Narcissism is a psychological disorder named for Narcissus, a man in Greek mythology who saw his reflection in a pool of water and fell in love with it.
Individuals afflicted by this disorder tend to have an overly inflated sense of self worth, a need to always be the center of attention, a disregard for the feelings of others and a belief that they can do no wrong. In a of this disorder provided by the Cleveland Clinic Organization, persons having narcissistic personality disorder have an inability to recognize or identify with the feelings, needs and viewpoints of others and they expect that others will automatically go along with what they want.
According to the Narcissistic Personality Disorder Association, personalities are amongst the hardest for psychiatrists to treat because their disorder stems from an unshakeable belief that they can do no wrong. Chartered psychologist, Dr. Stan Wilson provides a very comprehensive list of the characteristics of a narcissist. These two articles published by Today and by the Clinic staff will each give you a better understanding of the nature of this personality disorder and perhaps even how to recognize individuals who are afflicted with it.
There are no inherent physical dangers associated with narcissism by definition. In fact, often people laugh at the exaggerated representations of grandiosity and over inflated ego demonstrated by the narcissist. However, narcissism can be manifested in varying degrees of extremity.
On the one extreme, Michael Maccoby, Anthropologist and Psychoanalyst said that “the big innovators, the people who create new technological empires, art forms and political movements, almost all have the personality type that Freud called narcissistic”. It's these narcissistic visionaries, who we most probably hate to work for, at the helm of major corporate or government progress outside the box.
At the other end of the spectrum extreme, where potential danger lies, the narcissist can be sadistically abusive in belittling or degrading others to satisfy their need to feel superior, or at their worst, even psychopathic.
Blackwell, a 19 year old from the UK, killed his parents before using their credits cards to fund a shopping spree and pleasure jaunt with his girlfriend. He was diagnosed as having narcissistic personality disorder. Charles Manson was also diagnosed as a narcissistic personality.
The narcissist can commit such heinous crimes with no remorse because of their inability to relate to the feelings of others, their deep belief that they can do no wrong and their sense of personal entitlement.
Personality disorders expert and consultant forensic psychologist Daynes said “Many psychopaths have narcissistic traits, and you most often see NPD when treating psychopaths. That is not to say that everyone with NPD is a psychopath, or that every psychopath is narcissistic – but they go together in a lot of cases.”