Pathological Narcissism

Differentiating Between Functional Narcissism And Pathological Narcissism

The tool that has served to define at what point an individual can be considered to have a narcissistic problem is the “Narcissistic Personality Inventory” (NPI), developed by Robert Raskin and Calvin S. Hall in 1979. This is a questionnaire that serves to measure narcissism as a trait, assessing it in scores from 0 to 40, with normal scores being those that do not exceed the value of 20.

People with a “healthy” personality who score a bit high within limits can be perceived as exceptionally charming, especially in the first encounters, but with the passage of time, they become a bit banal. These individuals may have stressful and strange encounters with other people, but they are still fundamentally healthy personalities.

The most dysfunctional aspects of pathological narcissism are the following:

• Tendency to always use others as a tool for one’s own ends
• Absolute inability to take criticism
• The high degree of discomfort at the idea of not having the admiration and approval of others.
• Tendency to excessive competitiveness
• Extreme overvaluation of one’s own abilities and aptitudes.

It is generally assumed that narcissistic people do not realize that they are. However, the research seems to indicate that there is some awareness that they have a very self-centred view, and they don’t see it as something exactly negative. They see themselves as superior people, or what comes to the same thing; pathologically narcissistic people naturally see others below them and are intolerant towards disagreement and questioning.

Can it be positive to be a little narcissistic?

Another aspect in which it is seen that narcissism does not have to be pathological is found in the fact that, in its fair measure, it can be advantageous.

Scientific research indicates that narcissism at subclinical levels (that is, not pathological) can bring some benefits. On average, highly narcissistic individuals who do not exceed the threshold of what is considered narcissistic personality disorder appear to have a higher degree of mental toughness and perform better in high-pressure situations, in addition to enjoying higher academic performance and labour. They have a more positive view of themselves and greater assertiveness. In addition, non-pathological narcissism has also been related to a low incidence of depression.

Another beneficial aspect of non-pathological narcissists is that they tend to have an intense drive for power, attention, and assertiveness, which can be beneficial to them when it comes to finding and performing in professions where an important quality is a leadership. However, once in office, their efforts are often geared towards promotion and promotion, and they deny any opinion that disagrees with their point of view, in addition to exhibiting a significant lack of empathy towards their employees, which can degenerate into conflict in the workplace.

From an evolutionary perspective, it has been hypothesized that narcissism entails mating advantages, increasing mating success in the short term. It basically means that highly narcissistic people have a higher percentage of sexual encounters. Their features generate such a good first impression because it gives the feeling that they have a lot of self-esteem, something that is positively valued in every sexual encounter.

Of course, neither of these advantages is present in the case of pathological narcissism. These people end up adopting behaviour patterns focused on short-termism that make healthy affective relationships unfeasible and end up generating more obstacles than advantages in the professional and social context. It is the price of having a highly distorted vision of oneself that does not correspond to the abilities and aptitudes that one really has.…

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