LEVELS of NARCISSISM (#1)


PREVIOUS: Harmful ‘innocent’ sayings #2

NPI = Narcissism Personality Inventory measures:
Authority, Entitlement, Exhibitionism, Exploitativness, Self-sufficiency, Superiority, Vanity

UNHEALTHY N: The common use of the term ‘Narcissism’ refers to an unhealthy, selfish focus on oneself, without a genuine concern for the needs & desires of others. It’s the yucky narcissism staring back at us in the mirror when our inner-brat holds the outer-adult hostage (regression / ‘kid-whipped’). This unhealthy, age-INappropriate N. retards or prevents psychological growth, & frustrates intimacy in relationships.

1. HEALTHY N, on the other hand, is based on knowing AND accepting yourself so thoroughly that you can interact with others, safely & comfortably, without– always having to be the center of everyone’s attention, being afraid of abandonment or using others to take care of your emotional needs.

In psychoanalytic terms,”normal (legitimate) narcissism is defined as a positive investment in a normally functioning self-structure….
It plays a crucial role in the human capacity to:
‣ manage challenges, successes & changes
‣ overcome defeats, illnesses, losses & trauma
‣ experience happiness, satisfaction, & acceptance of the course of one’s life
‣ love, be productive & creative (Ronningstam).
Kohut (1977) considers that healthy narcissism in adults is expressed as creativity, empathy, a sense of humor, awareness of finiteness (limitations) & wisdom.

The N Phase of CHILDHOOD 
A complete preoccupation with oneself is normal & expected in young children, beginning around age 2, the same time they start talking – using words like “I, mine” and “no.” They assume the world revolves around them, with little awareness that others are separate entities.

Mahler described this phase as a “love affair with the world.” If development proceeds as it should, the child learns, through close contact with loving parents, friends & teachers, that those people also have needs & desires. Egocentrism diminishes as the child develops concern for others.

ACoAs didn’t get the opportunity to develop healthy narcissism. Many of us were ignored or punished for being exuberant or succeeding – at anything. We learned to be afraid of shining, because others did  envy &/or punish us, so we diminished our talents or hid them, even from ourselves.

ADULTHOOD : A Cohesive Self is a psychologically positive identity.
❤︎ It’s comes from combining the child’s Grandiose Self with the Idealized Parent Image (Omnipotent or Idealized Object), which allows the Adult TO :
= feel worthy of existing, have ambition, confidence & self-esteem
= have ideals, a meaning to life, & form healthy connections with others

Relinquishing or modifying childish behaviors to improve important adult relationships we don’t want to lose – increases self-development, preventing depression & burnout.

At its best, every-day narcissism is a normal part of everyone’s Self.
We need it functioning – on our own behalf – to feel good about ourselves & other people. If we had been safe enough to experiencing normal ‘ecstatic joy in yourself’ when we were a kid, it would have provided a residual strength to get through tough times later on.
EXP: Now, if you allow yourself narcissistic pleasure from a difficult job well done, it can sustain you through times of disappointment, frustration or failure.

In a healthy adult, the Inner Child’s normal Grandiose Self is tamed by being attached to an appropriate set of ideals – gathered from healthy role models & eventually our own values. IF this happens, it allows us to experience others as separate-from-us sources of actions, thoughts & emotions. All humans must undergo this process of maturation to develop a Cohesive Self.

This unified identity develops from a complicated interaction between :
(1) inborn capabilities & inherited genetic vulnerabilities – predisposing each person toward or away from psycho-pathology (strong or weak ego structure)

(2) the environment – especially interactions in childhood with Significant Others, who either strengthen & support the emerging child’s Self, OR interfere with its optimal development

A Cohesive Self basically means that all our Ego states are in sync, with the Healthy Adult in the driver’s seat. It means that we know what we need & like, with the willingness to be our own Good Parent, & respectfully express our Truth without needing to step on other’s emotional toes.  Because of this, we can let others be who they are without it threatening our wellbeing. We know we have choices, & we make the best ones we can, based on our personality.

NEXT: N. Levels #2

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