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Social Trend: Narcissistic Compassion

Updated on October 31, 2016

How do I look (SELFIE below) ? I took 7 pics to get this selfie. This is my best angle I think. I should really get a better camera. Better lighting perhaps? Maybe I need a selfie stick. Instagram has excellent filters. This one makes me look tan.



Didn't notice you there.

This isn't a post on improving your selfie. You can find those anywhere...and everywhere. Honestly, I'm a bit uncomfortable with a big ol' pic of myself plastered here. But I'm trying to portray narcissism.

Actually, I want to discuss YOU. That's an interesting topic, right?!

According to everyone we are all narcissists. Interested in ourselves. From Generation Me to the selfie phenomenon and your narcissistic ex, the term gets thrown around like a well-worn hand-me-down in the Brady Bunch family.

Sociologists are claiming that in fact we have become uber self-centered as a society yet concerned about being compassionate and tolerant. (I'll get to how these two traits meld together later).


Diagnosis: Marsha. Marsha. Marsha.
Speaking of Brady Bunch (I know this dates me), but remember the oldest girl, Marsha? Let me refresh your memory. It was all about her! Or so she thought. Everyone had to make her happy or there was hell to pay. The term, "Marsha Marsha Marsha" was born. Today, we'd call her a narcissist.

In a recent Psychology Today article, The Real Narcissists, psychologist Craig Malkin, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School states:

"Narcissism is a trait each of us exhibits to a greater or lesser degree. It's become necessary to add the qualifier "healthy" to specify the socially acceptable type of narcissism. It is the capacity to see ourselves and others through rose-colored glasses. That can be beneficial, because it's helpful for all of us to feel a bit special. It fuels the confidence that allows us to take risks, like seeking a promotion or asking out an attractive stranger. But feeling too special can cause problems."

Furthermore... "Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an extreme manifestation of the trait." This includes attention-seeking, manipulating others, problems establishing and keeping intimate relationships, and lack of a stable sense of self and identity.

The Good-deed Narcissist:
Good deeds get attention.
While we may think of narcissism as the Marsha-type, other narcissists fly under the radar. For example, narcissism can actually translate into someone devoting their lives to helping others, getting attention for good deeds...and making sure they get attention for it. No good deed goes untold. Did you get video? Announce it in your recent status update?

'I'm offended' Narcissist:
There are seemingly sensitive types of narcissists too. They are hyper aware of their own feelings, take everything out of context or only as it relates to themselves. The more sensitive, the easier to offend. Sound familiar? Yep. We live in a chronically offended society.

Narcissism and Identity:
Narcissists tend to live in their own world, which his fine if they left the rest of us alone. But they don't. They involve others. They create a world around them where everyone plays a part to boost the narcissists' self-identity.

Narcissists struggle with their identity even though we think of them as ego-maniacs who have a firm claim on who they are. They desperately need others who confirm their identity. If it wasn't for this, narcissists literally wouldn't need anyone else.

They often defy, avoid, or doubt anyone who questions them or doesn't represent how they see themselves. They fall into bouts of depression when their identity isn't boosted by others. The smallest comment can trigger a downward spiral. Therefore, they carefully pick people. They become disturbed when in the presence of others who don't represent the reflection of their best self.

Youth generally struggle with identity. This is why we see teens and young adults naturally more selfish than the general population. They are discovering their identity. It is fragile. The problem today is society encourages this behavior to continue throughout adulthood. The fragile identity.

Since identity is formed through experiences, people believe their experiences are truly is who they are. They look for ways to confirm this identity in society. And society is literally obliging everyone their experiences, or rather "identity". However, we're finding a society of people with fragile identities in addition to expectations of others boosting their identity, leads to very strong differing opinions, powerful clashes, and a war of egos.

What we have now is a social movement toward narcissism and an identity problem of large scale. Instead of becoming okay with our identity as we work our way into adulthood, we believe others must confirm this identity. That is to say my experiences are more important than yours. My identity must be accepted and confirmed by everyone. This is unrealistic of course.

Are you a narcissist?
A close friend of mine says every time he reads something about narcissism, he identifies as one. Not to worry. An actual narcissist wouldn't identify themselves with any of these traits. They are more likely to say, "That's not me!" They rarely walk themselves into therapy or believe they need help even when they suffer.

Narcissists take things very personally. Any critique is a huge dent in their self-esteem rather than an opportunity to learn.

Ups and downs are more personal. Prone to highs and lows because life events reflect upon them personally.

Nobody gets in their way. They will never put others ahead of themselves and anything goes if they want something bad enough.

Forming intimate relationships is difficult because they look for the perfect partner that reflects their grandiose sense of self. No one is good enough for them.

Very charming at first. Then later they use manipulation to keep you around.

A poor self-esteem- constantly seeking ways to enhance it. Seeking others who promote it.

Presenting as perfect. I don't buy perfect- it's not my brand of honesty. This is excessive though in our culture.

Narcissists don't need anyone. Kind of like the independent woman we see marching around now. We all need others. And guess what? It feels good to be needed. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't need you?

Navigating life:
So let's say you find yourself in one of these points. You're not necessarily a hopeless narcissist. You are a product of society to a certain extent and it's not easy to escape this in today's society. If you identify with a point here then it's a good indication, it's simply something to be aware of and work on.

A New Kind of Compassion:
Compassion and me me me don't tend to go together. In light of this, a new compassion has emerged. And it's not something you're going to like.

Short-lived Compassion is one type that comes from a self-centered society. Initial compassion shown is sizable and significant while dissipating rapidly. Attention quickly changes to something else...or turned inward back to themselves.

People are less likely to be compassionate towards someone who does not agree with them. Compassion is therefore selective under these circumstances. This fuels an inability to see all sides clearly. Since disagreeing means oneself is under attack (narcissism), compassion will not be shown. You might wonder why all the supposed tolerance and acceptance breed such ugly disagreements nowadays.

Show-me Compassion:
It's more important to show compassion. 'Look at me, I'm being compassionate'. Everywhere you turn there are people who support every cause, justifiable and uninformed or not, they only want to be seen as compassionate. The youth, and society en masse, are taught what to be compassionate about. Typically this is one-sided information.

True Compassion is practicing good deeds without others' approval or recognition. It's being close to a situation, having experience, or an intimate connection.

Stop using words like acceptance and tolerance. They are merely buzzwords disguised to think of ourselves as compassionate.

Empathetic and sympathetic also assume we know how another feels...when we do not.
(Best advice on empathy: "I Know How You Feel". )

Acceptance leads to a notion one must be accepted into an in-group rather than form their own self-identity. To claim you are "accepting" is really a self-righteous statement. That assumes one should be lucky to join your group or obtain approval.

Compassion is an investment.


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