Can Narcissism be a Positive?

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That’s a really rough list and I agree with it.  Let’s keep in mind that for personal reasons, I’m rather biased here.  I see narcissism as a negative and I’ve found that most people would agree.  Even narcissists who don’t realize they are narcissists.  So, this is going to be a tough one.  Is there such a thing as Healthy Narcissism?

According to some psychologists, there is.  Has it’s own Wikipedia page too.

From reading up on it, Healthy Narcissism stems from being confident and knowing your self-worth without taking it to the extreme.  Honestly, it seems to be describing the levels of confidence before one reaches arrogance.  I saw mention of narcissism being a spectrum, so not everyone is the same.  Other people used explanations such as emotional defense mechanisms, stage of emotional maturity, and other things that boiled down to it being a part of everyone.

This isn’t going well because I’m not sure I can get behind it.  I’m going to use the chart on the Wikipedia page to compare Healthy Narcissism and Destructive Narcissism.  This is specific for managers, but it gives a decent overview:

  1. Healthy means they have self-confidence that fits with reality.  Destructive means they’re grandiose and slightly delusional on their own abilities.
  2. Healthy narcissists enjoy power without hunting for it.  Destructive will stop at nothing to gather power and have no inhibitions in this area.
  3. Healthy show empathy for others and do not exploit those around them.  Destructive looks at others as tools to exploit and focuses on socially acceptable responses with no emotion behind them.  I want to add here that this is a hallmark of narcissists.  They’re know to have no empathy for others, which is why this part makes me doubt the legitimacy of Healthy Narcissists.  Once they show empathy and concern for others then they’re not really a narcissist, are they?
  4. Healthy have consistent values that they don’t stray from.  Destructive get bored easily and will repeatedly change their values and path to gain attention.  Here we have another hallmark, I believe.
  5. Healthy narcissists have a positive childhood that supports their self-esteem and gives them limits.  Destructive have had a traumatic childhood that either disables their sense of self-worth or eliminates their sense of limits/consequences.

I was really hoping I could research and write this in a way that would show you can have narcissism as a positive trait.  Yet, I didn’t convince myself.  You can have a healthy dose of egotism and confidence.  Maybe even an abundance of arrogance, but narcissism requires a lack of empathy in my mind.  So, I guess I don’t think it’s possible.

If anyone can give a counterpoint then feel free.  I’m curious to see what other people have to say about this.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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19 Responses to Can Narcissism be a Positive?

  1. Self-esteem is a positive trait; narcissism is not. To me, calling self-esteem “healthy narcissism” sounds like an attempt either to justify narcissists’ bad behavior or to make people with healthy self-esteem feel guilty by claiming ‘It’s all the same thing.’

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can’t argue with your points. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a positive narcissist. If there is, I haven’t met one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. noelleg44 says:

    I have a friend whom I might consider a narcissist, but going over your list, he’s probably not!


  4. I have to agree with you, and also with John Howell. If they have empathy for others and/or are governed by a moral code, they might not be a perfectly balanced personality, but they’ve perhaps grown out of some narcissism.

    The difference between healthy confidence and narcissism is pretty obvious in that the former may occasionally irk others, but the latter pretty much constantly causes distress for people around them. Particularly for targets of abuse who are gas-lighted when they talk about their experiences.

    To think of this in terms of character creation, an arrogant/confident person can still be a hero with flaws, but the narcissist would pretty much have to be a villain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think narcissism is easier to hide too. People assume it’s healthy confidence and arrogance at first. Most times, it takes a while to realize it’s narcissism. This is because many narcissists develop an instinct for how to hide their habits. They also ditch those who get too close to the truth. Sometimes that happens by them exiling the target from the shared social group.

      I still think a narcissist could work as a team member hero. Only because their storyline would be coming to terms with and changing that aspect. From his people have responded to these posts, it does feel like many believe this is an incurable mental illness and worthy of immediate scorn.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Victoria Zigler says:

    Personally, I think it’s more likely that those so-called “Healthy narcissists” are just egotistical people with narcissistic tendancies, rather than actual narcissists. That’s why they can feel empathy and such, while still displaying clear signs of narcissism in many aspects of their behaviour and personality.


  6. ❦Kara❦ says:

    I agree with your position, Charles. Once there is empathy, that seems to take away “narcissism.” It seems like an oxymoron: healthy narcissism. When I see the “healthy” points in the list, I just see confidence, not “healthy narcissism.” It’s such a misnomer.

    Great post!


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