Natural narcissism

To a greater or lesser degree, human beings are driven by ego (by which I mean that part of ourselves that wants to be, or thinks we already are, the best and greatest). Everyone is more interested in themselves than in anyone else. Everyone wants to feel special, to be loved, desired and admired. We all want to feel important, powerful, and in control. We crave approval and find criticism humiliating.

Alfred Adler, an associate of Freud, believed that striving for a feeling of superiority is the motivating force behind all human action. He believed that our long childhood dependency on more powerful and skillful adults means we cannot help but feel insignificant and inferior in comparison and that such feelings are the basis for the universal human drive for a sense of superiority.

Many psychological studies confirm that self-importance is almost universal and that we employ a host of unconscious strategies to increase and protect our favourable opinions of ourselves.

Virtually everyone (those suffering from depression are a notable exception) is egocentric and has self-enhancing illusion about themselves. Most of us think we are better than any evidence indicates or than other people judge us to be.

In general we overestimate our influence, abilities, talents, appearance, and importance. We downplay our faults and weaknesses and exaggerate our achievements, take credit for our successes and deny responsibility for our failures and mistakes. Almost everyone for example, thinks they are a better than average driver, no matter what their driving record indicates or what other people think.

Most of us see other people’s faults with crystal clarity but are blind to our own. And we all tend to think that accidents, illness, and misfortune are more likely to happen to other people than to ourselves - the universal ‘it won’t happen to me‘ illusion.

Such narcissism is a normal defense against the battering life can give and is essential for psychological health because it helps protect against depression, disappointment, failure, and a sense of helplessness. This natural narcissism boosts our morale and motivation. It makes us resilient by giving us the optimism and confidence to meet challenges and overcome setbacks and rejection. It is essential for self-preservation and self-advancement. A healthy dose of narcissism is necessary for leadership, to help us stand up for our rights, fight for causes and ideals, and face opposition. Thinking well of ourselves feels good and most of the time is good for us.

Like most things though, it’s a matter of balance. If we don’t have enough narcissism we are prey to depression, <a href="/inferiority_complexes/index.html" title