What does a broken down narcissist look like

Narcissism: Small ego really big

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It all depends on the perspective: this is one of many truths that people become aware of in the course of their lives. Most people have known what a narcissist is since puberty. On the one hand, because they either know ancient history or have read Hermann Hesse's "Narcissus and Goldmund". On the other hand, because being enthusiastic about oneself is a quality that has become mainstream in recent years in the context of excessive self-portrayal in digital media (keyword selfie).

Much confusion, says the American psychologist Craig Malkin, whose book "The Narcissist Test" has just been published by Dumont. The US psychologist knows what he's talking about: Growing up with an eccentric mother, whom he only recognized after many years of personal therapy as a woman with a pronounced narcissistic personality disorder, he knows about the mechanisms that drive narcissists.

Blind in love with yourself

So much in advance: Craig Malkin begins with his narcissism consideration with the ancient myths, tells the story of the self-loving river god as a phenomenon that impresses others so much that they fall silent - like the nymph Echo, for example. This shows that narcissism is as old as humanity itself.

But Malkin quickly draws a line to the present, as a psychologist, so to speak, puts on narcissism glasses and looks at human traits from this perspective.

First of all, says Malkin, narcissism is an important driver for development. Narcissism as a wish to want to be special for the parents begins in childhood. Malkin is convinced that narcissism is the engine of just about every progress, and every person has more or less strong narcissistic elements. The core of the book is a test in which every reader can get an idea of ​​himself. "Know yourself (and others)" seems to have been the leitmotif for the author.

Driving force

Whether courage, overcoming frustration, creativity, frustration: Narcissism plays a role in many areas - it becomes problematic when social skills suffer and living together is burdened by one's own obsession. Anyone who thinks that these are always cocky types is wrong - Malkin sees those who are particularly "dangerous narcissists" who constantly put their light under a bushel and sacrifice themselves for their tasks: it is particularly difficult to recognize you as a narcissist, but especially important to get along with them.

Through the many case studies that Malkin cites in his book, a fairly precise picture emerges from page to page. He plays through life situations: narcissists as lovers, as friends, as bosses or in parent-child relationships, whereby he emphasizes that the right approach is always decisive. In a rather striking American way, he even gives his readers something like a script for the right sentences.

Find balance

The basic tenor: Narcissism is a kind of more or less pronounced feeling of inferiority that those affected are constantly trying to compensate. Malkin also declines the consequences that narcissistic behavior means for non-narcissists - in addition to all the negative effects, above all fun, the unexpected and excitement.

In the end, Craig Malkin's aim is to give his readers an image of balance, because pronounced narcissists are unhappy people in the long run who drag others into a vortex. So the goal is a good mix of self-worth and empathy or at least an idea of ​​what that could mean exactly. (Karin Pollack, 5.5.2016)