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:
- Healthy means they have self-confidence that fits with reality. Destructive means they’re grandiose and slightly delusional on their own abilities.
- Healthy narcissists enjoy power without hunting for it. Destructive will stop at nothing to gather power and have no inhibitions in this area.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.