The proof of narcissism, says a doom-saying sort of Internet wisdom, is in the number of selfies people take.
But that’s not necessarily true, say psychologists.
A narcissistic personality disorder is a psychological condition characterized by extreme self-love and self-regard—or as the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for personality disorders puts it, “[an] excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation.”
According to the authors of The Narcissism Epidemic, a study shows that narcissistic traits are on the rise among young people. “One study [the book authors] describe showed that among a group of 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as quickly as obesity from the 1980s to the present,” writes Bill Davidow for The Atlantic. So, epidemic levels, right?
Not so fast. “Narcissism runs on a continuum," says psychotherapist Jude Black to Elle. "You can just have some slight narcissistic traits.” Another psychotherapist, Katherine Schafler, also tells Elle: “The truth is, we all have narcissistic tendencies. On some level we all want to feel special, be admired, and feel important in some way.”
A true narcissist, Black continues, is too busy loving himself to worry about being a narcissist. This ties into another important factor of narcissistic personality disorder: a lack of empathy. This is why people have a hard time dealing with narcissists, because they’re so wrapped up in themselves that they become, well, jerks.
“With an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement," the narcissist craves attention and requires endless praise,” says Judith Orloff, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, to Daily Mail.
A true personality disorder means that these personality traits pop up across all situations—and not just when you want to take that quick pic of your guns after the gym.
Remember, selfies and social media aren’t turning us into narcissists, but they’re just fueling our already-existing narcissistic traits, explains Black. And that’s not always a bad thing.
If it’s helping you improve your life, feel better about yourself, and isn't impairing your relationships with others, then there’s no harm in taking and posting those selfies—and feeling good that your office crush clicked ‘Like.’
This story originally appeared on Menshealth.ph.
*Minor edits have been made by the Stylebible.ph editors.
Images via Giphy and @kimkardashian on Instagram