Jeffrey Kluger describes some of the key traits of narcissistic personality disorder, pointing out that some of our greatest leaders have narcissistic tendencies. Kluger, a senior writer at TIME, is the author of The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed—in Your World (http://goo.gl/zaj4YW)
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Transcript: Narcissism is one of the personality disorders. There are ten personality disorders such as histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and rigidity and so forth. Narcissism falls into that category and is measured by sort of the presence of the three classic behavioral traits. One is grandiosity, the next is entitlement and the next is a lack of empathy. And all three of these things sort of intuitively describe the narcissist. Grandiosity is a deeply felt belief that you are better than other people, that you're more skilled than other people, more gifted than other people, and also that other people are uneducable as somebody I know who was a narcissist once said uncoachable, the belief that you have so much to teach and other people simply can't learn it.
Entitlement is also self-explanatory. It's the belief that raises, that rewards, that applause, that attention, that love, that romance, that anything it is you want and need you are entitled to receive. Babies have that level of entitlement. It's the reason that babies aren't just frustrated or disappointed when they're denied the cookie or the extra ice cream there want, they're actually outraged by it because they can't believe in their wee baby brains that they're actually being denied something they want. It's the difference between want and need and narcissists don't get it. And the critical, perhaps most destructive of the three elements is lack of empathy. Because for all of us, for nearly anybody, empathy is a break on our behavior; it's a speed bump on our behavior. You see the way you're behaving, you look at other people, you can read it in their eyes and their body language and their voice. You get it intuitively that other people are being hurt by your behavior and you empathize with that and therefore don't do it. Narcissists are sort of anesthetized on that front and as a result they don't have that deterrence to their behavior.
Narcissism, like a lot of a personality disorders, exists on something of a continuum. And in my book I call it lowercase n narcissism all the way up to capital N narcissism. Capital N narcissism is the truly clinical kind; the kind that does go by the acronym NPD for narcissistic personality disorder. And it's for a condition that seems ubiquitous, it actually afflicts in it's clinical sense a small share of the population, perhaps one to three percent of the population has narcissistic personality disorder, which is pretty consistent with the other personality disorders and fairly consistent with anxiety disorders like OCD and phobias as well. The problem is you move down that continuum. And the closer you come to clinical narcissistic personality disorder as you move down the continuum the more destructive your behavior is, even if you're functional. Even if you're moving through society and have a family and have a circle of friends and have a job, you're still the kind of person who's going to get into a lot of scrapes, a lot of dust ups, a lot of confrontent with the people around you because you just don't get that you're not entitled to so much. You just don't get that you're not as good or as great as you think you are.
When you move further down the narcissistic scale you get to the point that narcissism can actually be a very good thing; it can be very bracing; it can be a source or at least a way of expressing creativity. As I say in the book, and I think has given offense to some people but it's not intended to, it's that even our greatest and most humble people, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, had to have had narcissistic components to their personality. They gravitated toward attention, they gravitated toward crowds. If we believe that they didn't get a charge out of standing before a crowd of half a million people, or in the case of Gandhi millions...[TRANSCRIPT TRUNCATED]
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton
Tagged under: Jeffrey Kluger,Narcissism (Symptom),Narcissist,Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Disease Or Medical Condition),Selfishness,CEO,President,United States Of America (Country),Business Leaders,Achievement,Ego,Vanity,Empathy,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU,Success
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