A hallmark of narcissism is overconfidence. But there’s one thing that narcissists can legitimately be confident about: Not all that we assume about narcissism is true. Research psychologist Jean Twenge laid out these seven myths about narcissism, which she and her coauthor identify in their new book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Edited excerpts from her conversation with U.S. News:
1. Narcissism is really high self-esteem. No, it’s not. Someone can have really high self-esteem and not be narcissistic. The key difference is that people high in self-esteem focus on relationships and narcissists are missing that piece about caring about relationships. They want to know what other people can do for them, but in terms of having close emotional relationships, they don’t care.
2. Deep down, narcissists are insecure and have low self-esteem. People assume that narcissists must be concealing some deep insecurity or they actually hate themselves. But the data don’t back it up. Even if you measure self-esteem in a subtle, unconscious way, deep down inside, narcissists think they’re awesome. It’s important to understand that this is a myth because when people act like jerks and they behave narcissistically, often others will say that the solution is that they really need to boost their self-esteem. Well, that’s not going to help. That’s exactly their problem.