According to American psychologist Theodore Millon who researched personality disorders, there are five variations of narcissism and these are described below.
- The unprincipled narcissist who tends to be fraudulent, deceptive and exploitative.
- The compensatory narcissist who exhibits avoidant behaviors and passive aggressive features.
- The amorous narcissist who is exhibitionist and erotic.
- The fanatic narcissist who suffers from paranoia and low self esteem which they try to relieve through gaining recognition and admiration form others.
- The elitist narcissist, who has an over-inflated sense of self image and believes they are unique and talented.
Another psychologist called Alan Downs studied corporate narcissism and described high flying corporate leaders who he believed were obsessed with nothing but profit. Downs suggested that although this narrow focus may give rise to short-term benefits, it does little for company morale and overall success.
Cross-cultural narcissism was first described by Joan Lachkar who refers to the sense of nationalistic pride that a person holds onto as their sense of identity when moving to a new country. Male cross-cultural narcissists tend to choose female partners who are impressed or mesmerized by men from another culture.
American historian and social critic Christopher Lasch describes a narcissistic culture as one defined by the need to obtain signs of wealth to gain status in the social hierarchy. In the pursuit of such wealth, defensiveness and competition become key features of life, with any real sense of community eventually being destroyed.
Another form of narcissism that was first described by Gerald Schoenwolf is gender narcissism. Schoenwolf suggested that men and women both compensate for feelings of being sexually inadequate by becoming obsessed and preoccupied with their masculinity or femininity.
The concept of malignant narcissism was first described by Erich Fromm in 1964 and refers to a syndrome that features a combination of antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and paranoia. The malignant narcissist requires increasing gratification from their achievements as time goes on, meaning the condition therefore worsens.
Medical narcissism was first described by John Banja who defines it as the need to preserve self-esteem, even at the cost of making medical errors. According to Banja, as health professionals, these individuals dread the thought of appearing stupid or lacking in competence and are preoccupied with cultivating a personality that exudes knowledge, control and authority.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc