Narcissism Throughout History – Is It Really A Psychiatric Disorder?

Someone linked an article in the NYT in the forum – Narcissism No Longer a Psychiatric Disorder.

“Narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and the need for constant attention, has been eliminated from the upcoming manual of mental disorders, which psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness…”

Unrelated, outside the fact I am relating them I’ve been reading, “Disorders of Narcissism: Diagnostic, Clinical, and Empirical Implications”, by Elsa Ronningstam, PhD. It’s an interesting book, at least it’s started out that way. This bit about cultures, struck me. Astrologically, this passage would relate to Jupiter.

Dr. Ronningstam writes:

“With respect to self-regard, one can discern a cultural component.ย  Just where modesty ends and superciliousness begins will not always be defined in the same way by different cultures. In Greco-Roman antiquity, for example, it was permissible and ordinary to speak with candor about one’s accomplishments, even about one’s greatness. This quality has been called by classical scholars “ancient high-mindedness.”

I offer myself as an example as I am a boasting, Italian from a family of them and I do find it normal and ordinary… to laugh at my own jokes.

She continues:

“But in the Judeo-Christian culture, which soon came to dominate thought and social patterns in the West, we tend to wince a bit at so bold an assertion of one’s worth, even if it happens to be unassailably true.”

Check the Jupiter words. High-minded.ย  True. Now here comes the belief side and the teaching side…

Dr. Ronningstam writes:

“In cultures in which Buddhism exerts a significant impact, modesty carries an even higher social mortgage than in the West; children are carefully taught to be the very opposite of narcissistic in the pathological sense…”

Pretty interesting, eh? What do you think?
Do you not expect Italians to gloat? I do.
Do you not love Muhammad Ali for being THE GREATEST? I do.

19 thoughts on “Narcissism Throughout History – Is It Really A Psychiatric Disorder?”

  1. super interesting! love muhammad ali, he certainly WAS the greatest!

    one of my favorite family (scottish) stories is of my grandmother being harangued by her next door neighbour, goading her into a fight. grandma resisted but couldn’t take the ensuing mockery so she came out and punched her neighbour straight in the face.

    ‘what do you expect, don’t pick a fight with me, or you’ll be beat.’

    it’s not the violence i find funny, it’s the fact that people in my family make peace and can take a lot of heat until–BOOM!

  2. haha, I love people that boast and have something to back it up… or people who boast and are entertaining while they do it ๐Ÿ™‚

    I do not, however, like people who inflate their qualities in their own head and expect that to be enough to achieve greatness. Also, naming it a personality DISORDER means that these self-important beliefs are causing dysfunction in someone’s life. I don’t believe you can just *poof* eliminate that from the DSM.

  3. It is a hard topic Elsa, The Narcisism as a whole trastorn of personality could be supressed because it doesnt acomplish the standard for a operative diagnostic. However it is well known the role that narcisism play in the most hard and untreatable trastorn of personalities, mainly in the psychopatic manifestations. The narcisism as a trait of personality as a primal impulse is a neccessary component of the personality. However the person evolves including the “other” in his or her scopes. do you Remember the song islands in the stream? (you published it here) Such a pleasure the song raised in you. WIth narcissism we born as a island then we discover other islands in the stream… thta is the good thing. Some people never discover other islands around them- then it could be characterized as a trastorn a severe trastorn, the person is so blind to empathy as a blind person to coulors. Tht persons could be hard to relate…. other could be a real problem.
    Just to say I admire a lot to ALI he was for me a David facing to Goliat- Foreman, and I loved all his bravado. Not I dont think he has a narcissistic dissorder….

  4. I have Leo on the MC sextile Pluto and I do not seem to be able to stand Leo types.
    I think its because my step dad was a Leo who my mom allowed to treat her like a chump. I do not like any kind of bragging.
    This Leo thing is how I know our president and his family are being intimidated into acting like a p#ssy. there is just no way he could be that weak with sun in Leo.
    That said, I do have a showy look at me side. It comes out in how I dress and wear my hair.
    The only Leo anything I ever let get close to me (sun in leo) told me we could never be in a relationship because we both like being pampered and guess having our mane stroked equally. Why Oh why did I not bolt on that day….
    Pluto sun arghhh!!!

  5. Avatar
    curious wanderer

    Oh, look, I have my DSM-IV-TR right here! (I really do, it’s usually at work, but I have a paper to do.)

    Clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder requires five or more of the following:
    – has a grandiose sense of self-importance
    – is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
    – believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people
    – requires excessive admiration
    – has a sense of entitlement
    – is interpersonally exploitative
    – lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    – is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
    – shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    Now this is above and beyond your typical Leo type. This is someone who believes to their bones that they are better than everyone else, and acts accordingly.

    Though I can see why there are taking Narcissistic Personality Disorder out of the DSM-V. Most of the diagnoses require the criterion that the disorder impairs the person in some way. Most narcissists don’t think they’re impaired (by their narcissism anyway), and they’re the very last people you’ll see in treatment. Why waste time and resources on someone who thinks they’re nothing wrong with them?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. lol curious wanderer – I have to add that people with personality disorders don’t think there is anything wrong with them, by definition. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. curious wanderer: I once knew someone who had many of the qualities you list from the DSM. She would brag about how wonderful she thought she was (or bright, or discreet, or…) constantly, had to be the center of attention at all times and did her damnedest to devalue people who didn’t subscribe to her own view of herself.

    She had Sun and Moon in Aquarius, both in the 5th house. And what little she knew about astrology came from Linda Goodman’s book “Love Signs”, but she loved to present herself as an expert on that too. I couldn’t be in the same room with her without the hair on the back of my neck standing up.

  8. Curious, the Leo I refer was exactly as you describe. Funny I used to always say he was a sociopath. Little did I know it was just his Leo ๐Ÿ™‚
    Never again!!! A leo moon tried to date me recently. He said one thing that reminded me of thing this person would say and i stopped taking his calls. Wounds are too fresh…lool

  9. “Why waste time and resources on someone who thinks theyโ€™re nothing wrong with them?!”

    I’ve heard that argument before, but…

    What about the families that could benefit from a diagnosis such as this? Emotional abuse at the hands of a Narcissist is hard to validate when everyone around you thinks that they’re perfect. I know that it would be very, very hard to get them to go to any sort of therapy in the first place, but if they did happen to get there for whatever reason, I think that being able to diagnose them as such could mean some healing in and of itself for the people in their lives. As well as an avenue to freedom! (possibly)

  10. What is ironic is that Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic PD and others are being eliminated, but INTROVERSION is being ADDED. say what?

    Oh, and they’re adding the Myers-Briggs criteria of “INTROVERSION” in as a mental disorder. Imagine that? they already have schizoid and avoidant personality.

    Yes, 50% of our population…those who choose reading, writing, poetry, research as their activities vs. I dunno football games, becoming a sales rep–their Handle of “introversion” is now going to be used as a classification for a mental disorder.

    uh, what about Extroversion then? and what’s next? are Intuitives next?

  11. I think that things like this tend to manifest on a continuum. The behavior can get pathological out on the far ends. I do think there is such a thing as pathological narcissism and while it may not be a disorder unto itself, the extremes of narcissism can be very destructive.

  12. Well, having been married to a narcissist, I can tell you that the whole overblown ego thing did not come from a place of truly believing himself “the greatest”, but instead came from a very dark, insecure place which required a whole lot of denial of said insecurities.

  13. True NPD stems from a deep seated belief of not being good enough or worthy in any way. They absolutely hate to be alone for too long because then this feeling of being worthless becomes overhwelming to them. They get their false sense of self by bragging to others and using others as their narcissistic supply and looking for others to envy them. They are unbelievably manipulative, albeit charming when they first want to suck you in. There are lots of NPDs walking around….they are actually a form of psychic vampire, according to Judith Orloff PhD. She has a good youtube video of narcissistic types. Neptune seems to be a predominating astrological signature with these people, as does Libra, for some reason.

  14. I have to agree with barb here. I don’t mind if people are excited about an accomplishment and rightfully proud of themselves. I do mind when people boast just to look better than others, whether they are or not.

    With Mohammad Ali it was all show. He was a very kind and humble person in private I have heard.

    There may be a fine line between boasting and NPD, meaning up to a point it would tip over, but not being a Psychiatrist I have no real idea.

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