The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “vanity” as the quality of people who have too much pride in their own appearance, abilities, achievements, etc. It is often associated with conceit and narcissism.
But while we carelessly toss around narcissism as something interchangeable with vanity, it is however a different, darker beast. It is a recognized psychological disorder characterized by a distorted sense of importance; overwhelming need for admiration and lack of empathy for others.
The word “narcissism” comes from the myth of Narcissus. The story goes that Narcissus was a young man famous for his beauty. Despite enjoying the adoration of many, he rejected their affection and never loved anyone. His arrogance drew upon him the ire of the gods who cursed him into falling in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring. Narcissus died gazing endlessly at his own image that could not love him back.
An exaggerated sense of self-importance is what narcissism is all about. It’s natural to love oneself, but where do you draw the line? Here are some signs that you may be a narcissist:
Placing oneself on a pedestal – Narcissists tend to blow up their achievement to seem bigger than it really is. One considered factor for this behavior is parental upbringing. Parents of narcissists demand excellence from their child, often subjecting them to harsh criticism or excessive praise. This causes the child to compensate low self-esteem with exaggerated notions of accomplishments and talents.
Self-obsession – Selfie syndrome and people’s propensity for plastic surgery are common signs of narcissism. Self-portrait photography or “selfies” are what we always see across social media. It is impossible to not see any single selfie photo when you scroll down on Facebook or Instagram. People who have narcissistic disorder display psychological disturbance when they notice that only a few people appreciate their photos. They have a strong need for other people’s approval. This trait of low self-esteem is unhealthy. It is same with people who are dissatisfied with their appearance. Their low sense of self-worth pushes them to get addicted to plastic surgery in an attempt to rectify perceived flaws.
Narcissists lack empathy, so they are unaware of other people’s needs nor do they care. They exhibit extreme selfishness and a craving for admiration. Their sense of entitlement prompts them to use others into serving their own needs.
People who have attained instant wealth and fame have a tendency to develop acquired situational narcissism. It is said to occur as a result of success. The constant adulation gets to their head until they develop a distorted view of self-worth and start exhibiting symptoms of a narcissistic behavior.