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Everyone has a bit of the narcissist in himself or herself. Why else was the mirror invented? In a 1914 paper entitled ‘On Narcissism: An Introduction’, Sigmund Freud postulated that narcissism starts in infancy as part of the development of the ego and libido.

Some people outgrow this stage . Others don’t. They become obsessed with their self–image — like Narcissus of Greek mythology, who fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring, pined away, and died to be transformed into a flower that bears his name.

Whilst the story of Narcissus is beautiful in a way, too much narcississm is bad. It can impair personal and social relationships. It can produce a toxic environment to no one’s delight. And carried to the extreme, it becomes a personality disorder, which, in some cases, can lead to aggressive and violent behaviour.

How narcissistic are you?

It’s all a question of degree. The following is an informal test to determine how narcissistic an individual is. By no means is it designed to serve as medical diagnosis.


Do you…

  • frequently post selfies and talk about yourself and your career on social media?

  • desire to be the centre of attention?

  • tend to monopolise conversations?

  • always insist on your own views and fail to listen to contrary opinions?

  • hate being criticised even if the criticism is valid and constructive?

  • feel overly proud of your car and other material possessions?

  • spend a lot of time looking at yourself in the mirror?

  • have an excessive admiration for your own body (e.g., your muscles, face, boobs, etc.)?

  • believe that you are superior and should only associate with people who are on the same level as yourself?

  • feel entitled because of your social, economic or political status?

  • often seek admiration and praise from others?

  • find it hard to emphatise with people, to put yourself in their shoes?

  • look down on other people because of their looks, weight, lack of education, etc.?

  • want to control other people (e.g., your spouse, partner and subordinates) ?

  • tend to use people, not as ends in themselves, but as a means to achieve your own end?

Here’s a final thought from California-based clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD:

Narcissism is very much sort of the buzzword of our time. And it is woefully misunderstood. Narcissism is very much viewed as a disorder of sort of inflated self-esteem and grandiosity. It is those things, but in fact, it’s a disorder of self-esteem. People with narcissism are often the most insecure people in the room and they’ve established a way of showing themselves as anything but – that they often look like the most confident person in the room but there’s an emptiness there.

— from transcript of interview with Dr. Durvasula, American Psychological Association

~ Barista Uno

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