Do you view other people as extras in the movie of your life? When the kitchen overcooks your dinner, do you take it out of the server’s tip? Do you wait until right before the exit to cut in front of the line of cars? When you give to charity, do you make sure others know about it? Do you feel the need to incessantly post on social media? These are all traits of narcissism, and it is on the rise in America.
Everyone has some degree of narcissism in them. What is most concerning, however, is how quickly people seem to be getting more narcissistic. A 2009 study by Tewnge and Campbell suggested that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has more than doubled in the past 10 years. The disorder is the clinical version of extreme narcissism.
NPD is marked by an inflated sense of self, coupled with an intense need for the admiration and respect of others. Narcissists have little to no regard for how other people may feel or think. They lack empathy. Their personality traits include arrogance, dominance, superiority, and the desire to seek power.
About 1 in 10 Americans in their 20s have symptoms of NPD, and 1 out of 16 people of all ages have symptoms. The fundamental problem of the narcissist is the inability to understand the perspective of others. Everyone has an “assumed similarity bias” in which we tend to believe that other people agree with our views, even when we have little objective reason for thinking so. We also assume that our own communication is clearer than it really is, and consistently overestimate our own abilities (self-perception bias). The more pronounced these tendencies, the more narcissistic the individual.
The people that surround you in your day to day life are real people. We generally don’t take time to consider that the person serving our coffee or walking by on the street has a full life story, as complex and rich as our own. Simply put, we are not as special as we believe we are. Without this awareness, we lose the ability to understand each other. If you really want to see a person’s true self, watch how they treat the people who serve them. Then consider if you act in the same way.
Psychology Today It’s a Fine Line between Narcissism and Egocentrism: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201204/it-s-fine-line-between-narcissism-and-egocentrism
American Psychological Association, Reflecting on Narcissism: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/narcissism.aspx
San Diego State University, Young People See Social Networking as Attention Seeking: http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news.aspx?s=71510