What Is the Meaning of Narcissistic?


Narcissism is a term used to describe individuals with an unhealthy preoccupation with themselves, a sense of grandiosity and need for admiration from others. Many narcissists lack empathy as well. Narcissistic personality disorder is a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in which individuals experience a pervasive pattern of narcissistic traits across all areas of their lives.

Cluster B

The DSM classifies narcissistic personality disorder in the second cluster of personality disorders, Cluster B. The other personality disorders in this cluster are antisocial, borderline and histrionic personality disorders. All Cluster B disorders are similar; they are emotionally unstable and dramatic.

Common Use

Many people use the word narcissistic in a non-clinical sense referring to individuals who are self-focused to the detriment of caring for others.


Many people with NPD have a history of unstable relationships, they are attracted to high-profile positions of authority and are hypersensitive to criticism.

Family of Origin

Freud and other psychologists believe that narcissism begins due to problems between children and their parents that occur before the child turns three.

Greek Myth

The psychological term narcissism comes from Greek mythology, in which the nymph Echo fell in love with a vain man named Narcissus who treated her poorly. This angered the god Apollo who decided that Narcissus should die without ever knowing true love. One day when Narcissus was thirsty, he stopped by a body of clear water to take a drink. He saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it however was unable to receive a response. Finally, he died by the water.

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