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Can you spot a narcissist? What do you look for? A study published in PLOS One, 2014, found that identifying a narcissist only requires one simple question. Researchers found that they could reliably identify narcissistic people by simply asking if they see themselves as a narcissist. Ironically narcissists are almost proud of this trait and don’t perceive it as a negative quality. The co-author of the study, Brad Bushman stated that narcissism is problematic for both individuals and society since narcissists are less likely to improve themselves or help others. Narcissists also have low empathy which is important for close, intimate relationships.
Many highly successful and powerful people, including many US presidents, possess a higher level of narcissism. And in fact, there are some positive aspects to this personality type. For example, narcissists can be persuasive, self-motivating, risk takers, and fearless. The term “adaptive narcissism” has been coined to describe positive aspects of narcissism. We admire a confidant, driven, persevering, and problem-solving leader who thrives in crises. The key is balancing these traits and not assuming that they will work well in all situations. While passion for our job is usually rewarded, intensity at home can be annoying. Unfortunately, most people don’t separate the persona they have at work to the one they bring home which creates conflict in a marriage.
The topic of narcissism is becoming more popular since these characteristics appear to be on the rise. Technology and social media has proven to be fertile ground for budding narcissists. People are consumed with themselves. In the September issue of Men’s Health magazine an article on narcissism includes a test to determine if you are narcissistic. I was grateful that the magazine contacted me for the article and included some of my quotes (check out my Facebook page or website). As the article states, channelling these traits in a constructive and helpful way can prove to be effective and powerful. Recognizing who we are and sharpening our beneficial characteristics while dumping the negative ones will prove to be helpful.