With the rise of social media, it is common for us to see a group of people profusely showing their love for themselves on a daily basis. But what can we call them? We commonly use terms such as egocentric or narcissistic as synonyms but, despite the fact that both are characterized by showing a high ego , they are concepts with important differences between them.
What is egocentricity?
Egocentrism is used when we want to refer to a pattern or way of thinking centered on one’s own point of view that implies an omission of other people’s perspectives. This trait is defined by ignoring what happens in the minds of others by the inability to take it into account.
It is not about despising the other person’s point of view but about the inability to perceive it because one’s own thoughts are prioritized. What from the outside is perceived as an excess of ego or self-esteem .
It is something that is appreciated well when we look at the way of being of children because it is difficult for them to put themselves in the place of the other and imagine what others know or could be thinking.
The egocentric child has pending to develop a capacity known as Theory of Mind. This consists of being able to make conjectures about the type of thinking and information that another person has and is almost fully developed around the age of 4.
At this early stage, the child assumes that everyone knows the information they have and that it is relevant to others as well. This is related to a relative inability to think abstractly.
Therefore, upon reaching adulthood, an egocentric would be one who prioritizes their experience, beliefs, thoughts and emotions due to their lack of ability to take into account the point of view of others.
What is narcissism?
From psychology, narcissism is observed as a continuum that goes from a lesser to a greater intensity. Therefore, it would not be surprising that when reading the characteristics that we are going to comment, you think of someone who more or less fits you in one of them. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be something pathological!
The keys to understanding the narcissistic personality trait are: your need to notice the admiration of others and your lack of empathy .
This lack of empathy differs from self-centeredness in that they are capable of putting themselves in the place of the other but they do not do it because they do not care.
Together, these two central characteristics lead to a feeling of greatness about their own abilities or qualities (sometimes described as megalomania ) that, in its extreme degree, can lead to a delusion of grandeur .
In short, the narcissist sees themselves as deserving of special treatment, feeling frustrated if this does not happen (the world is very unfair to them) and systematically detracting from the achievements of others that they attribute to luck.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Schematically, the most characteristic qualities of the disorder would be:
– The grandeur (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration and lack of empathy already mentioned
– Need to do things in their own way and determination when doing them that can go hand in hand with great charisma.
– The belief of being special and unique so that they can only be related to people of high status.
– The narcissistic person has an inability to handle criticism or appears to be completely indifferent to it so as not to see his own ego damaged.
– Permanent feeling of “being in their right” to receive a favorable treatment or that their well-being is the center of everything.
– The frustration that the above does not happen can lead to outbursts of temper , verbal or emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
– Envy towards others or believe that there is others towards them.
– Their intimate social relationships are scarce but superficial ones are abundant since they look for many people from whom they can take advantage .
– Despite the fact that we perceive a great ego from the outside, they tend to have a fragile self-esteem and are predisposed to depression (the most common reason why they go to therapy).
– They bear poor age or ups and downs in their career.
– They are usually surrounded by interpersonal conflicts , rejection, personal or work losses that they do not know how to handle.
There are two subgroups within the disorder:
– The ideal entitlement / fantasy group : whose characteristics would be most envy, feeling special, and experiences of uniqueness.
– The exploiting / non-empathic group : characterized by the exploitation of others, the lack of empathy, the need to be the center of attention and difficulty tolerating criticism.
After this brief explanation, it is up to you to determine if all those friends and acquaintances from social networks belong to one category or another. Do not be alarmed if you discover that this or that is egocentric or narcissistic. It should not escape us that currently our society rewards the display of a great ego even though it hides a bad self-esteem.