Narcissism In Modern Society

Ovid's Narcissus fable, which dates back more than 2,000 years, is where the word "narcissism" first appeared. He narrated the tale of a handsome Greek hunter who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water after spotting it by chance one day. He became enamoured with its beauty and was unable to emerge from his reflection till he passed away. Thereafter, psychotherapist Sigmund Freud popularised the idea of narcissism via his research on the ego and its interaction with the outer world. The concept has long been a source of study, intrigue, fascination and literature both within and beyond the psychoanalytic community.

Narcissism refers to an inflated view of the self, coupled with relative indifference to others. It is a self-centred personality trait that is defined by an excessive focus on one's physical appearance or image as well as an excessive obsession with one's own wants, frequently at the expense of others. People with high levels of this trait frequently think they are above the law and so break it. They also readily trample on others in their efforts to reach the ‘top’, where they believe they belong, and they fail to help others unless there is an immediate benefit or recognition to themselves for doing so. The world's failure to acknowledge their superiority frequently causes them to be dissatisfied and furious. In general, they are unable to build the types of long-lasting, meaningful relationships with other people that we all require in order to live happy, emotionally secure lives.

Social scientists are now claiming that narcissism is a modern "epidemic," and they are blaming the quick social transformation that took place throughout the industrial and post-industrial periods. Over the last few decades, society has shifted from emphasising on communal to emphasising on individual or the self. Because humans are social creatures, the society we live in is inevitable to change. We are transitioning from a collectivistic to an individualistic culture, with its emphasis on the person and their inner sentiments. The modernization of society, which was followed by a rise in individualism and a reduction in social standards, also meant that the community and the family were no longer able to assist individuals in the same way that they had in the past. It became increasingly difficult to satisfy the fundamental desire for meaningful connection as the social fabric weakened. An "empty ego, stripped of social significance" was the result of all of this paired with the deterioration of social bonds.

The feel-good culture and narcissism, which might be referred to as the "self-esteem movement," are other areas of concern. In order to succeed in life, the self-esteem movement has been deemed essential. It's not accurate, though. Unusual high self-esteem has been found to be associated with more bullying, violence, hostility, boasting, being opinionated, and interrupting others, rather than giving them an advantage in social skills or interpersonal interactions. The narcissism it fosters, which is even more harmful than having extremely high self-esteem, is the greatest negative effect of the self-esteem movement. Contrary to popular belief, excessive self-esteem can have negative consequences, including narcissistic behaviour.

Individualism is the dominant lifestyle philosophy in today's culture. People are beginning to put their own interests ahead of those of others. Self-love referred to as regard for one's own pleasure and well-being, which is very subjective in nature, is rapidly increasing in popularity. But can self-love be mistaken for narcissism in this situation? Although a narcissist may seem to have an abundance of self-love, the truth is that this self-love is not grounded in reality. From healthy to malignant, narcissism can exist. Narcissism in moderation is a typical aspect of human nature. It can stand for healthy self-love and confidence that is grounded on actual accomplishment, the capacity to bounce back from setbacks, and the ability to rely on supportive social networks. Nevertheless, we are not getting any happier as a result of the ever-rising levels of avarice, self-obsession, shallow relationships, arrogance, and vanity that are evident everywhere. Common mental health issues are also on the rise, particularly among young people. The growth of our narcissistic culture is influenced by a number of interrelated themes, including seemingly permanent changes to family life, technology advancement, particularly social media, views about death and dying, and celebrity worship. However, narcissism becomes a problem when the person becomes overly self-absorbed, craves excessive praise and acceptance from others, and exhibits contempt for other people's sensibilities.


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Thomaes, S., & Brummelman, E. (2016). Narcissism. Developmental Psychopathology, 1–47.

MacDonald, P. (2014). Narcissism in the modern world. Psychodynamic Practice, 20(2), 144–153.


This Blog on 'NARCISSISM IN MODERN SOCIETY' has been contributed by Diksha Jain.

Diksha Jain is a proactive and self-motivated individual with a very keen interest in the field of psychology. Owing to the importance of mental health in today's times has helped her gain a vision of helping people thrive in their lives in its truest sense. Along with gaining more practical exposure to what this spectrum field of psychology has to offer. She is part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP). GIRP is an IJNGP initiative to encourage young adults across our globe to showcase their research skills in psychology and to present it in creative content expression.