Narcissistic Personality Disorder- is there a difference between narcissism and self love? Come, let’s have a dig at it.
Most of us are guilty of using the term ‘narcissism’ for someone who isn’t afraid of appreciating themselves, which when rightly labeled would be self-love. However, what is the difference between self-love and narcissism, since many seem to use the two terms interchangeably. Let’s have a look.
Self-love refers to attitudes, behaviours, thought processes and emotions which focus on appreciating oneself, which help an individual in mental, emotional, physiological and overall growth and development.
Self-love simply means accepting yourself as you are, caring and showing affection to yourself, and loving yourself regardless of anything else.
Self-love involves a number of concepts, such as having self-awareness, knowing your self-worth and self-esteem, and practicing self-care. For someone it might look like going to dance classes to move around and feel happy, and for someone else it may look like going to therapy regularly to cope up with daily stress. Everyone’s definition and practice of self-love is different, and that’s how it is supposed to be, since all of us are unique and extremely different from others.
Narcissism refers to taking extreme interest in oneself to the extent that the person starts feeling superior to others, and feels they should be treated in a special and privileged manner. This obsession about oneself could be regarding one’s physical appearance, mental capabilities, some talent the individual possesses, or any other quality that interests the person.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines a narcissistic personality as a pattern of traits and behaviors characterized by excessive self-concern and overvaluation of the self. It can also be understood as excessive self-love or egocentrism, which means that everything about a narcissistic person starts and ends with them, irrespective of what the social context in which they are in is.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a cluster B personality disorder. Cluster B in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) includes personality disorders which are self-destructive, lack of emotional control, maladaptive and impulsive. In NPD, the individual has an excessive admiration of oneself, and needs this excessive admiration and attention from other people. Individuals suffering from this disorder also have a lack of empathy for others, and hence are not able to comprehend and understand others’ emotions.
A hallmark feature of NPD is that people suffering from it have a belief of self-entitlement and superiority. They strongly believe that they are superior to others in some or the other sense, feel they should be treated in a privileged way due to their excessive self-entitlement. Such individuals are also prone to taking advantage of others and manipulating them for their personal benefit.
Diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
NPD is diagnosed only by a licensed and professional psychiatrist or psychologist. Usually, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is used for the diagnosis of mental health disorders.
The DSM-5 diagnosis criteria defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria:-
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- A belief 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
- A need for excessive admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally exploitative behavior
- A lack of empathy
- Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
- A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
As can be understood now, self-love and narcissism have a huge difference between them. Whereas self-love involves positive thoughts, emotions and behaviours orientated towards appreciating yourself, narcissism involves the excess of self-interest and self-love to the extent of degrading the self-worth of others and feeling superior to others. The quality of narcissism can also develop into Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a serious mood disorder, adversely affecting the lives of the individual and those around them, hampering their relationships and hurting other people’s feelings.
Ambardar, S. (2021, July 19). Narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1519417-overview#a1
American Psychiatric Association . (2018). What are personality disorders? Psychiatry.org – What are Personality Disorders? Retrieved from https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders/what-are-personality-disorders