N is for… Narcissism

The Psychologist A to Z continues.

Suggested by Sarah Henderson, Senior Lecturer at Robert Gordon University

'There’s raised interest and awareness of narcissism in the public domain, connected to (often erroneous) speculation about the mental capacity of public figures. The ethics of Duty to Warn (if a professional did have legitimate and valid concerns about a public figure) vs. the so-called Goldwater Rule, stating it’s unethical for psychiatrists to comment on the capacity of individuals they have not directly examined, is an interesting issue to discuss.’

In an interview with us in November 2014, the Rt Hon. Lord Owen outlined his ideas on ‘hubris syndrome’ in politics: the primary symptom being ‘a narcissistic propensity to see their world primarily as an arena in which to exercise power and seek glory’.

There’s such a thing as ‘collective narcissism’, characterised by outward confidence around a group compensating for deep-rooted insecurity. That’s according to a 2016 study led by Agnieskzka Golec De Zavala and covered on our Research Digest.

In his online exclusive on ‘being envied in organisations’, W. Gerrod Parrott cited research with students showing that higher levels of narcissism were strongly associated with greater enjoyment of public recognition, but also with not caring about whether fellow classmates had negative reactions to them.

Narcissists use tears to their advantage, according to Ad Vingerhoets in his March 2016 interview.

Does the reverse exist: ‘the Sussicran complex’? Mallory Wober’s letter in the October edition pondered ‘one who unduly disparages one’s self’.

Malignant narcissist leaders

- Tweet your suggestions for any letter to @psychmag using the hashtag #PsychAtoZ or email the editor on [email protected]

Entries so far are collated at https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/psychology-z

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber