unlimited power and success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal relationships. Now it’s important to realize, that there is overt and covert grandiosity or narcissism. Your overt, I think is what a lot of us expect, right? Is that it’s obvious. These people like walk around and they’re all grandiose and they think they deserve all these wonderful things and all this other stuff. Then there’s covert. Covert is much more certainly tricky. Much more confusing for a lot of folks, because, on the surface initially, these folks seem very humble. They can seem very contrite, things like that. But what happens is over time, you realize that it’s this, it’s a very covert type of grandiosity. The way that I like to define it and explain it, to either clients or mental health providers, when I’m doing training, is that they suffer more than anyone else will ever suffer.
That their negative experiences are so extreme and so unique, that no one else could understand. That’s a component of grandiosity. Their grandiose suffering, that other people can’t understand. A lot of times, the components that they’re talking about, tend to be very mild. They may not always be, but typically they are. Okay, so that’s the first component, which is grandiosity. Now let’s talk about the second one. The second one, is variable self-esteem. Now this variable self-esteem, it’s an alternating between states of sort of overconfidence, superiority and assertiveness, with this sense of inferiority and insecurity. What can happen here is because it’s variable self-esteem, when they encounter a situation they can’t control, it hurts them and they incur what’s called a narcissistic wound. They explode and they just go off and they have rage episodes and things like that. That’s ’cause they’re so hurt. A lot of people on the outside, are usually very surprised. They’re like, “Where’s that coming from?” Because the insult is usually not a very overt or direct insult, maybe, that it is something that they’ve interpreted as hurting them, as being hurtful to them, but the average person may not.
So it’s not like a direct attack. It may be something that’s very subtle, which could be not texting back when they expect. Not giving them the hello in the morning, or the hug in the morning, or the kisses, or whatever it is, that they expect, because if you don’t, that incurs a narcissistic wound and they then have to react in order to re-stabilize their self-esteem, their ego state, in rage, in order to re-stabilize that.
So that’s variable self-esteem. Now the next one is similar to the other. It’s reactions to perceived threats to self-esteem. This could be like humiliation, defeat, criticism, failures. This could include feelings of overt or covert anger. Hostility, envy, or shame. Mood variations are very common. Irritability, anxiety, depression, elation. Or, it can even be components of deceit and retaliating behavior. It’s not uncommon for a lot of folks, who have this particular trait, or those who are narcissistic, to do a lot of passive aggressive behaviors. To engage in a lot of passive aggressive tactics, in order to make others pay.
Some folks, it depends upon where they are on the spectrum. So I think the further you are, your more severe and extreme narcissistic individuals, they tend to feel very entitled to outwardly express their hate. Right, so they don’t have a lot of good self-control. So they just let folks have it, because they have a right to do that. But I think the moderate ones, which of course moderate is actually more common. Moderate levels of narcissism, is much more common. I think that these folks, what happens is that they, some of them are able to sit back kind of in their head and like, “Mm-hmm, okay.” That could be, let’s say you’re playing table tennis, right, ping pong.
(tongue clicking) Right? And, then right, you beat them and they may sit there and say, “Okay, mm-hmm fine. You win, fine. I’m gonna beat you by doing A, B and C.” Then they engage in these tactics, to just sort of tear you up, right? They do that, in all these different ways and you’re like, “What is that about?” You find it hard it to believe that how could instances for losing a ping pong game, cause someone to rage against you in that way? But that’s how these folks function. That’s how they operate. It’s reactions to these perceived threat to self-esteem. They see you as a threat to their way of being. So they have to take that person out. Now that doesn’t mean murder or death, or anything like that. What that means is, to hurt you in some way. To get one up on you, in some way. There’s a lot of instances that you’ll see in the news and in others lives and if you know these people, or you see these people on TV, you’ll see that if, they may say something that’s completely false, right? That makes no sense at all.
Then, when they’re called on it, because there’s no evidence to support that, you see that they even become more entrenched in this idea and then they become passive aggressive, to make those people pay. Whether it’s if they’re able to fire them, or if they’re able to manipulate them, or if they’re able to destroy their life in some way, they will engage in that behavior to do that.
It is so extreme and that’s all because, of a perceived threat to their self-esteem, to that ego, that narcissistic ego state. So that’s the third one. So let’s talk about the fourth one. It’s a self-enhancing interpersonal behavior. This is excessive attention, or admiration seeking. Self-promoting. They can often be very boastful. Very, very competitive. So and that could even be like with their kids, like if they have a young kid, that maybe they’re out throwing the baseball around, or whatever. That becomes a competition. This narcissistic individual, has to beat them. They have to get over on them. They have to win and maybe they’re just playing ball with their seven year old. This person’s an adult, so they have to win. They have to have those self-enhancing interpersonal behaviors. They engage in it all the time.
They need that constant attention. They need that constant admiration seeking, because that helps validate that low self-esteem. Now the next one, this is self-serving interpersonal behavior. Now this is expecting sort of unreasonable or unwarranted rights and services. They fail to reciprocate favors from others, right? They feel entitled. We’ll talk about entitlement specifically in a second, as it falls under this.
Right, they feel very entitled. Or taking emotional, intellectual, or social advantage of others. So they’re very exploitive. Now in this self-serving interpersonal behavior, entitlement falls under that. There’s a lot of confusion between the trait of entitlement and narcissistic personality disorder. Notice this is one component that we’re talking about. Just ’cause folks are entitled, does not mean that they’re narcissistic. Now depends upon the degree, right, but that’s one component. So when I do trainings and I talk to clients and things, entitlement doesn’t equal narcissism, right? Or narcissistic personality disorder. It is one component. So entitlement is that, “I don’t have to do anything, that I am just deserving of it, right? So don’t expect me to work, because I don’t have to. Because I am that special and unique.” So that’s a self-serving interpersonal behavior. Now the next one is avoiding. Internally, self-sufficient or interpersonally controlling, distant, or they can even be, have an uncommitted attitude or behavior, that serves to avoid threats to self-esteem, or intolerable effects.
So they avoid anything that may upset them, right? Anything that will be an emotional circumstance beyond what they can control and what they can manage. So what they do is, they try to control these situations. I did a video on this and we talk specifically about enlisting. Now enlisting is that you pull people in your environment and in your interpersonal circle, that justify your narcissism. People with narcissistic personality disorder, are very, very good at that. This is that component. They do it to avoid the reality of relationships. Relationships are variable, right? No matter how great they are, or how terrible they are. They are variable. Emotionally variable. That’s ’cause our moods change every day. That’s for everybody. For anyone to expect your mood to be the same, from Monday to Friday, to Saturday, to Sunday and that to include every Monday, Saturday, Sunday or whatever, is unrealistic.
All of our moods change and they fluctuate, based upon where we are in life, a lot of different circumstances and different reasons and so on and so on and so forth. But, what your narcissist does, because they don’t have a lot of emotions to pull from. They don’t have a lot of understanding of different variabilities, they try to limit their interpersonal circle, hence, they enlist people that don’t challenge them, or push back on those narcissistic views and values. They avoid anything that might be harmful to them emotionally, difficult for them emotionally, or cognitively as well, ’cause they hate to appear stupid, right? Because if you make a mistake, doesn’t that equal that you’re stupid? Of course it doesn’t. Because we all make mistakes.
Mistakes are great, because we learn from those mistakes. That’s not how narcissists see it. So the next one that we’re gonna talk about, is being aggressive. Now this is overtly expressed, or internally concealed interpersonal argumentative and critical, resentful, hostile, passive aggressive, cruel or sadistic attitude or behavior. These folks can be very, very aggressive, especially if they incur a narcissistic wound. So aggressive, tendency towards aggression, is a component of narcissism. But where does it come from? Remember, in all my videos, I talk about core content and surface content. So what is that core content? A lot of folks, for a narcissistic personality, or those who have narcissism, or narcissistic traits, underneath is a lot of shame, doubt, fear, inferiority.
All of those issues. And when they get called out, or they have an experience that triggers that core content, a lot of times, the surface structure behavior is aggressive behavior. So a lot of times it is just impactful, massive, rage episodes that I talked about just a second ago. They engage in this behavior and a lot of times, they have poor emotional control, self-regulation. So they can really get lost in their aggression. Especially, if the other person really kind of backs up, shows a lot of fear, that encourages that individual to continue to be aggressive. To behave in an aggressive way.
That doesn’t mean that it’s that person’s fault, who’s afraid of someone who’s being aggressive. That’s a pretty normal response. But it’s important to recognize, that when you show that fear, that individual with narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder, that that feeds that and they like it. So they’re like, “Oh yeah.” They engage more and more. So that’s aggressive. The next trait is perfectionism. This is exceptionally high or inflexible, even though it is inconsistent, ideals and standards of self and others. Now this is strong reactions, including aggression, we talked about, self-harsh criticism, that would be during your more covert phase. Shame or deceitfulness, when self or others fail to measure up. Typically, they have this unrealistic expectation of self and others. So this sense of perfectionism is so unrealistic, no one could ever, ever meet it.
You just couldn’t. Because you’d have to be in someone’s head, and know what they expect, before they knew to expect it. They’re gonna be like, “Huh?” Right, how could you ever do that? “I can’t get in your head and know what to expect, before you expect it.” But that is their sense of perfectionism. Is that you should know that. How could you not know that? And if you don’t know it, then they call you stupid, or incompetent, or anything like that. Then they can engage in these other behaviors, right, like we talked about, rage, passive aggressive behaviors, so on and so forth. So that’s that component of perfectionism.
Now the next one is impaired empathic ability. Now this is inconsistent and compromised by self-centeredness, self-serving interests, or emotional dysregulation. So it’s like a low, effective tolerant, low emotional tolerance, or intense reactions, shame, envy, inferiority, powerlessness, or anger. So what happens is, is that what you experience, your emotional experiences, are pretty relevant to theirs. Theirs is so special. It could just be a component of sadness that they experience, whereas you perhaps have had a catastrophic loss, or something very serious that has happened in your life. Could be a divorce, a death of a loved one, whatever it may be.
But, they don’t empathize with that, because they’re sad. You should know about their sadness, is much more important than your experience, right? So that impaired empathic ability. You see this sort of callousness built up over time, where they’re just, they just don’t care. They just don’t seem to care about anyone or anything. Because they’ve enlisted people in their interpersonal circle, who accept this and tolerate this, over a period of time, that no one challenges them. So then, that sense of impaired empathic ability, actually becomes very adaptive in their situation. So, they’re actually reinforced for that impaired empathic ability, because the people around them don’t challenge them on it. Hey, we’re not blaming anybody. We’re just describing that situation. The last one, number 10, you’re not gonna be surprised about, is attention seeking. This is an excessive attempt to attract and be the focus of the attention of others. They are attention seeking.
Admiration seeking. They have to have the spotlight. This is where you get a little bit of a histrionic personality kind of feel to them, but they’re attention seeking, admiration seeking, they need that all the time. Maybe you know, right, when folks who don’t have this component. Sometimes, you know you’re in the spotlight, right and you did something really well and people are like, “Hey, man. Good job, nice job.” You’re like, “Yeah, that’s cool.” But they need it all the time. Over and over and over and over and over. So they need, “Atta boys, atta girls”, all the time. So they’re like little kitties and you have to pet them, all the time.
They need that attention all the time. It’s very trying and very difficult for others. Which is why a lot of times, I don’t like the word co-dependency, but they’re able to find folks, that do have this sense of co-dependency, that want to feel good about themselves, by trying to make others feel good about themselves, which your narcissistic individuals never feel good about themselves, because they blame others for why they don’t feel good about themselves. So they’re trying to make other people suffer, so that then they can feel good and powerful, so the co-dependent individual in the relationship, tries to make them okay, so they’re okay, but they’re never okay, ’cause they have the narcissism, which is a core content issue, that never gets addressed, because it’s covered by the surface content of narcissism.
If that sounds confusing, you may need to rewind it, hear it a little bit. That’s actually the components of narcissism. I didn’t make that up. So I hope that these 10 components have been helpful for you. Now remember though, that just one or two of these, doesn’t necessarily mean that they have narcissistic personality disorder. What we’re talking about what makes narcissism? Now according to the DSM, you need five or more, but also, these behaviors, they also have to cause socioeconomic dysfunction. That is difficulty in social relationships, economic relationships. If they’re school age, they’re having difficulty academically. So they have to have that difficulty in those facets, as well. Also, cannot be seen when you’re drunk or high. Also, cannot be the result of taking medication. Cannot be the result of a traumatic brain injury, or a medical condition.
So, it’s very complex and there’s a lot of different facets. So I hope that these 10 components have helped you to kind of get a greater insight into the sense of narcissism and it’s really important to sort of be able to recognize these things in how these people operate and function and that can give you a lot of power. With a lot of power, comes choice. Choice is power, as well, because then you can decide if this is someone you want in your interpersonal circle, or not. I think it’s important for all of us, to go through our life and say, “Yeah, you know, this person is good. This is somebody I’d like in my life.” Then to say, “You know what? Maybe it’s not working out and maybe it’s time to move on.” That’s hard and then we have to break that down too. So, with a lot of my clients, we do that a lot. We do sort of relationship analysis, where we can figure out, “Is this a relationship that helps you move forward?” Because as you grow and develop a greater sense of self, you find that, sometimes we have to self-select out of relationships.
That could be a whole nother video. Self-selecting out of unhealthy relationships, or growing out of relationships. So if you’re interested, let me know. Please like, share and subscribe. Tell your friends. Thank you very much for your time and attention tonight. Wish you all the best. Be well. Bye, bye..