Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Way before the first selfie, the ancient Greeks and Romans had a myth about someone a little too obsessed with his own image.

  • In one telling,

  • Narcissus was a handsome guy wandering the world in search of someone to love.

  • After rejecting a nymph named Echo,

  • he caught a glimpse of his own reflection in a river,

  • and fell in love with it.

  • Unable to tear himself away,

  • Narcissus drowned.

  • A flower marked the spot of where he died, and we call that flower the Narcissus.

  • The myth captures the basic idea of narcissism,

  • elevated and sometimes detrimental self-involvement.

  • But it's not just a personality type that shows up in advice columns.

  • It's actually a set of traits classified and studied by psychologists.

  • The psychological definition of narcissism is an inflated, grandiose self-image.

  • To varying degrees, narcissists think they're better looking,

  • smarter,

  • and more important than other people,

  • and that they deserve special treatment.

  • Psychologists recognize two forms of narcissism as a personality trait:

  • grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.

  • There's also narcissistic personality disorder,

  • a more extreme form, which we'll return to shortly.

  • Grandiose narcissism is the most familiar kind,

  • characterized by extroversion,

  • dominance,

  • and attention seeking.

  • Grandiose narcissists pursue attention and power,

  • sometimes as politicians,

  • celebrities,

  • or cultural leaders.

  • Of course, not everyone who pursues these positions of power is narcissistic.

  • Many do it for very positive reasons,

  • like reaching their full potential,

  • or helping make people's lives better.

  • But narcissistic individuals seek power

  • for the status and attention that goes with it.

  • Meanwhile, vulnerable narcissists can be quiet and reserved.

  • They have a strong sense of entitlement,

  • but are easily threatened or slighted.

  • In either case, the dark side of narcissism shows up over the long term.

  • Narcissists tend to act selfishly,

  • so narcissistic leaders may make risky or unethical decisions,

  • and narcissistic partners may be dishonest or unfaithful.

  • When their rosy view of themselves is challenged,

  • they can become resentful and aggressive.

  • It's like a disease where the sufferers feel pretty good,

  • but the people around them suffer.

  • Taken to the extreme,

  • this behavior is classified as a psychological disorder

  • called narcissistic personality disorder.

  • It affects one to two percent of the population,

  • more commonly men.

  • It is also a diagnosis reserved for adults.

  • Young people, especially children, can be very self-centered,

  • but this might just be a normal part of development.

  • The fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

  • describes several traits associated with narcissistic personality disorder.

  • They include a grandiose view of oneself,

  • problems with empathy,

  • a sense of entitlement,

  • and a need for admiration or attention.

  • What makes these traits a true personality disorder

  • is that they take over people's lives and cause significant problems.

  • Imagine that instead of caring for your spouse or children,

  • you used them as a source of attention or admiration.

  • Or imagine that instead of seeking

  • constructive feedback about your performance,

  • you instead told everyone who tried to help you

  • that they were wrong.

  • So what causes narcissism?

  • Twin studies show a strong genetic component,

  • although we don't know which genes are involved.

  • But environment matters, too.

  • Parents who put their child on a pedestal

  • can foster grandiose narcissism.

  • And cold, controlling parents can contribute to vulnerable narcissism.

  • Narcissism also seems to be higher

  • in cultures that value individuality and self-promotion.

  • In the United States, for example,

  • narcissism as a personality trait has been rising since the 1970s,

  • when the communal focus of the 60s

  • gave way to the self-esteem movement

  • and a rise in materialism.

  • More recently, social media has multiplied the possibilities for self-promotion,

  • though it's worth noting

  • that there's no clear evidence that social media causes narcissism.

  • Rather, it provides narcissists a means to seek social status and attention.

  • So can narcissists improve on those negative traits?

  • Yes!

  • Anything that promotes honest reflection on their own behavior

  • and caring for others,

  • like psychotherapy or practicing compassion towards others, can be helpful.

  • The difficulty is it can be challenging

  • for people with narcissistic personality disorder

  • to keep working at self-betterment.

  • For a narcissist, self-reflection is hard from an unflattering angle.

Way before the first selfie, the ancient Greeks and Romans had a myth about someone a little too obsessed with his own image.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 US TED-Ed narcissism narcissistic grandiose personality disorder

【TED-Ed】The psychology of narcissism - W. Keith Campbell

  • 37908 3405
    Frank posted on 2016/05/26
Video vocabulary