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The Complex Dynamics of Defensive Self-Enhancement and Avoidant Attachment

  • 05 Pages
  • Published On: 05-12-2023
Chapter 1: Introduction

Narcissism refers to a complex phenomenon that consists of a defensive self-enhancement level. Narcissists pose avoidant attachment and often maintain distance in a social context. Often they claim that they do not need the help of other people. However, studies reveal that they are sensitive to other individual and usually requires positively reflected appraisals to maintain their inflated self-image (Hutcheon, 2014). The narcissistic traits include a strong sense of self-importance, fantasies of fame or glory, craving admiration, exaggerating self-abilities, and lacking empathy. In most cases, these people are preoccupied with their own success, thus influencing their interaction and decision-making. Hutcheon (2014) states that Narcissists have challenges in creating and maintaining connections with other individuals due to their lack of empathy and manipulative tendencies. However, they crave attention and admiration. Other traits which differentiate narcissists include experiencing fantasies about being famous and influential, exaggerating their abilities, and being preoccupied with beauty, love, and power. Therefore, this study will explore narcissism, an individual who has exaggerated self-importance, admiration, and lack of understating of other people's feelings.

Narcissism dates back to ancient Greece, where some behavior was termed hubris. The ancient Greeks also have various narratives concerning individuals being hubris and later creating society destruction. This challenge is depicted in Ovid's myth of Narcissus, a young Greek person who turned down nymph Echo's substantial advances (George & Short, 2018). With the inability to consummate his self-love, Narcissus withered and turned into a flower with his name, the narcissus. Similarly, by 1898, an English sexologist, Havelock Ellis, utilized the term "narcissus-like," which refers to extreme masturbation and autoerotism, where an individual becomes their own sex object. By 1899, Paul Näche used the word "narcissism" in his sexual perversions research. Similarly, by 1911, a psychoanalytical paper was published by Otto Rank concerning narcissism. The study linked vanity to self-admiration (George & Short, 2018). Shortly, in 1914, Sigmund Freud also published a study on narcissism. He revealed that narcissist is a usual part of an individual psyche. He also demonstrated that narcissism is the energy and desire that motivate an individual to survive - primary narcissism.

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Furthermore, Freud came up with a secondary narcissism which he termed as a pathological disorder which is evident when libido withdraws from other objects. Therefore, Freud described narcissism as a self-centered and immature character that occurs at the expense of object love. By the 1960s and 1970s, psychoanalysts Heinz Kohut and Otto Kornberg created interest in narcissism (George & Short, 2018). They introduced the narcissism personality that they described as a relationship of the narcissist – which is parasitic and exploitative. This personality makes individuals feel that they have the right control to exploit others. Recently, narcissists have been classified as sadism and a malignant narcissist. Recent research also has indicated that narcissist deliberately damages others in pursuit of their own desires. On the other hand, malignant narcissists harm others and do not regret the damage cause (George & Short, 2018).

Narcissistic relationships are developed when one individual or partner struggles with a narcissistic personality. According to Kohut (2013), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a condition that develops I individuals with narcissism. It is defined as a condition in which individuals have an inflated sense of their own importance and a strong need for admiration. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder think that they are superior to others regardless of others' little regard. A study by Masterson (2013) states that we live in an increasingly narcissistic world. The study also reveals that most social media promotes a self-image mentality. Unfortunately, Narcissists are very bad relationship partners. An individual in a narcissistic relationship is more likely to engage in manipulative or playing behaviors and less likely to have a long-term commitment to the relationship (Masterson, 2013). This indicates that a relationship with a narcissist is hard and challenging to cope with. They lack emotional connection to other individuals, thus having no connection with people. Therefore, due to a lack of connection, they view other people as objects to get what they need. Similarly, narcissists are unable to understand that other individual have feelings, and when they do, they consider the feelings as unimportant compared to their feelings. According to Pincus and Lukowitsky (2010), narcissists lack emotion towards other individuals since part of the brain that enables them to have emotion, care and empathy are missing or dysfunctional and immature. However, regardless of their lack of emotion toward other individuals, they enjoy tricking, fooling, and manipulating other people. This trait makes them feel superior and smart.

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Moreover, due to their nature, narcissist never develops a relationship that promotes equality. In most cases, narcissists do not need equal connection since they need to be first, and their matter is handled firsts. Therefore, maintaining a relationship becomes very hard. Similarly, they do anything to ensure that they are always noticed. They view any attempt by other individuals to outshine them as a threat, thus making them react. Therefore, individuals with narcissistic personality disorders can only be happy when other individuals are beneath them. When they cannot dominate or control other individuals, they will keep on trying, and the result is an endless power struggle. However, in such a struggle, the narcissist tries to manipulate others, control them, and oppress them. Therefore, this struggle and accusation reveal that any relationship with a narcissist will never be equal since ruling and controlling others is the only thing that matters to them and does not care about other people's feelings. Therefore, in a relationship with a narcissist, it is essential to understand that they must be controlling others, thus making the relationship very challenging. Durvasula (2015) states that narcissists have a brutal superego that assaults them with horrible things. Therefore, they lash at others as the only way to try to find peace. Therefore, narcissist people are not loved by anyone, and the community perceives individuals who love them as insane and deserving of narcissistic abuse. Similarly, narcissist never loves anyone thus making their relationship to be characterized by abuse. Similarly, since they cannot be happy, they do not let anyone be happy, which makes the creation and maintaining of relationships very challenging.

In conclusion, narcissism is a trait that promotes self-importance, exaggerated feelings, the extreme need for admiration, and lack of understating of other people's feelings.

References

Durvasula, R., 2015. Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving A Relationship with a Narcissist. Simon and Schuster.

George, F.R. and Short, D., 2018. The cognitive neuroscience of narcissism. Journal of Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Sciences, 1(6), pp.1-9.

Hutcheon, L. 2014. Narcissistic narrative: the metafictional paradox. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press.

Kohut, H., 2013. The analysis of the self: A systematic approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. University of Chicago Press.

Masterson, J.F., 2013. The narcissistic and borderline disorders: An integrated developmental approach. Routledge.

Pincus, A.L. and Lukowitsky, M.R., 2010. Pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. Annual review of clinical psychology, 6, pp.421-446.


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