Social media fuels Narcissus myth

By Lisa Silva
Pulse Staff Reporter

The term ‘narcissist’ comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus. According to this ancient story, Narcissus was a hunter who fell in love with his own reflection. He ended up dying from thirst and starvation because he was unable to pull himself away from staring at himself.

Generation Z and Millennials may be the generations that are a little bit too obsessed with themselves. A study from Swansea University has established that excessive use of social media, particularly the posting of selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism by an average of 25 percent. 

The study also showed that those who post on social media excessively displayed a 25 percent increase in narcissistic traits. 

In the book ‘The Narcissistic Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement,’ professor Jean M. Twenge compares the rise of narcissistic personality traits to the rise of obesity from the 1980s to the present, stating it must be an epidemic. Other studies show that millennials value money, image and fame over community, affiliation and self-acceptance.

“I think narcissism is someone who only cares about themselves,” said Elizabeth Gutierrez, Liberal Arts major at PAC.

According to the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (2009), narcissism stands for exaggerated self-love. 

But narcissism is not easily diagnosed as a medical condition. It is more of a trait, so no tests or screening processes are available for it. It’s hard to pinpoint whether someone has it or not. 

According to Psychology Today, some signs of a narcissistic personality disorder, which is a bit more extreme, can include:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)
  • Exploitation of others
  • Lack of empathy
  • Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy
  • Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes

“So for my understanding, narcissism is self-love, selfishness, a person who needs a lot of attention and sympathy,” said Sanaria Dawood, Esthetics major at PAC.

It’s important to have a good, healthy self-esteem, but it’s also important to not confuse self-esteem with self-love. Exaggerated self-love means we only care about ourselves, just like Narcissus did in the Greek myth.

“I believe in the value of self-esteem…you have to believe in yourself to help others,” said Ismael Dovalina, associate professor of Psychology at PAC. “Having a few narcissistic traits is okay. We are human, after all, so it’s perfectly normal for us to think about ourselves.”

If you notice yourself having quite a few of the personality traits of the disorder, then it is recommended that you seek help. Professional help is available through talk therapy with a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

Other treatments besides individual psychotherapy include group, family and couples therapy.

Counseling services with trained professional counselors and supervised counseling interns are available at PAC in the S.H.A.R.E Center. Students can schedule an appointment by calling 210-486-3750 or by coming in anytime during the S.H.A.R.E Center business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. These services are free for all students enrolled at PAC.