The formation of a person’s identity begins in childhood. Child psychologists claim that the first three years of life are crucial in development. During these years, the basic patterns of personality are formed. The foundations of the future personality are laid during these years, and they remain in place throughout the child’s life. Of course, this does not mean that the experience of later life is irrelevant. It does not, however, have the same influence as earlier events. The early years of life are malleable, allowing the child’s worldview to be shaped by what he or she sees, does, and feels. The clinical term for the changes that occur during this period is “narcissistic development.” Although the concept is often attributed exclusively to the Millennial generation, all people are affected by narcissism to some extent
Definition of Narcissism
Narcissism is defined as a feature of the psyche in which people perceive themselves as a unique individual, consider themselves better than others, which is not always true. Such traits are present in the character of many people. In a healthy person, they are expressed in ambition and a desire to be liked. However, with a particular scenario laid down in childhood, such behavior can turn into pathology. It is often accompanied by other diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and depression (Arundale, 2017). Contrary to conventional wisdom, people with narcissistic personality disorder do not like themselves. Instead, they admire their grandiose projection, which allows them to close gaps in their self-esteem. This defense allows narcissists to avoid deep feelings and insecurities about themselves. People with such a disorder cannot tolerate minimal criticism, take comments as a personal insult and are capable of throwing a tantrum if someone refuses to admire them.
Types of Narcissism
Narcissism in the ordinary sense is associated only with a negative meaning. The mythological man Narcissus, who looked at his reflection in a pond, fell in love with it, and drowned, is used as a reminder of what happens to people who are too gentle with themselves. Nevertheless, narcissism, in specific amounts, is necessary for self-esteem and self-determination. In moderate doses, it is also necessary for executives because influence, self-confidence, and creativity cannot exist without it (Fierens, 2019). Thus, an excess or lack of narcissism throws a person out of balance. In determining what makes narcissism dysfunctional, we can use the distinction between creative and passive narcissism. Creative narcissism arises as a result of parental due diligence throughout the early years of parenting and later years. Parents who give their children supportive care know their level of tolerance. They also provide the right supportive environment for their children’s various emotional reactions, balanced and with solid self-esteem.
In contrast, passive narcissism develops in people who are somehow deprived of support and care. Due to a lack or excess of encouragement from parents – children do not receive the attention needed for smooth development (Hill, 2016). As adults, passive narcissists behave like the hungry whimpering children they were – children who were not heard and craved attention. One can conclude from executive research that most of them are driven by narcissism (Shaw, 2021). In other words, they became who they are out of a harmful premise.
Studies on Narcissism
When it comes to research on narcissism in Millennials, most researchers agree that they are a more narcissistic generation than everyone else. This conclusion is based on the fact that they grew up when the government provided various welfare benefits. Researchers analyzed the behavior of more than 750 people between the ages of 13 and 77 to see how narcissistic behavior changes across generations (Lachkar, 2019). According to the research, the presence of five of the following nine symptoms can confirm manifestations of narcissism (Mathieu, 2013). These include an overinflated feeling of personal importance, imaginations of unbounded success, authority, beauty, and perfection, as well as a belief in one’s individuality and specificity. This also involves the urge for over-narcissistic infatuation, an overblown sense of self-worth, exploitative behavior, and an absence of compassion and empathy. Envy of others and showing a dismissive attitude are also essential symptoms of narcissism.
Researchers have identified several factors that have influenced the development of narcissism in the Millennial generation. The first is food habits. People born at the beginning of the 21st century prioritize restaurants and prepared foods. According to research, millennials eat out at restaurants far more than any other generation (Brailovskaia & Bierhoff, 2020). The second factor is that for millennials, television has taken a back seat. Compared to other generations, they watch far less television. They have shifted the media world’s attention to social media. Facebook and Instagram, for example, are the most prevalent (Symington & Grotstein, 2019). Given that social media is a stronghold of objectification and narcissism, this factor is also seen in the development of narcissism.
The main factor causing the development of narcissistic personality traits
Researchers agree that one of the main factors prolonging teenage narcissism among older users is social media. Young people have a tendency to overemphasize the significance of their own opinions. It is a perfectly normal part of growing up to be categorical in judgment. However, people out of adolescence continue to show narcissistic behavior on social media. For example, they are opinionated and categorical about things they do not understand, or express harsh and judgmental views about others. In psychology, such behavior is connected with the stage of maturation. Nevertheless, social networks are increasingly making this format of self-expression widespread (Gentile et al., 2012). Furthermore, it is feared that the teenagers who grew up on the Internet are bringing such models of communication into adulthood, considering it normal.
A further factor why Internet communication promotes adult narcissistic behavior is that the entire framework of the majority of social networks runs on the “fuel” of likes. A Facebook or Instagram page becomes a prototype of the life one would like to have. There have already been several claims of people getting hooked on likes and reposts and catching themselves looking at the world through their online identities. On social media, it is elementary to paint a perfect picture of one’s life. Combed, obedient children, fragments of the cleanest house, endless love without misunderstandings, flowers, hearts, a cup of cocoa on the window. This conduct spreads virally, making millions of people around the world feel inferior. Because of this feeling, people try to artificially inflate their self-esteem by resorting specifically to the narcissistic type of behavior.
The impact of narcissism on society
Narcissism affects society as much as society affects narcissism. The modern world actively encourages performance, selfishness, and financial solvency. By these components, a person is judged by many of those around him (Giambatista et al., 2017). It is essential to be more successful, to earn more, and to get married earlier. The main thing is to have something to boast about in front of the rest of society. Because society demands result from a person and often does not pay attention to the methods of achieving them, narcissistic behavior becomes the norm. After all, it is what allows a person to use unprincipled ways to achieve his goal.
The most decisive wins in the race for primacy on the social pedestal, and narcissists understand this better than anyone else. They constantly have to maintain their exclusivity in the eyes of others and, first and foremost, themselves. Society and its demands to be nothing less than ideal in everything disposes to this type of behavior (Grubbs & Riley, 2018). Consequently, in recent decades there have been more and more such rigid, selfish and unprincipled loners.
The Millennial generation, like all other generations, has narcissistic tendencies. This is provoked by the dramatic development of new technology, which occurred precisely during their childhood. Narcissism is also caused by the excessive demands of society and the environment in which each individual was raised. Narcissism is not always a bad thing; healthy narcissism can help in life, such as promoting at work. However, there are also destructive manifestations, such as having too high self-esteem and dismissing others. In order to avoid adding to the population of narcissists, society needs to reconsider its standards and requirements. Excessive expectations of a person provoke him or her to achieve the goal by any means, even the most unprincipled. It is at this point that narcissistic behavior seems to be the only right choice. In order to avoid these manifestations, the individual’s personality must be encouraged without forcing him to be better than others.
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Brailovskaia, J., & Bierhoff, H. W. (2020). The narcissistic millennial generation: A study of personality traits and online behavior on Facebook. Journal of Adult Development, 27(1), 23–35.
Fierens, C. (2019). The soul of narcissism. Routledge.
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Mathieu, C. (2013). Personality and job satisfaction: The role of narcissism. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(6), 650.
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