Misunderstanding narcissism

Many times, people apply the term "narcissist" someone who thinks a lot of themselves. But clinically speaking, that is almost the complete opposite of what the term really means.

Narcissists are, in fact, people who think so little of themselves that all of their actions are directed towards the maintenance of that extremely fragile self-image. So, for instance, if someone tells me Donald Trump is a narcissist, I know they have no idea what they are talking about. Trump may perhaps be an egomaniac, but he is absolutely not a narcissist.


  1. Is that because he is singularly ineffective at it?

  2. Based on the clinical definition was Narcissus a Narcissist? He hid his fragile self-image quite well.

    1. Wrong: he fell in love with the reflection because he did not even recognize it as himself.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. "Clinically speaking" (per the DSM-5) the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder are most or all of the following:

    1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
    2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
    3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
    4. Needing constant admiration from others
    5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
    6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
    7. Unwilling to empathize with others' feelings, wishes, or needs
    8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
    9. Pompous and arrogant demeanor

    Trump seems -- SEEMS -- to display each and every one of those qualities in abundance. But not being a psychologist or psychiatrist, and not having interviewed him in a clinical setting, I'm not qualified to diagnose him as what he seems to be, which is a "narcissist" in the "clinical" sense.

    1. No, not 7, according to those who know him.

    2. Well, I choose Freud over a hodge-podge chucked together by committee like DSM-5.

    3. I can dig that -- not a big fan of DSM myself. But it seems to me that most people would understand that to represent "clinically speaking" more so than Freud these days, is all.

    4. Well, considering that Trump seems to meet both the popular usage of narcissist and he also seems to meet every single criterion that modern psychiatry uses to define narcissistic personality disorder, I think it makes complete sense for people to call Trump a narcissist.


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