In a Word . . . Narcissism

And my first title could be PS, Light a Penny Candle. What do you think?

And my first title could be PS, Light a Penny Candle. What do you think?

 

Dear Santy,

I want to be a narcissist when I grow up. Could you make me one for Christmas? In a study at Queen’s University Belfast they found that people with high levels of narcissism were mentally tougher, and had lower rates of depression and stress than humbler peers.

They also easily attracted followers, were more likely to be promoted in their jobs and got paid more. What’s not to like? Okay, narcissism has been described as “excessive self-admiration”, but I could live with that.

It’s a small price to pay. I could learn. I have known all my life I’ve been too humble. Instinctively, I have known deep down that humility is not good for you.

Or me!

Dr Kostas Papageorgiou of Queen’s School of Psychology found that people with narcissistic personality traits – such as grandiosity, superiority and entitlement – were driven by a belief that they were worth it.

I can sympathise.

And he found their number had increased noticeably over recent years. No, he did not conclude this was in any way influenced by he who is resident at the White House in recent years. He whose name we dare not speak (for fear of four more years!).

Dr Papageorgiou’s research involved more than 700 adults who exhibited “normal” levels of narcissism. “What are normal levels of narcissism,” I hear someone ask. Oh! It’s me!

Not mine, that’s for sure. I’m so humble I make Uriah Heep sound like Conor McGregor as he sings “Oh Lord it’s so hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way”.

Not that Uriah Heep, not the rock band. I mean the Dickens’ character. The one who goes “I am far too umble. There are people enough to tread upon me in my lowly state.” Him. That’s me!

The Queen’s study found that “the confidence and sense of accomplishment that people exhibiting grandiose narcissism gained seemed to offset any negative feelings of stress and depression that those traits might otherwise cause”.

Such narcissism appeared “to correlate positively with healthy self-esteem and extroversion”. Again, what’s not to like? Okay, maybe the narcissist himself but, Santy, I could live with that, if I have all those other advantages.

Try me. It’s all I want for Christmas.

Patsy.

Narcissism, from Greek “Narkissos”, name of a youth in myth who fell in love with his reflection and turned into the flower Narcissus.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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