My post about narcissism the other day was meant to be lighthearted, poking fun at myself and others who tend to have big egos. But some readers took it very seriously. I’m glad they did, because the resulting discussion pointed to another truth:
There’s a big difference between those who enjoy attention and true narcissists.
Fellow writer Laurel Hermanson noted the difference quite clearly:
I think there is an important distinction between occasional or even frequent self-absorption and narcissism. We throw the n-word around too often to describe people who aren’t true narcissists. There are traits other than ego and attention seeking that define narcissism, and they’re much uglier and more firmly entrenched.
Reader C.Z. gave more details:
I think the big difference between you, your friends, hopefully myself (cough!) on the one hand — and then the CLINICAL Narcissist on the other — is that of empathy. The real way to know this sort of thing is “bad news” is not so much the degree to which someone seems self-involved (and we shouldn’t be this way, of course — though, in another sense, life does happen “in the first-person singular,” and we all have our faults too ); rather, I’d say the serious warning-signs start when someone *fails* to care for other people.
As I said the other day, the best thing we can do is work every day to be better people. Just about everyone I know already does that.
You know my story, because I write about myself a lot. Now, feel free to talk among — and about — yourselves.