Study into some of the definitions of narcissism

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Some definitions are given below for a clear understanding of the term/meaning of narcissism: In the year 1898, Ellis used the term narcissism by conceptualizing it as autoeroticism, that is, sexual gratification without stimulation or evocation by another person.

In the year 1899, Nacke used the term in a similar manner, applying it to the perversions of being preoccupied with the right and pleasures of one's own body in a manner usually reserved for those of the opposite sex.

In the year 1908, Sadger supported and furthered the concept to other perversions notably to passive homosexuality.

In the year 1913, "Jones portrayed such individuals as excessively admiring of themselves, having omnipotent fantasies, being exhibitionistic, and scornful of others. Such grandiosity is at time masked by caricatured modesty, pseudohumility, and a pretended contempt for materialistic aspects of life" (Akhtar, 1994, p. 754)

In the year 1914, Freud wrote 'on narcissism' while according to him consists of feelings of omnipotence and grandiose self-conceptions, these feelings and grandiose conceptions are defenses against depression. Narcissism is involved in developing and maintaining one's ideals (i.e., ideal self and ideal other representations) and narcissism is involved in regulating self-esteem.

In the year 1933, Reich held that major features of what he termed the "phallic-narcissistic", include such characteristics as being self-assured, arrogant , impressive in bearing disdainful and displaying airs of dignity and superiority.

In the year 1968 Kohut used the term narcissism to describe a separate line of personality development independent of and prior to psychosexual and ego development.

In the year 1975 Marin wrote that all replaced by the self and narcissism is perceived as a kind of liberation and our turning away our responsibilities as enlightenment.

In the year 1979, Raskin and Hall developed a narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) with the assumption that narcissism like all other normal personality traits is a normal personality trait. To them, the concept of narcissism is defined by the following characteristics: grandiose sense of one's self importance; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love exhibitionism; responds to criticism, indifference or defeat either with cool indifference or with marked feelings of rage, inferiority, shame, humiliation, emptiness; enlightenment, expecting special favours without assuming reciprocal responsibilities exploitative ness; relationships vacillate between the extremes of over-idealization and devaluation; and lack of empathy.

In the year 1980, Kernberg used narcissism to refer to pathological personality configuration.

In the year 1981, Miller used the term healthy narcissism in a developmental sense to reflect the process of successful personality integration and narcissism as a normal personality variable.

In the year 1988, Raskin and Terry defined narcissism as "self-admiration that is characterized by tendencies toward grandiose ideas, exhibitionism and defensiveness in response to criticism, interpersonal relationships that are characterized by feelings of entitlement, exploitativeness, and a lack of empathy" (p. 896)

In the year 1990, Western suggested that narcissism be strictly defined as cognitive - affective presumption with self, where cognitive preoccupation refers to a focus on the self affective preoccupation refers to a focus on the self and affective preoccupation refers to a focus on the self and affective preoccupation a refers to an over concern with one's wishes needs, goals, superiority and perfection. Western proposes that narcissistic self representations are grossly distorted and transitory largely dependent on good and on the need to defend against threats to self-esteem. These self concepts are characterized by fusion or the failure to differentiate between real and ideal selves. (Rhodewalt & Morf. 1995, page 2-3).

In the year 1994, Akhtar defined as an "emotional investment into the self. When normal, it leads to sustained self-regard and mature aspirations. When pathological, it is accompanied by excessive dependence upon acclaim from others, and deteriorated capacity for interpersonal relations" (p. 753).

The authoress views narcissism as an illusion about self-greatness.

We have, here, come across with a good many definitions of narcissism. It was Raskin and Hall (1979) and subsequently Raskin and Terry (1988) who introduced and defined the "narcissism" as a normal personality variable.

Types of Narcissistic Personalities

Narcissists like all other human beings are not alike. They are different among themselves. Millon (1969) has reported two types of narcissistic personalities:

Passive independent and

active independent :: copper (1989), Gabbard (1986) and Wink (1991) all have seconded each other regarding their two types of narcissistic personalities:

Self-aggrandizing, and ii self effacing; Bursten (1973) has recorded four narcissistic styles:

Craving, (ii) paranoid (iii) manipulative and (iv) phallic styles and Diamond (1994) has also recorded four narcissistic styles:

Unprincipled narcissist, ii) amorous narcissist, (iii) compensatory narcissistic and (iv) elitist narcissists.

We take them up one by one.

Million Types

In the year 1969, Millon has divided the narcissistic personalities into two sub types:

passive independent or narcissistic personalities, who are confident of their self-worth and who feel they need to be merely themselves to justify being content and secure;

Active independent or antisocial personalities, who struggle to 'prove' themselves, who insists on their rights and will be harsh and ruthless when necessary to retaliate or gain power over others. For the narcissistic type, self-esteem is based on a blind and naïve assumption of personal worth and superiority. For the antisocial type, it seems from distrust an assumption of personal worth and superiority. For the antisocial type, it seems that other s will be humiliating and exploitive. To these personalities, whose independence from others takes on an active and angry character, self determination is a protective maneuver' it is a means of countering with their own power and prestige the hostility, deception and victimization they anticipate from others. Although both passive narcissist and active independents (antisocial) devalue the standards and opinion of others, finding gratification primarily within them, their life histories and the strategies they employ for achieving their needs are substantially different.

The subsequent psychoanalytic investigations both clinical and empirical of cooper (1989), Gabbad (1986) and wink (1991) have confirmed the spectrum of narcissism and its disorders, ranging from the self- aggrandizing overt type to the self effacing covert type.

Bursten Four personality variants

Bursten (1973-1982) presented grouping, speaking of them as the craving paranoid manipulative, and phallic types. He refers to the craving whining. Those labeled paranoid narcissistic correspond with general descriptions of the paranoid personality. Manipulative narcissists encompass a large segment of what are referred to as antisocial personalities in the DSM. The fourth subtype phallic narcissist describes patients who are exhibitionistic, reckless, cold and arrogant. In seeking to contrast borderline from narcissistic personalities, Bursten makes references to the distinction as bearing on the cohesiveness of self. Elaborating this distinction, he speaks of the narcissistic personality as comprising (1982).

… a group of people whose sense of self is sufficiently cohesive that they do not suffer from these types of fragility problems. The striking feature of this cluster of personality types centers around self-esteem. They maintain an intense interest in themselves and harbor both grandiose fantasies, albeit not to a delusional extent and the need to associate with powerful figures. When one frustrates their vanity or their need for an ideal parent, they become dysfunctional they suffer sever disappointment depression, rage, and hypochondrias. They may even have feeling episodes of confusion but such mental disintegration is very brief and does not have the prominence and the persistence of people whose personalities fall in the borderline cluster. Elsewhere, I have authorized that the cohesiveness of their sense of self is maintained by the intensity of their narcissistic focus on themselves (p 414)

By the persistence and social intrusiveness of their behaviors, narcissistic elitists may begin to alienate themselves from others, and the admiration they seek. Insulating themselves from signs of painful indifference and psychic injury, they may try to distance or screen out negativistic and judgmental responses. Some may become overtly hostile, acquiring characteristics of the querulous paranoid, quickly losing the remaining elements of their former charm and cleverness, becoming increasingly contemptuous of those whom they feel is treating them so shabbily. Still believing themselves to be special persons, these elitists see little need to listen or follow the dictates of anyone else. They may begin to react with outright anger and irritability, convinced that they need no one. As these self-protective beliefs and actions gain in their defensive and negative tone, the elitist narcissist comes to be seen as an undesirable and embarrassing person, a touchy and inflated character whom others wish to shun.

A historical development of measures of narcissism

We begin historical development of measures of narcissism, i.e. the pathological narcissi, Grayden (1958) was perhaps the first researcher to have attempted to measure pathological narcissism to that end, and he constructed Q-sort techniques for use with TAT to measure narcissism. He made the use of TAT but did not yet a difference between the hypochondriac and no hypochondriac samples with reference to narcissism. Young (1959) got significant differences among rehirophernics, neurotics and normal with the frame of reference that narcissism increases with the degree of psychopathology. Wolman (1967) based a peace of narcissism - egocentrism on psychoanalytic theory. Rothburd (1970) on psychoanalytic theory. Rothburd (1970 developed a scale of cynosural narcissism developed a scale of cynosural narcissism scoptic curiosity (i.e., exhibition ism withstood the validity demands. Urist (1977) developed a valid Research scale for the measurement of pathological narcissism. In the year 1979, Ashlay, Le and Duke used MMPI items that were taken to measure narcissistic personality disorder. All these attempts were towards developing a measure of pathological narcissism.

We know begin the second chapter entitled the empirical efforts to measure narcissism. Watson constructed a sentence - completion task to measure narcissistic fantasists. Douval and Edelson (1966) developed five open ended question to measure narcissism. Exner (1969) developed a Rocschach scoring category as an index of narcissism. Serkowrk (1975) developed a factor analytically derived scale for hypersensitivity, narcissism from items of MMPI masculinity- feminists scale. Goldman (1977) developed a scale to assess narcissistic psychopathology. Harder (1979) developed scoring indices for the Rorschach, TAT and the early memories test to assess the ambitions - narcissistic character style. In the same year 1979, Raskin & Hall developed a narcissism personality inventory.

Thomas (1981) constructed a scale to measure narcissistic personality characteristic described in DS M-111 Carrillo (1981) developed a scale to measure an individual's level of borderline narcissism. Patton, Connor and Scoot (1`982) based their rating scales of narcissism on Kohut's (1971) theory of narcissism. In the year 1988 Raskin & Terry further revised and refined their narcissistic personality inventory for confident use in non-clinical samples.

DSM and Narcissism

It is important to remember that even individuals who are classified as having a personality disorder may behave appropriately as a normal man some of the time. Each personality disorder is distinguished by the frequency and intensity with which certain characteristic behavior appear. For example, narcissistic personality disorder does not always show disordered behavior, he is much likely to show almost normal behavior and attitude and that is why perhaps, people around him do not always contact mental health professional for his welfare.

A person's characteristic ways of responding people around him are often described as his personality and he is known by his personality. Personality style can be maladaptive if an individual is unable to modify his behavior and attitude when the environment undergoes significant changes that calls for a different approach. If personality characteristics are not flexible enough to all men and women present around him, there is something wrong with him. As such, he may comfortably be prescribed as a man with problem(s).

Clinians collect and interred the assessment formation with a view to make diagnosis i.e. to determine the factors that constitute a particular disorder. As well to know the problem course of the problem and what treatments are likely to be helpful is classification patients, accordingly to their typical symptoms.

Emil Kraepelin (1883) developed the first worth mentioning classification system for abnormal people which has become the base of international classification of diseases (ICD). Later on damnation of diseases (ICD). Later on diagnostic (DSM) owe to Kracepelin. The DSMMEI was first published in 195 DSM (ii) was published in the year 1968. it is important to note that narcissism disorder was not included in dSM-1. It was not in DSM ii also. It was included in DSM 111 DSM iii and DSM (M-11) in 1980. And 1987 respectively. DSM (IV) appeared in the year 1994.

DSM IV MPA 1994 reports then personality disorders and groups them in three clusters (American psychoactive Association 1994). The first cluster, characterized by old behavior consists of the paranoid, schizoid and schiztyped personality disorders. The second cluster characterized by dramic behaviour cosists of the nutrsocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorder behavior, consists of the avoidant, dependent an obsessive compulsion personality disorders (see table)

DSM-IV cluster

Similar Disorder on Axis I

Responsiveness to Treatment



Schizophrenia delusional disorder




Schizophrenia delusional disorder




Schizophrenia delusional disorder




Conduct disorder




Mood disorder




Somatoform disorders Mood disorders




Cyclothymic disorder (mild bipolar disorder)




Social phobia




Separation anziety disorder Dysthymic disorder (mild depressive disorder)


Obsessive compulsive


Obsessive compulsive anziety disorder


Vidiger & Trull (1993) have made a comparative study of narcissism, histrionic and antisocial personality disorders. They state that narcissism is more dispassioionately exploitative and seeks admiration. The histrionic tends to be more emotional and dramatic than narcissism. Both narcisstic and histornic may be promiscuous. Narcisstic is exploitative whereas histrionic is exhibitionistic narcisstic is admiration seeker and histrionic is attention seeker. Widiger & Trull (1993) hold that the most basic difference is that narcisstic is more explitatie for the purpose of demonstrating domination prestige and superiority rather than for the personal and material gain of the antisocial personality (p 388). The important point is that individuals with antisocial personality disorders tend to be impulsive disregard for the rights of others through deceitful aggressive behaviors. Are generally seductive as compared to narcisstic and antisocial personality disorders. According to Weissman (1993) histrionic personality disorders are more often females. They know beauty solves all life problems. Beauty is necessary for a centaury life.

In addition they may have learned that parental approval was contingent on some sour t of performance such as 'looking pretty or performing well is an artistc endeavor. They are often theatrical as well as sexually provocative seductive and is public in flamaboyant / scanty clothing, compared to their two counterparts. Personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

The symptoms of one disorder often overlap with those of another thus making it difficult to disintiguish them (Zimmerman, 1994) diagnosis becomes difficult and in many cases one personality disorder seems to fit in more than one cluster (Dolan, etal, 1995)