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      Narcissism, self-admiration, successful failure

      Dr. Padraic Gibson

      Padraic Gibson is a psychologist, family therapist and supervisor. He works in Ireland, Italy and Malta. He is a Senior Research Associate and Lecturer at Dublin City University and founder of the OCD® and Anxiety Disorders Clinic .

      Narcissism, a term from Greek mythology, has become a buzzword in modern culture. It is often used to describe people who show excessive self-centeredness and an insatiable need for admiration. But what lies beneath the surface of this intriguing personality trait? What drives individuals to display such grandiose smugness? According to a working definition of this pathology, narcissists are people who, in order to escape their emotional fragility, construct for themselves an arrogant, victorious and successful persona, in which they constantly seek recognition, loyalty and approval from others. others.  

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      Self-centered or narcissistic?

      These two concepts refer to this type of personality, narcissism can be considered as a personality disorder, while egocentrism should be considered as a personality trait. Therefore, narcissism can be considered a psychopathology, a dysfunctional personality type, while egocentrism involves certain behaviors and attitudes that lead to certain consequences, but do not constitute a psychological disorder. In the social media ecosystem, these people can often act as influencers, YouTubers, etc. What we are seeing and increasingly seeing in young people today is an increase in narcissistic traits, but it is perhaps misplaced to say that there are more in addition to narcissists. Our clinical observations show that the only thing we can say is that there are more and more egocentric people. Many of the individuals we view as pathological narcissists today instead correspond to an immature form of egocentrism, naïve and often insecure young adults, often unable to take responsibility or express self-esteem. empathy towards others. While egocentric people are not necessarily narcissistic, narcissistic people are always egocentric.

      Psychological explanations

      One of the main theories explaining narcissism focuses on early childhood experiences. Psychologists suggest that people who develop narcissistic traits may have received inconsistent or excessive praise from their caregivers. This can create an inflated sense of self-worth and an expectation of special treatment. Additionally, a lack of empathy or emotional engagement, at critical developmental stages, can hinder the development of healthy self-esteem and lead to a compensatory need for external validation. Another psychological explanation of narcissism revolves around underlying feelings of insecurity and vulnerability. Some researchers propose that narcissistic people mask deep feelings of inadequacy or fear of rejection. By projecting an image of superiority and demanding constant admiration, they attempt to shield themselves from potential criticism or feelings of worthlessness. In addition, certain personality factors, such as a high need for dominance and a sense of entitlement, may contribute to narcissistic tendencies. People with narcissistic traits may seek to exert control over others, crave attention and admiration, and have an exaggerated sense of entitlement to special treatment and privilege.  

      Diagnosis of narcissism

      The American Association Psychiatric Handbook, DSM-V, describes the characteristics of this problem as follows:

      • An exaggerated sense of self importance.
      • Fantasies of success, fame, power, splendor, beauty or exaggerated ideal love.
      • Feel special and unique.
      • Needs continuous attention and excessive admiration. Lack of empathy.
      • Envy of others or belief that others envy him.
      • Arrogant attitudes or behaviors.
      • Specializes in lying.
      • Demands perfection from others.
      • Needs to control and manipulate everything.
      • Increased sense of entitlement to special treatment.
      • Exploits others, takes advantage of them to achieve his goals.

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      Range of behaviors 

      It is important to note that narcissism exists on a spectrum from healthy self-confidence to pathological levels of narcissistic personality disorder. While a certain degree of admiration and self-esteem is essential for healthy psychological functioning, excessive narcissism can lead to interpersonal conflict, impaired relationships, and decreased well-being. Narcissists rarely, if ever, consider the needs of others, and they usually take a transactional approach to relationships, in order to take advantage of them. They are often considered experts in seduction and excel in persuasive communication to achieve their goals. These are people who start out confident, but are trapped in their own glorified image. They have great difficulty connecting to their internal senses or emotions and eternally seek to escape any experience of their emotional fragility and existential pain. Their main goal is control, power and success.  

      How do I know if someone I'm in a relationship with is narcissistic?

      While we should avoid labeling anyone whose behavior we dislike, it helps to be aware of the traits we associate with a narcissist. It can also help us manage our relationship with Him. Dealing with a pathological narcissist is not easy, but we must try not to fall into their traps when establishing a relationship with them. Here are some questions you can ask yourself

      - Does he act as if everything is linked to him?

      - Is their motivation in life to pursue their exaggerated fantasies of success, power, splendor, beauty or ideal love?

      - Do they make the rules and the rules, but the rules don't apply to them?

      - Are they envious and do they generally think that others envy them?

      - Do they humiliate and intimidate you?

      - Do they continually demand?

      - Are they suspicious of other people's motives if they are nice?

      - Are they perfectionists and demanding?

      - Things have to be their way or they are not done?

      - Are they pedantic and do they consider themselves superior?

      - Do they need to be the center of attention and to be recognized all the time?

      - Do they see themselves as having special rights?

      - They are not interested in how things are going with you and how you feel.

      - Don't they have links with emotions and feelings?

      - Do they usually lie to get what they want or to explain a life experience that makes them more successful?

      - Do they think what they say is the most important?

      - Do the conversations end up being monologues of successful fights or do they express an exceptional experience of knowledge of a subject? 

      - Do you feel like they can't be interrupted, and when you do, do you notice it bothers them a lot? (Pascual, 2022)


      Tips for Dealing with a Narcissist

      Tips for Dealing with a Narcissist

      Dealing with a narcissist can be difficult, as their behavior is often characterized by a grandiose sense of smugness, a lack of empathy, and a constant need for admiration. Remember that the strategies below may not eliminate the difficulties associated with relating to a narcissist, but they can help you deal with the situation more effectively and protect your well-being. Even in therapy, narcissists have a great capacity for manipulation, and as experts in manipulative communication, they can possibly consume, manipulate, or use a professional. The most effective strategy is to help yourself first. You need to be psychologically empowered to be able to help a person who thinks they are "incredible". Effective communication with these people must be established in order to have a healthier relationship with them. Indirect therapy with individuals and family members is therefore often the most effective intervention.   

      While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, research and expert advice suggest a few strategies that may prove helpful when interacting with a narcissist:

      - Set and maintain clear boundaries: It is essential to set boundaries in relationships with a narcissist. Communicate your boundaries and expectations for his behavior and hold him accountable if he crosses those boundaries.

      - Take care of yourself: Narcissists can be emotionally draining and manipulative, so prioritizing your well-being is essential. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally by doing activities that bring you joy and by seeking support from friends or professionals you trust.

      - Avoid Personal Attacks and Arguments: Engaging in arguments or trying to prove the narcissist wrong often leads to further conflict and frustration. Narcissists like to get attention and can turn any disagreement into an opportunity to fuel their ego. Instead, try to stay calm, assert your boundaries, and disengage from unnecessary conflict.

      - Use assertive communication: When interacting with a narcissist, it is important to be assertive rather than being aggressive or passive. Express your thoughts and feelings clearly, use the "I" to avoid sounding accusatory, and defend your position without becoming too confrontational.

      - Have realistic expectations: Accept that narcissists are unlikely to change their behavior or perspective, as they typically have deep-seated personality traits. Adjusting your expectations can help you avoid disappointment and minimize the emotional investment of trying to change it.

      - Seek support from others: Connecting with supportive friends, family, or professionals can allow you to express your feelings and take a step back from the situation. They can also guide and advise you on how to deal with the challenges posed by the narcissist.

      - Consider professional help if needed: If you are having trouble coping with the narcissist's behavior or are experiencing significant emotional distress, it may be beneficial to seek therapy or counseling. A mental health professional can provide expert advice and support tailored to your situation


      1. Campbell, WK and Foster, JD (2007). The Narcissistic Self: Background, an Extended Agency Model, and Ongoing Controversies. In C. Sedikides & S. Spencer (Eds.), Frontiers in Social Psychology: The Self (pp. 115-138). PsychologyPress.

      2. Malkin, C. (2015). Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad-and Surprising Good-About Feeling Special. Harper Wave.

      3. Miller, JD and Campbell, WK (2010). The Case for Narcissism's End: An Outdated Concept? In WK Campbell & JD Miller (Eds.), The Handbook of Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Theoretical Approaches, Empirical Findings, and Treatments (pp. 491-498). John Wiley & Sons.

      4. Pascual, J. (2022) Los narcisistas y tú: Learn a gestionarlos en todos los ámbitos de tu vida (Autoayuda y superación). Zenit Books.

      5.Ronningstam, EF (2005). Identify and understand the narcissistic personality. Oxford University Press.

      6. Twenge, JM and Campbell, WK (2009). The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. FreePress.

      7. Vaknin, S. (2015). Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. Narcissus Publications.

      8. Watson, PJ and Campbell, WK (2019). Narcissism: The Science of the Scapegoat. American Psychological Association.

      9. Wink, P. (1996). Two Faces of Narcissism: A Social Relations Perspective. Psychological Inquiry, 7(4), 285-290.

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      A team of more than
      50 trainers in France
      and abroad

      of our students satisfied with
      their training year at LACT *

      International partnerships

      The quality certification was issued under
      the following category of actions: Training action


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