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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Ego vs Narcissism

We have all exhibited mild sometimes moderate characteristic of an inflated ego. Most of us have put ourselves first at the expense of others at some point in our lives. Having a small dose of ego is natural, expected, and even healthy. Ego creation is an essential part of normal development. However, ego turns into narcissism when we start to become completely self-absorbed, lacking empathy for others, etc.

I am sure many of us have read the Greek mythology, Narcissus. Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. Narcissus was known for his intense sense of vanity. He was celebrated for his beauty and attracted many admirers but, in his arrogance, spurned them all. Narcissus was eventually lured to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention there are different variations to the end of this story, i.e., Narcissus withers away staring at his reflection, stabs himself, reaches in the water to embrace the image, but drowns, etc. However, the ending remains the same, Narcissus dies with unrequited love, for himself. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one's physical appearance.

Everyone demonstrates some form of narcissism, usually a mild form. However, other people may demonstrate moderate or even severe traits of narcissism. Some of the traits of narcissism –such as inflated sense of self-confidence, arrogance and marked inflated sense of self are frequently attributed to people with a “big ego”. Chronic narcissism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder is often under-diagnosed as many high functioning individuals are perceived as people with big egos due to their successes.

Narcissistic Characteristic Include:

  • Inflated sense of self-importance/grandiosity

  • Requires excessive compliments, admiration, and validation

  • Believes no one is as smart as, can do things as well as, etc.

  • Strong sense of entitlement

  • Shows arrogant, haughty [rude and abusive] behaviors or attitudes.

  • Lacks empathy

  • Self-absorbed

  • Believe others are envious of him/her.

  • Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

  • Places unreasonable expectations or demands on others

  • Demonstrates arrogant, haughty behaviors and/or attitudes

  • Defensive of personal mistakes

  • Demanding or unrealistic expectations of self and others

  • Fall into periods of hopelessness and helplessness when things do not work out their way

Ego Characteristic Include:

  • Significant self confidence

  • Realistic expectations

  • Reasonable and thoughtful goal planning

  • Pride in one’s ability but realistic in their personal capabilities

  • Acknowledges and “owns” mistakes, but may experience a diminished sense of pride as a result.

  • solid self esteem

  • Ability to accept rejection

  • Able to “go with the flow” or overcome adversity

  • They do not fall into periods of hopelessness and helplessness

  • Able to stay focused on their goals and keep a healthy perspective.

  • Has the ability to empathize for others

Unlike people described as having a “big ego”, narcissism involves exaggerated self-confidence, an inflated view of one’s abilities and unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. People with big egos are able to “roll with the punches”, and get pick themselves up following a failure. However, narcissistic people often have pronounced difficulty rebounding from a failure, or escaping feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and maintaining a healthy perspective.

Although, we all have some measure of an ego, most of us typically outgrown or decrease our level of self-centeredness. Those that do not outgrow or develop an excessive need of appraisal and validation will ultimately become consumed with an inflated sense of self-worth, grandiosity, placing unrealistic demands on self and others.

#Ego #NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder #Narcissism #CopingStrategies #Personality

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