Emotional Health

Narcissistic Traits With Reference To Emotional Intelligence

10 Mins read
Narcissistic Traits With Reference To Emotional Intelligence
Narcissistic Traits With Reference To Emotional Intelligence

Every person has some narcissistic traits in them, and our level of emotional intelligence can in fact determine our likelihood of possessing those narcissistic traits.

Many people believe that narcissistic people have low emotional intelligence, that their lack of empathy automatically makes them emotionally immature to be in a relationship with, however, the truth is that narcissistic individuals do possess a relatively high emotional intelligence than expected.

A study in 2014, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences aimed at exploring the connections between emotional intelligence, emotional manipulation, and “the dark personalities” such as narcissism.

The study involved 594 participants total, and all participants completed measures relating to emotional intelligence (emotional sensitivity, emotional expression, etc.), narcissism symptoms, Machiavellian-ism symptoms, psychopathy symptoms, and emotional manipulation.

The results showed that individuals with narcissistic traits experienced high scores of emotional intelligence than other individuals. Emotional manipulation was linked to all three personalities, and it was concluded that people with narcissistic traits likely were higher on emotional expression and management because that is what drives their disorder need for grandiosity.

Narcissistic individuals do in fact have high emotional intelligence because their entire personality disorder is predicated on how well they can perceive, analyze and use emotions against the people they may want to manipulate, however, this showcase of their high emotional intelligence is only used when it serves their dark purposes, otherwise, people with narcissistic traits completely ignore their emotional intelligence skills.

Many people with narcissistic traits, seem to lack empathy for other humans in their lives but can in fact express tremendous compassion for their pets, and they may express empathy to a sad child or to an injured animal. Therefore, the possibility that narcissists are consciously and unconsciously unwilling to empathize rather than lacking the capacity to do so is largely plausible.

Like I said before, every human has some level of narcissism in them, this ranges from overconfidence in your skills, overestimating your importance and need in the society, some traits of grandiosity, and a small lack of empathy.

When someone posts one too many selfies or flex pics on their dating profile or talks about themselves constantly during a first date, we might call them a narcissist. But a true narcissist is defined as a person suffering from the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

What is NPD – Narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder is basically a personality disorder that is characterized by an individual’s inflated sense of self importance, grandiosity, a show of lack of empathy, a great need for excessive attention and admiration. On top of which people with narcissistic traits are prone to having troubled relationships

This term gets tossed around a lot mostly referring to our self-obsessed, celebrity-driven culture, often to describe someone who seems excessively full of themselves. That is why I said every human possesses some level of narcissism in them. However, it is prudent to note that in psychological terms narcissism is far more in depth than that.

It’s more accurate to describe people with narcissistic traits as people who are in love with an idealized, grandiose image of themselves. And they’re in love with this inflated self-image precisely because it allows them to avoid deep feelings of insecurity. But propping up their delusions of grandeur takes a lot of work—and that’s where the dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors come in.

W. Keith Campbell, an American social psychologist known for his research on narcissism, dives deeper into the psychology of narcissism in the animated video below:

Fun fact: When I was researching for this article I found out that “what is Narcissism in Swahili?” was one of the most searched phrases on the internet concerning narcissistic traits. And since I’m a native Swahili speaker I thought I can just jump in to answer the question – narcissism in Swahili doesn’t actually have a direct term for it but the closest words used to describe the narcissistic traits are – kujiona (its a verb which directly translates to ‘Conceit’), kujipenda (a verb which directly translates to ‘too much self love and self obsession’). However, in Sheng (Kenyan slang), we call it ‘kujifeel’.

Origin of the concept of narcissism

You might have probably guessed that the name came from Greek mythology just based from how you pronounce it. The story is about a  young man, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

It is said that he rejected the desperate advances of a nymph called Echo. As you might suspect this had some consequences, Narcissus ended up falling in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour, and finally turned into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus.

In his book, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho goes ahead to use this story to show us how everyone always thinks about themselves and rarely about others, that our lack of empathy is sometimes drawn from our own sense of self importance, that we always look out for number one.

narcissistic traits

In his book he talks about the alchemist who knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

Paulo goes ahead to add onto this story by adding the goddesses of the forest, who later came to ask the lake how beautiful Narcissus was because even though they pursued Narcissus in the forest, only the lake alone ever contemplated his beauty close at hand.

The lake went ahead to say, “I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

The element and effects of excessive selfishness and self centered tendencies has been recognized throughout history. It is only since the late 1800s that narcissism has been defined in psychological terms with the attempt of using science and validated means to describe and treat a concept that has for so long been seen as a hindrance.

Signs of narcissistic traits

The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists nine criteria for NPD.

It clearly goes ahead to specify that someone only needs to meet five of them to clinically qualify as a narcissist.

The 9 official criteria for identifying narcissistic traits:

Lack of empathy

As earlier described, I said that narcissists do in fact have high emotional intelligence, this includes all the 4 components involved in emotional intelligence – self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management which entails empathy too.

However they shy away from being comfortable with their emotions unless it serves their purpose or are in a position where their expressions won’t be viewed as a weakness.

They basically don’t do emotions that belong to others.

What I mean by this is, they value their emotions above those of others, regardless of whether they see your struggles or not. They choose not to be empathetic.

If your partner doesn’t really pay that much attention to your struggles, emotions and feelings but prioritizes his, then he may possess some narcissistic traits.

Grandiose sense of self-importance

The term grandiosity, in the field of psychology, refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority, marked by a view of oneself as better than other people, which is expressed by viewing others as inferior and also refers to a sense of personal uniqueness, the belief that few other people have what you have.

People experiencing grandiose delusions often describe larger-than-life feelings of superiority and invulnerability. In short, it is an exaggerated sense of one’s importance, power, knowledge, or identity, even though there may be little evidence to support the beliefs.

Need for excessive admiration

Everyone wants to feel special, that they are unique loved and appreciated for who they are and what they do. However, this turns into a narcissistic trait when you end up overly wanting the admiration of others in such an extent of overvaluing your contributions and efforts.

Most narcissists have low self-esteem, therefore, they love fishing for compliments so as to assure themselves they are respected and admired by others.The main difference between folks who are confident and those with NPD is that narcissists need others to lift them up, and lift themselves up only by putting others down. Two things people with high self-confidence do not do.

Demonstration of arrogance and attitude

Narcissists think they are right about everything and rarely own up to their mistakes and apologize. They hate being told they are wrong and when they are confronted they respond with a lot of hostility, arrogance and condescending attitude.

The basic way of seeing this narcissistic trait in any relationship is to pay attention and see if your partner; doesn’t hear you, doesn’t understand you, doesn’t take responsibility/doesn’t apologize for their action or the least doesn’t try and compromise where necessary.

Good relationships have partners who are able to hear each other out, understand each other’s perspective, be accountable to their actions and try as mush as possible to compromise on issues that affect them.

narcissistic traits

Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them

This brings me back to the point of overly valuing their importance and contributions. Narcissists do this to assure themselves of their value and role in a given situation. They brag about their accomplishments and make it seem like they are the center of the universe because that is how they want to feel and want other people to see them like such.

This inevitably brings about conflicts when they see someone who is better than them at something, they become envious and overly try and reassure themselves that they are still better by overly stating their fortes.

They do this because they feel better and smarter than everyone else, and also because it helps them create an appearance of being self-assured.

Belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions

I believe that is self explanatory, lol.

Interpersonal exploitative behavior

Narcissistic people always want to get their way. They would rarely agree with you not unless both of your intentions are aligned. They believe that their way is right and if you say otherwise, they will use manipulative strategies to ensure they have their way.

They are the kind of people who will try to sway you from hanging out with your friends by pointing out ridiculous yet believable reasons as to why you shouldn’t hang out with them. They go so far as to make you dependent on them so that you feed of their energy and presence above anyone else’s, they crave your admiration and will do anything to maintain it as such.

An emotionally intelligent tip: People with narcissistic traits will try to manufacture superficial connections very early on in a relationship. If you think it’s too early for them to really love you, it probably is. Or if you feel like they don’t know enough about you to actually love you, they probably don’t – this is a big part of understanding people and being socially aware.

They also have a problem of committing when it comes to relationships whether friends or lovers. There are many reasons for commitment issues but if your partner exhibits a few of these traits then he or she may be narcissistic.

It is logical to understand that sometimes they don’t know what they are actually doing, that is why it is called a disorder and not a crime. It is mental flaw in them that has been instilled through experiences, environment and a little bit of genetics.

Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

Narcissists are grandiose and the possibilities of a future where they have all they need and have things exactly as they want is obviously an obsessive fantasy of theirs, these fantasies are eluded by the reality of the real life events but narcissists will still be consumed by them.

Sense of entitlement

Having a sense of entitlement is basically being delusional that you deserve things that you haven’t even earned yet, you have a sense of entitlement when you expect to get what you want when you want it and exactly how you want it regardless of the reality of things.

This is a hallmark of narcissism, a sense of entitlement is highly predicated on delusions of high importance and value in the society.

Your partner may possess more narcissistic traits if he or she always feels like she deserves the best even when he or she is doing the least, a narcissistic person will expect you to do the most for them whilst themselves are doing the least for you.

Narcissistic tests

It should be noted that as much as it is easy to see the above signs of narcissistic in yourself or others, taking a test that is given by a licensed professional is more preferable for accurate answrs and help.

However, there are many tests online that claim to measure your level of narcissism, they are all brief and not truly in depth so I wouldn’t rely on them for a perfect answer but they do come close.

Personally I did take one from Psycom.net, it is a short 3 minutes test that asks basic questions that are based ob the 9 official criteria for NPD. My results were a bit shocking to me:

my NPD test results
My NPD test results

This is the part where you start questioning my personality, that whether I’m a blogger, writing these awesome bite sized articles on emotional intelligence to just overly overestimate my grasp of knowledge and wisdom or to just click bait you into reading whatever so that I can make a profit or something like that, lol, just kidding.

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

George Bernard Shaw

How to handle a narcissist

In my previous articles, I have shown countless times how hard it is to try and change someone, many times it doesn’t work, only a person can help themselves.

Heavens help those who help themselves.

If you are dating a narcissist the immediate solution would be to break up with them, shake hands and head on your merry way. However, you don’t usually get to choose who you love, you sometimes just do, and if you love a narcissist the best course of action is to avoid getting into arguments with them as much as possible.

Arguments and petty conflicts give a narcissist a chance to exert his/her dominance and perceived importance on you. It fuels them and makes them more self assured of their superiority over you, by taking away the match, you will get to prevent the fire which might burn you both.

I’d love to hear from you. Would you say you are a narcissistic person? Are you dating one? How do you see the effects of narcissistic traits in your professional and personal life?

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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