In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of a God who fell in love with his own reflection. In modern psychology, his name has been used to describe people who have extreme self-confidence, an inflated sense of self, and a person who always puts themselves first before anyone else. In short, a narcissist.
The word narcissist has been used to label many people. For example, anyone who displays traits associated with being incredibly confident and arrogant is quickly labeled a narcissist.
But what does narcissism really mean? Narcissism is classified as a psychological disorder with clear and well-defined guidelines and parameters used by clinicians. It is characterized by one’s exaggerated sense of self-importance, need for constant attention and admiration from others, and the inability to recognize the needs of others.
Not too far off that trail are people who are described as having an inflated ego. Ego, or one’s self-esteem and self-importance, is crucial to our mental health. It can influence how we behave and our relationships with other people. Having a big ego means that one has an inflated sense of self-importance. These people believe that they are better than everyone and tend to be overconfident, selfish, and cocky.
Sounds like a narcissist, right? Well, there are similarities between a person with a huge ego and someone who is a narcissist.
Inflated Ego and Narcissism
Having an inflated ego or being narcissistic are two attitudes that show common traits. One of the defining character traits of a person diagnosed with narcissism is having a big ego. They view themselves as superior to others, believing that they are unique compared to the rest of the crowd. Because of their ego, they strive hard to be the best and most accomplished person in their field. Similarly, narcissists exhibit the same quality in their relationships, always wanting to control and have the last say in everything.
While having a big ego is one of the characteristics of a narcissist, not all those with huge egos can be considered a narcissist. There is a fine line between being egotistic and narcissistic, as our ego is closely related to narcissism.
The difference between them is mainly in the degree to which these narcissistic behaviors are manifested. Moreover, we have to keep in mind that narcissism is a clinically diagnosed mental disorder that has to satisfy many criteria before one can be formally diagnosed.
Other Characteristics of a Narcissist
In addition to having an inflated ego, here are some other characteristics that are commonly observed among narcissists.
Lack of Empathy
Narcissists fail to see things from another person’s point of view due to their lack of empathy. They only see things from their viewpoint and emphasize their own feelings and comfort. Narcissists do not know how to acknowledge other people’s feelings and often lack remorse or guilt over their actions.
Feeling of Entitlement
Narcissists believe that they are entitled to everything. They consider themselves special and only expect favorable treatment from everyone else. Because of this trait, narcissists expect that the people around them should automatically comply with their demands, as they believe this is due to them. If they are denied their selfish needs, narcissists can retaliate by becoming aggressive or giving the other person the cold shoulder.
Furthermore, their feelings of entitlement lead them to have difficulties respecting boundaries. As a result, narcissists often resort to manipulative tactics to get what they want.
Needs Constant Praise
Applause and recognition are the things that fuel a narcissist’s ego. Narcissists live in a world where they believe they possess unlimited success, power, and brilliance – thus, they expect everyone to be in awe of their abilities.
As a result, narcissists often surround themselves with people who feed them with their desire to be praised constantly. However, they rarely return those compliments and affirmations, making relationships with a narcissist one-sided. Once the compliments and admiration stop, they believe that they have been betrayed.
Having a big ego is one of the common characteristics of people with narcissistic personality disorder. However, not all those with inflated egos can be considered as such. We have to keep in mind that narcissism is a psychological disorder that needs to be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. While they share many similar qualities, being a narcissist or having a big ego will differ in the degree to which their traits will affect their lives.