By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
The seven deadly sins of narcissism were first described by psychotherapist Sandy Hotchkiss and they include the following:
- Shamelessness – Shame is the underlying factor in all cases of unhealthy narcissism. In a healthy person, shame is processed in a normal manner, whereas narcissists have difficulty processing this feeling in a healthy way. Narcissists also tend to inflict shame on other people, a concept referred to as projection.
- Magical thinking – Narcissists tend to perceive themselves as perfect and flawless. The distorted thinking and illusion that causes narcissists to feel this way is referred to as magical thinking.
- Arrogance – Arrogance and a disregard for other people’s feelings are typical characteristics of narcissism. Narcissists often have a low self esteem which they try to relieve by insulting or degrading others. This helps to re-inflate their ego when they are feeling deflated or lacking in worth.
- Envy – Due to their sense of being superior to others, narcissists may feel insecure when faced with another person’s ability, which they may try to belittle by demonstrating contempt or dismissal of it.
- Sense of entitlement – A sense of being perfect and superior means narcissists often expect to receive favorable treatment and for people to admire and agree with their opinions or actions. Failure to comply may be perceived as an attack on their authority and superiority. A person who flouts their authority is often considered to be a difficult or awkward person by the narcissist, who will proceed to demean them or their opinion, especially in front of others. Defiance can also trigger anger in the narcissist which is referred to as “narcissistic rage.”
- Exploitation – This refers to the narcissist’s tendency to exploit others and show no regard or empathy for their emotions or interests. This often occurs when the other person is in a subservient position, where it is awkward or impossible to resist the narcissist. On some occasions, this subservience is only assumed rather than real.
- Lack of boundaries – Most narcissists fail to understand their boundaries and recognise that other people are individuals rather than extensions of themselves. Those who support the self-esteem of the narcissist are expected to always do so, with the narcissist failing to recognize the independence of the other person.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Jan 11, 2015